Thursday, February 12, 2009

A 4-Step Approach To Overcoming A Sleep Deprived Work Day

Well, it happened again. With Rozanne (my wife) out with a broken ankle, I've really had to pick-up the slack getting dinner and clean-up done, evening baths, bedtime stories and at least 1 load of laundry every night. I'll tell you one thing, it's made me appreciate her a lot more.

Last night was particularly tough. With tax season coming up fast and furiously, I was up last night until 2am getting some receipts and tax stuff organized for a meeting with my book keeper. I hate not finishing a job, or leaving things to the last minute (my meeting is on Friday), so I was adamant on getting at least 1/2 of the job done.

So this morning, when I got up at 5am - 3 hours later - needless to say, I was a little groggy. Having been through this many times before (nightmares - not mine; bed wetting - again, not mine; major presentations/projects/articles), I've developed a (somewhat) regular routine to battle the grogginess and low energy that I know will plague me throughout the day.

So since I know that it's virtually impossible for us to be fully prepared for everything in our busy dad/busy parent lives, I'd like to share with you my 4-step approach to GETTING THROUGH A SLEEP DEPRIVED DAY:


1. Water - Hydration is hugely important in this scenario. I just fill up my 1L SiGG water bottle (it's one of those new fancy aluminum ones) and make sure that it's done before I leave the house and then fill it up again before I get in the car (or get on my bike). Water seems to give me clarity and several experts suggest that it sparks creativity which is especially helpful in the early morning when I'm trying to write an article or blog post. Water usually ties me over until I start to feel like I need some...

2. Espresso (or Green Tea) - Yes, there he goes again talking about coffee. On a 3-hour sleep night, if you can avoid caffeine and get by, well then you're a better man than me, my friend!

The fact of the matter is that coffee is the #1 source of anti-oxidants in an average North American's diet. I'll fully admit that I'm an espresso junkie. Why? Well, because it's HEALTHIER THAN COFFEE.

- Espresso has less caffeine in it than regular drip coffee (50mg in a double shot as opposed to 135mg in a reg cup of coffee).
- It's less acidic (drip coffee loses all its benefit after the first cup is passed through the grounds, after that, all that's being extracted is pure caffeine and acid...ever wonder why you feel like you have to go to the bathroom after a cup of coffee?)
- Espresso is a HIGHER QUALITY product because it comes directly from the bean. If you go to a coffee house that takes pride how they "pull" their espresso or brew their coffee, you'll actually see them grind up the beans right before your eyes before the put it in the portafilter and pull your espresso.

3. Think FRESH, Eat FRESH - It may seem like logic to grab the fastest thing you can scarf down your throat - usually in the form of some "energy" bar/drink, or a bagel/piece of toast or some other sugary crap, but that is probably the worst thing you can do.

But when you're sleep deprived, your immune system is already compromised. White sugar (in the form of simple/processed/unnatural carbohydrates) has been proven to suppress the immune system even further. So that bagel with cream cheese that you just ate will probably end up making you feel crappier later on.

Instead, opt for fresh and natural...apples, berries, any vegetable, eggs or a healthy shake/smoothie are better choices than any fast food.

In fact, I usually save myself the guesswork by just taking 5 minutes before I head off to bed (I guess that meant that I actually went to bed at 2:05am) to make sure I had something prepared for this morning. I ate a baggie of sliced red peppers, an apple and 3 scrambled eggs this morning - the apple and peppers were ready to go and I made the eggs while my girls were eating their oatmeal this morning.

4. Energy Recovery Workouts - Here's the truth about workouts when you're sleep deprived. If sleep deprivation is a constant thing in your life these days, chances are that your immune system is a little depleted from it - you're stressed.

Since training is also stress, then adding more stress to your body isn't always the optimal thing to do for the day after a long night....

HOLD ON, I'm NOT giving you carte blanche to skip your workout just yet.

Rather than doing one of those long, marathon-like workouts where you pound your body for an hour straight (like running on a treadmill or doing some type of cardio exercise where you don't take breaks, or trying to break the squat record in the weight room), what you should be doing is some energy promoting stuff that won't tax your immune system making you sick the next day.

My solution is bodyweight circuits that won't take more than 2 to 3 minutes to complete one circuit. Go through each circuit 4 or 5 times resting 1 minute between each circuit. If you do that, that's a total of only 12-15 minutes of quality work (as opposed to regular cardio that's usually 30-60 minutes of total, non-stop stress on your body).

Doing the BW circuits will get your metabolic rate up and help you with those low energy moments that you'll have later in the day.

Here's a link to a couple of my favorites....

=>FitAndBusyDad Advanced Bodyweight Circuit

If you've got the time, Yoga, Tai Chi or Qi Gong would also be great forms of energy rejuvinating exercises.

Remember, sleep deprivation, pulling "all-nighters" or just not getting enough shut eye on any given night is, unfortunately, a part of parenthood. We all work. We all need to get things done.
And sometimes, we need to sacrifice some sleep to play catch-up.

Just try not to make a habit of it, and follow the steps above and you should be able to survive without any negative effects.

Have a Great Day Guys,
Chris
The FitAndBusyDad

P.S. For more Energy Rejuvinating Bodyweight Circuits, pick-up your copy of the FitAndBusyDad Training System!

=>Get Started With FitAndBusyDad Workouts!

5 comments:

john said...

Chris--

As a doc and single dad following your "big daddy" program right now--outstanding advice. Two more things--data shows a 20 minute "catnap" during which one tries not to go into a deep sleep works very well. Finally, turns out sunlight can help short-term, too
keep it coming, C
John Barrett MD

FitAndBusyDad said...

Thanks for the kind words, John. I appreciate the advice and will make sure that make everyone aware of the catnap and sunlight.

Let me know how the Big Daddy programs works out for you!

Chris

Matt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...

Hey,

I enjoyed your article.
Thanks for the tips

Matt Bradbury
www.trainmefit.com

Anonymous said...

Hey there,

I may not be a parent, but I occasionally do like to burn the midnight oil on a school(work) night, but this is some good advice,in which I will be making use of in the future.