Being a parent is both the single most rewarding experience of a lifetime and the most exhausting. Some mornings you wake you and feel like you could still sleep for years. How do you make it through the day on little to no sleep without caffeine? We’ve got some helpful advice for you.
Your alarm has just gone off, shrieking at you from your nightstand, slowly your eyes open and you greet the day with a grunt. After another sleepless night all you need is a cup of coffee before you feel truly awake.
Coffee has been our go-to drink for decades. It’s kept many an exhausted parent on their feet. But, what if we told you there are alternatives to your caffeine fix? Before you scoff and fight your spouse for the last drop in the percolator, take a moment to listen to what we’ve found.
Even though you’ve barely slept, you can still start off your day properly. Why not change your alarm tone to something that’s less obnoxious than a fog horn. You can also try a ‘wake up light therapy’ alarm. You don’t need to spend a lot of money, there are a multitude of apps you can download onto your phone. The way light therapy works is that it simulates the rising sun and wakes you up slowly. It’s a way of waking you gently, almost like a Disney princess–but not quite.
How to boost your energy naturally
Start your day with exercise and a healthy meal
A simple way to inject a little bit of energy into your day is to exercise. When you get your blood pumping and your lungs working, you’ll be surprised by how invigorated you’ll feel–no matter how little sleep you had the night before.
We know an early morning gym session may be the last thing you feel like after a sleepless night, but you don’t even have to leave your house. You can set yourself up on the living room carpet and deadlift your toddler–turning exercise into a fun family event. Alternatively, you can log onto your Xbox or Wii-Fit and follow along to a fitness routine. It’s worth mentioning that when we say exercise, we don’t necessarily mean a cardio session–you could start your day off with a salutation to the sun (if yoga is more your thing).
If you're absolutely unable to drag yourself out of bed to wake yourself up with exercises then try a hearty breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day–it wasn’t merely a fib your mother told you. By making yourself a nutritious breakfast, you’ll be giving your body exactly what it needs to keep going until bedtime. After all food is energy. We have a selection of energising smoothie recipes to get you on your way with a healthy meal in a hurry. They can even be made the night before–so you simply grab and go!
Put together an inspirational morning playlist
One thing that never fails to put a spring in our step is the right playlist. Put together a selection of songs that puts a smile on your face and gets your toes tapping. Make sure you play it as you get ready for the day. You can even have it on repeat while you weave through traffic on the school run. Think of it as an instant energy boost for your ears. The great thing about a toe-tapping playlist is that it can be used at any time of the day. You can put on your playlist for those early morning jogs or when you hit that mid-day slump when our energy levels take a nosedive.
Beating the mid-day slump
Just because you’re sleep deprived doesn’t mean you have to go from nought to zombie by lunchtime. Before you hide under your desk a la George Castanza and have a (well deserved) desk nap we’ve got you covered.
Image source: Giphy
Here are some of our favourite ways to boost your energy in the afternoon
- Make sure you take a break every 20 to 30 minutes. Get up, go to the kitchen for a glass of water or save up your printing so you can take a walk to the printer. Sitting down for long periods of time will not help your concentration levels, especially when you’re running on four hours of sleep.
- Stretches are our go to move when we want to feel a little more awake. A series of simple stretches will help you get more oxygen into your lungs and circulating through your body.
- Put on your energising playlist. If you’re lucky enough to work in an environment that allows you to plug in your headphones while you work. Put on that playlist and let the music move you. If you don’t have time to create one, platforms like Spotify and Apple music will do that for you.
- Make sure you take a lunch break. Yes, sitting diligently at your desk and getting your work done will lead to peace of mind. But, you will find it harder to concentrate as the afternoon wears on. During lunch take a stroll around your office park or walk to the coffee shop on the corner. You can even make sure you put your gym togs in your bag and go for a quick jog. Take your lunch to the local park and absorb some much needed vitamin D.
- Keep a selection of healthy snacks in your drawer for when you need a boost. Seeds, nuts and fruit will definitely be welcome as we near home time. Apples are full of vitamin’s C, B and potassium and are a great source of slow release energy. The perfect snack to wake you up! Not feeling hungry? Perhaps give an energising cup of herbal tea a try instead.
These tips and tricks don’t have to be kept for the mid-afternoon slump, they can also be used in the morning to help you to wake up after a night of broken sleep.
The late afternoon survival guide
The late afternoon slump is when you’re so close to home time that you’ve reached a mental block. Don’t panic. We know you’ve not felt at your best today because, well, parenting. We salute you mom or dad–it's been a long day! We also have a solution to your afternoon slump.
Before you reach for that energy drink or a cup of coffee try munching on one of those delicious snacks we mentioned above and fill up your water bottle. Often we forget to drink enough water (and no, unfortunately tea and coffee don’t count). If you’re a little dehydrated you will feel slightly sluggish. A glass of water will clear your head in minutes.
Take another walk, even if it’s just to the end of the office block and back. The fresh air and sunlight will help you feel more alert. Another quick fix is to splash your face and wrists with cold water. It's a surefire way of keeping you awake. Although only do this if you’re wearing waterproof mascara–you don't want to return to your desk with panda eyes.
We know that getting the right amount of sleep as a parent is always tricky, whether you’re a first time mom or dad, or parents of three. There are many alternatives to reaching for that first cup of coffee in the morning. We’ve barely scratched the surface. As hard as it is, try to get outside and get moving, we promise you will feel the benefits. If your day just isn’t the same without a cup of coffee, keep the routine alive but make sure you don't over do it. You can read our article, Everything you ever wanted to know about caffeine, to find out how much coffee is considered healthy.
You can also download our Guide to Getting a Good Night's Sleep to help you catch more of those ever important Zs.