6 Ways to Make it Through a Workday With Little Sleep

If you have a full time job, chances are you aren’t getting enough sleep. In 2015 British Scientist Paul Kelley of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at Oxford University discovered that a typical Western workday is unhealthy and that starting work anytime before 10am is damaging to adult and adolescent brains. But the economy has to move on and there’s nothing you can do about it so you’d better take a look at these tricks to keep you going when you haven’t had enough sleep.

sleep truck

6) Slack off

Many of us think we can be a superhero and make it through with or without sleep. Many of us feel that we have to do this or risk being a bad employee. The truth is that there is no way to function at peak performance without the right amount of rest, but you can function at considerably lower than peak performance. On the day after a night with little sleep, lighten your daily work goal. Were you hoping to get the entire filing system reorganised today? Well maybe just do half of it instead. Or a quarter, or even ten percent. In the grand scheme of things, how important can the job really be?

lazy bear

5) Fake that you are working

This could be tricky depending on the job. If you work in an office, tell your boss you have a lunch meeting with a potential new client then when you get back to the office after two hours of napping in your car or the park down the street, say the deal fell through. If you work in a more hands on environment like a workshop or construction site, offer to take out the trash or do some other task that will take you away from the eyes of management and catch a couple of winks behind the dumpster. It may sound demeaning, but that’s the price of being a functioning member of society. You could also offer to go on a coffee run then return lamenting the length of the line.

business cat

4) Have an easy task on hand for these days

If you know ahead of time that you will be working on little sleep, have a plan so that you can look busy without actually doing anything. Keep an easy and unimportant but time-consuming task in your back pocket that you can do when you have no energy to focus on real work. This can be defragmenting your hard drive or running other security sweeps, double checking work you have already completed, and organising your emails.

relax easy

3) “Work” from home

If you have a job where this is possible, do it. And despite those cheeky quotation marks, you really can get a lot of work done from home. In fact on a day with little sleep, you can get even more work done from home than you could at work because you can just sleep in until you’re rested enough and work later until the job is done. You also save time by not needing to look good or travel. A large contributor to sleep deprivation is the fact that many people need two to four hours every morning before even starting work to account for things like commuting, grooming, and putting on makeup. And important things like breakfast or morning exercises and spiritual practice can be rushed when getting to work on time is a priority. When you work from home you can stay in your pyjamas, leave your hair a mess, and get to work comfortably within an hour of waking up.

Christmas feet

2) Quit your job

If your job doesn’t fit your sleepless lifestyle, get a new one that does. Hourly paying jobs can take their toll physically and mentally. Just waking up to an alarm instead of naturally can wreak havoc on the brain. Many people who become fed up with their hourly or salary jobs choose to make a career switch to contracting instead. Now in the internet age, this is easier than ever. Sites and apps like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr allow you to take on only the jobs that interest you, and on your own time.

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1) Nourish yourself

If your job doesn’t allow you opportunities to slack off and quitting just isn’t an option, you can at least make sure you have a tank full of fuel to see you through the hellish day ahead by eating a big, healthy breakfast. And as a last resort, there’s always coffee. Caffeine can kickstart your metabolism and give you an artificial energy boost, but remember to exercise caution when using caffeine in this way. It is an unregulated, habit forming drug and while there may be some benefits to using it, there are some dangers too. Check out our myths and facts about caffeine. If you don’t like coffee, try these non-coffee caffeine sources.


The best way to make it through any day is to get a good night’s sleep. When that isn’t possible you have to do what you can. Hopefully these tips will help see you through.


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