Sleep deprivation is a badge of honor among working moms. Studies have shown that the sound of a crying baby is the number one sound that rouses women from sleep (it is not even in the top 10 for men!), and in most households I know, it is more likely for the woman to get up in the middle of the night (In my house, Mr. Idgie handles almost 100% of crying babies between 10pm and 1am and is usually the one to check the monitor at 3am to determine if the crying is an emergency or not). It is not unusual for any working mom to arrive at her 9am status meeting with less than 3 hours of sleep for the third day in a row because her bundle of joy is teething/had a bad dream/wanted to play at 2:13am. Here are four tips to stay sharp throughout the day, even when you want to Costanza it and nap under your desk.

1. Caffeine up! Drink that first cup of coffee/tea/soda earlier than you normally do. Be careful not to drink too much more than your normal intake or imbibe after 1pm since that can affect your sleep patterns and you’ll be back in the same situation tomorrow. If caffeinated beverages aren’t for you, a piece of dark chocolate has enough caffeine for a pick-me-up but not enough sugar for a major crash. Also, ginseng has similar stimulant properties without the caffeine.
2. Move around. Take a brisk walk around your office do office chair calisthenics to get your muscles loosened and blood flowing. If possible, get outside and breathe some fresh air. I’ve been known to go outside and walk laps around the office building or around the block to wake up.
3. Do a short brain teaser. Take your mind off work for a couple minutes and try out the daily crossword or Sudoku puzzle. This will use a different part of your brain than you usually use and give your “work brain” a rest. Don’t spend all day on trying to figure out 4-across; a 10 minute break is enough to keep yourself mentally sharp.
4. Drink a cold glass of water. Cold water is refreshing and hydrating, especially after all that coffee you drank earlier! Mid-day fatigue can be often traced back to dehydration, so drink that water!

3 Responses to 4 tips for keeping sharp after staying up all night with a crying baby

  1. Personally, I see nothing wrong with an under-nap desk. I have done it many times. Once I was discovered under my desk with a stack of contracts and a highlighter. Nothing like a little light reading to put you out!

  2. Or an under-desk nap, for that matter….

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