a woman stands in a shower with light shining on her happy face while she holds a cup of coffee

How I Jump-Start My Day After a Poor Night of Sleep

Sleep disruption is a normal stress response; however, thanks to cognitive behavioural techniques for insomnia, and acceptance and commitment approaches, I no longer get distressed about these poor sleep nights. My sleep returns to normal quite quickly.

I do the same things now after a stormy night that I used to do when I had insomnia, and these things still help me get going in the morning and support me in tackling my day.

Checking my mindset

The first thing I do when I realise I have slept poorly is that I make sure my mindset is pointing me toward future good nights, instead of down the slippery slope into more bad nights. I do this by reminding myself that blips in sleep are normal and that I have survived many days after bad nights of sleep.

There is no need to make it worse by pointing my "threat radar" at bedtime and winding up the hyperarousal that kept my insomnia going in the first place.

Cold showers and caffeine

I'm not generally fond of cold showers, but nothing gets me going like stepping into a cold shower. It takes my breath away, my hair stands on end, my energy gets pumping, and the cobwebs vanish from my eyes. That bloated stingy feeling in my face disappears faster than I can jump backwards out of the water.

I treat myself to an extra nice breakfast, including some extra coffee. A bit more coffee than usual can help me push through the fatigue first thing and keep me a bit more active throughout the day. This also helps build my sleep drive, reinforcing the likelihood of deeper sleep the coming night. I no longer really worry about how much coffee I drink, but I do be sure to cut myself off (or switch to decaf!) by around 1 pm at the latest.

Stepping out into the light

Once I've showered, dressed, and eaten, I might take that extra cuppa and head outside, weather and light permitting. Bringing myself to a place that is light and bright (and even better with some fresh air!) helps perk me up and wake my brain. I can no longer imagine sitting quietly in a dim room and making it through the morning without a struggle.

When it's summer here in the UK, and it's broad daylight at 5 AM - I'm up and out in my garden chair watching the world wake up. When it's winter and dark until 8 AM, I am in the brightest room in the house – the kitchen – where there are both bright overhead lights and lots of windows.

Movement energises me for the day ahead

On that sunlit deck in summer, I'll do my workout right there before my workday starts. In the winter, I'll get moving, but I'll do it indoors. My music will be going, and my body will be moving, and this energises me for my day. I might not feel super energetic when I get going - because I'm a bit fatigued - but no matter how much I do or I don't do, I feel good for having done it and feel a bit more awake.

All of these things help give me physical and mental energy through the day after a bad night of sleep - and they helped me when my sleeplessness was more chronic. What do you do to get yourself jump-started?

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