Have to Wake Up Earlier than Normal? How to Wake Up Refreshed!

Those early flights can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule.  Especially when you get to your destination and are expected to be on your top form, enjoy the sites, or even worse have a super crucial life-changing work meeting!

How are you supposed to perform with less than optimal sleep?  You can’t bank sleep hours; you can’t save up yesterdays 10 hours for today’s 4 hours.  It’s a real issue, something many of us have to face.  The fear of walking around for a day feeling like a zombie is concerning.  So how can you overcome the loss of sleep? How can you adjust faster?  Will taking more caffeine help you overcome?

Pre-Planning is Key

Pre-plan your sleep schedule.  Yes, really.  Sleep is so vital to your mental state that you NEED to pre-plan for it.  The week before your planned short sleep night you should start adjusting your sleep by 30 minutes a night/morning.  Day one get to bed 30 minutes before your normal schedule, then wake up 30 minutes earlier the next morning.  Continue adjusting by 30 minutes to your schedule for the entire week.  By using minute amounts of time per night like 30 minutes of sleep per day allows for easier changes to your circadian rhythm. 

Using this tactic can help a lot more than trying to dose yourself with enough caffeine to kill a horse, but more on that later.  Adjusting your schedule ahead of time is painless and leaves you feeling like life didn’t take a turn for the worse (if you’re into being overly dramatic about your sleep loss). 

The “Just Do It” Approach

The way most of us would deal with this situation is “Just Do It,” wake up early, sleep the four hours, you’ve got this.  Unfortunately, this can cause some serious issues if your day includes important memory functions like speeches, accounting, or sometimes even simple socializing.  Loss of sleep is linked to temporary memory loss, increased anxiety, and grumpiness.  Keep this in mind if this is the approach you choose.  

Things to consider if this is you; Try increasing your water consumption, hydration helps offset some of the issues associated with less than optimal sleep, do NOT increase your caffeine consumption, your anxiety level will already be higher.  Consider napping; a short 20-minute nap is your best option should you chose to muscle your way through shorter sleep schedules.  A quick nap can refresh your mental prowess for the time being, while it is not a recommendation for long term sleep replacement, it is the absolute best option for short term sleep schedule issues.  

Caffeine – Not Your Friend

Man with large coffee mug with sleep well logoYes, that cup of coffee looks great, tastes great, and it works on normal mornings to perk you up.  This situation though is not the normal morning; this is you running on four hours of sleep, you feeling shaky, thinking slower than normal, and just wishing for some shut-eye.  Add caffeine to the mix and you won’t feel that normal perk. What you will feel is an increase in anxiety, an increase in shaking, and if things go awry, you’ll be dealing with a headache from the increase in caffeine.  

Caffeine is great, don’t misunderstand.  The issue at this point is the likelihood of increasing your intake of caffeine due to the expected perk.  Avoid suddenly increasing your intake, especially in times when your sleep is disrupted.  You won’t be sorry for the extra caution you’ve taken in avoiding the increase.  

Get Back to Normal Sleep ASAP

You’ve made it through the day, you’ve survived the change!  Now get some sleep.  Your regular sleep schedule won’t be that hard to get back into, remember your circadian rhythm isn’t that easy to manipulate, your rhythm wants you back in bed, back asleep at a particular time.  Take advantage of this.  Make up for the loss.  Normal recovery can take as long as two days, sad but true, worse the older we get (sad, I know). 

Hope this has helped or will help you in the future.  If you take anything written here to heart, please take the caffeine section most seriously.  Suddenly increasing caffeine intake can ruin interviews, speeches, sightseeing trips, any activity you may want to partake in.  

Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions below.  What has worked for you in the past?  What experiences do you have to share?

Javier is the owner of Sleep Well, professionally trained sleep stores, specializing in specific mattresses for specific needs. He lives to give. He is an active member of his community and church. His hard work and efforts pay off for him when he can help others, and give to efforts for the betterment of others.
His spare time is spent with his beautiful wife, Gretchen. They are craft beer hobbyists who enjoy making their own beers, visiting small breweries, and making new friends. Their lives revolve around church, family, exercising, four great dogs, and keeping up with their home in Alamogordo NM.