A sad looking woman with insomnia sitting and crying on a bus full of people

Getting Through a Day With No Sleep

Another morning comes, and I haven’t slept at all. My muscles, bones, and skin ache. I feel nauseous. But I have to go to work. I can’t use another sick day. Plus, I know that even if I try to go back to sleep, I won’t be able to. I guess I’ll try to get dressed.

During my insomnia, I found myself in this situation many days of the week. It was a deeply unsettling feeling. Some mornings, when I felt especially powerless, I would cry on the bus. And if you need to do that – by all means, please do. But guess what? I’m still here! I got through every single one of those days, and you can too, using some of the strategies I’m going to share below.

1. Caffeinate, or don’t

A lot of articles about insomnia tell you to lay off the caffeine. For me, my morning cup of coffee is deeply sacred and helps me maintain a sense of normalcy. But on my worst days, my nervous system was shot – so I stuck to one small cup, and only before lunch. I recommend you do what helps you feel the most grounded.

2. Drink lots of water

Hydration helps your body function at its best. Try to drink it regularly throughout the day.

3. Eat frequently

On my no-sleep days, eating small meals every couple of hours really helped my energy stabilize. Foods rich in fiber, complex carbs, and protein can help keep your blood sugar stable – think whole-grain toast and peanut butter, scrambled eggs with avocado, a hummus and veggie sandwich. That being said, I was always craving sweets on these days (I think it was my body looking for a quick burst of energy), and I indulged myself. Eating a few pieces of chocolate or having a cookie just made things a little more bearable.

4. Accept that your work won’t be your best

At work, I tried to save any major projects that I had for days where my sleep was a little bit better. I would do high-level things during insomnia days – responding to emails, optimizing my calendar, and any short tasks that I had. Delving into a project is probably going to be hard, and you probably won’t have the focus or detail orientation that you need. It’s ok, a day with better sleep is coming!

5. Don’t worry about your workout

During some insomnia days, I would pressure myself into working out, thinking it would exhaust me, and I would sleep better. For me, this never worked. Again, my nerves were shot, and intense exercise just made me feel worse. If you’re craving movement, a gentle yoga class can help you feel more “in your body” and can help soothe your nervous system.

6. Find comfort where you can

On these days, wear your most comfortable clothes. Use extra pillows and blankets. If it’s financially possible, order take out instead of cooking a meal. Watch your favorite funny shows. Take a hot bath. Baby yourself, because you deserve tenderness and care.

7. Move to acceptance

I used to tell myself so many bad stories during insomnia days. “I will never sleep again.” “This day will be horrible.” “I feel like crap.” And in the moment, all of those things felt deeply true. But at some point, these things were out of my control. The morning came, and there was another day to get through. And I did just that.

What strategies help you get through the day? Let us know in the comments below!

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