If you want to be on top form on any given day (and why wouldn't you), then the single most important factor is your sleep. A good night's sleep will be the difference between being highly productive, wide awake and full of energy, or tired, lethargic and grumpy. Don't get your full eight hours and you simply won't be doing your best work – and you might even make yourself ill if this is a regular occurrence.
But while getting the best possible sleep is imperative, it unfortunately isn't always possible. Sometimes life just gets in the way, and whether you have a night out, the neighbour is having a house party, or you just feel stressed and restless, sometimes you will inevitably not sleep as well as others.
Don't fear though. If you've failed to get as much sleep as you'd like that doesn't mean the day has to be completely wasted: if you follow the tips below then you can still salvage it and you may find you still manage to get some enjoyment out of it and to get some work done.
How to Make it Through a Tired Day
Drink a Strong Coffee: The first thing you can do to wake yourself up and get your day off to an acceptable start, is to get some caffeine down you. When you drink caffeine it blocks A1 receptors, which prevents the brain from picking up on a build-up of 'adenosine'. Adenosine is a by-product of normal brain function that builds up and makes us tired and is normally cleared up when you sleep. By using caffeine you can get rid of any that remains and thus feel more awake and alert – clearing up some of that brain fog that we all fear.
The best time to drink coffee is 30 minutes before your working day starts, as that's how long it takes for the brain to start making use of it.
Don't Fret About It: While you definitely do need a certain amount of sleep in order to perform optimally, it's also true that a placebo effect can take place – or rather a 'nocebo' (nocebos are 'negative' placebos). In one study (1) it was found that people believed themselves to be tireder and performed worse on studies when they believed they had a worse night's sleep – even when that wasn't true. If you believe you will be groggy all day, then you won't function well at work. But if you believe that you're going to do just fine, you'll feel a lot better. So stop stressing about not sleeping and focus on making the most of your situation.
Get Outside: Sunlight and fresh air can have an invigorating effect and help you to feel awake again. If you spend some time outside in the sun this will tell your brain it's day time and that will lead to a reduction in the sleep hormone melatonin. The fresh air will meanwhile be invigorating and if it's cool, you'll increase your metabolism for a quick energy boost.
Organise the Day Accordingly: No matter how you may feel, the first three hours upon waking up after a less-than-ideal night will be your most productive and the time that you feel the best. Thus, in order to have the most productive day possible, it should be during this window of opportunity that you pursue the most difficult tasks and those that require the most focus and creativity. Plan your menial and repetitive tasks for later in the same day.