Remember when you turned down that date with a supermodel so you wouldn’t miss the launch announcement of that one game? Yea, we don’t either, but you were sure playing the hell out of it like it was true.
Or maybe it’s 5AM and you’ve been up all night preparing for a test or presentation.
Either way, two things are brutally true: sleep is not an option and today is gonna be rough.
Keep reading to learn more about what’s happening in your sleep-deprived body and for some useful hacks to help you stay sharp even though all you’re daydreaming about is giving your pillow some head.
Sleep is your friend
Before we get to the tips & tricks, keep in mind that sleep is massively important to your health and mental performance.
Even though you’re off in dreamland, your body is still hard at work, recovering from the day’s activities.
Some of that work includes:
- healing damaged cells
- boosting your immune system
- refreshing your heart and cardiovascular system
- strengthening synapses (so you can remember those map layouts and game strategies much more easily!)
… so yeah, that “rested” feeling you have after waking up in the morning proves that your body accomplishes some pretty amazing things while you’re asleep.
Your world without sleep = sucky
We’ve all forgotten to charge our phones after a long day of calls, writing texts and emails and all the important things (gaming). It’s super annoying when you hit that 15% mark, but it happens. And when it does, your only option is to switch to battery-save mode and hope it stays alive long enough to get through the day.
This is a lot like what happens in your body when you go without sleep, except the human body is way more complicated than a phone and your body’s battery-save mode is a lot less efficient, but in some fascinating ways.
For one, going without sleep can literally make you a worse person.
Lack of sleep impairs higher brain function and activates your “lizard brain”, making you more likely to cheat, lie, act unethically and just make generally bad decisions that “aren’t you”.
And it definitely doesn’t end there, either:
- You experience physiological cravings for unhealthy foods, especially sugary ones.
- You’re super tired and may even get depressed.
- Your memory doesn’t work properly and staying focused on something is much more difficult.
- Your risk of having a car accident increases the same way it does with alcohol and drug use.
Some of these effects show up immediately (sleepiness), while regularly going without sleep can lead to long-term problems like permanently poor sleep patterns, and lots of serious health issues.
So yeah, tons of reasons to do everything you can to regularly get enough sleep and limit sleepless nights as much as possible.
Alright, that was the “we told you so” part…
Now here’s how to make it through the day after you ignore our advice.
1. STAY HYDRATED & EAT SMART
Dehydration = lower blood pressure, causing even more fatigue because less blood makes it to your brain. Not good.
To prevent that, drink water. Pure water.
Colas, energy drinks and sugary drinks in general are a bad idea and there’s a good reason for that: Orexin.
Orexin is a neuropeptide (brain chemical) that regulates wakefulness and metabolism.
Sugar blocks these cells, meaning that it actually makes it harder for your body to stay awake. Lame, right?
Swap out that sugary stuff for foods that help orexin do its job. High-protein foods like eggs and chicken breasts are great for this because they contain amino acids that trigger orexin cells and even protect them from being turned off.
Speaking of food… just say no to junk food. As much as you may want it, especially in “lizard brain” mode, avoid it like Trap Adventure 2 – you’ll thank us later on both counts.
Just like with sweet drinks, eating those chips or chocolate will give you a quick but VERY short-lived energy spike and then a massive (and brutal) crash.
Instead, choose healthier foods that have natural sugars – the energy they provide lasts longer and will help prevent crashes. Our suggestions:
- greek yogurt
- sweet potatoes
- mom’s spaghetti (because she loves you)
These foods are tasty and won’t leave you drooling on your desk at go-time.
2. GET YOURSELF SOME CAFFEINE
If you’re tired and need to stay awake, caffeine is most likely the first thing that comes to mind, and with good reason.
Found in several natural sources like coffee berries and tea leaves, caffeine increases brain activity, making you feel more energetic.
As common as it is, caffeine often gets a lot of bad press, so before we get to why it’s awesome, we want to address some of the misconceptions about it being bad:
“Caffeine is addictive” → While excessive intake can lead to a mild dependence, caffeine does not cause the severe withdrawal symptoms that are associated with alcohol or drugs. “Caffeine causes heart disease” → Just no. No scientific study has been able to reliably link moderate caffeine usage to any type of heart disease. “Caffeine is just baaaad” → It actually:
- boosts brain activity and memory,
- improves mood and metabolism,
- enhances exercise performance,
- and some serious research studies acknowledge its potential for reducing the risk of Parkinson’s disease and gout.
Science has begun to rethink its opinion on caffeine being a “necessary evil” and as you can see, the results are actually pretty neat.
Now, let’s get back to that energetic feeling: how does caffeine make it happen?
Drowsiness happens when adenosine binds to receptors in your brain, causing nerve activity to slow down. Caffeine and adenosine belong to a chemical group called xanthines. This means that caffeine is able to occupy the adenosine receptors (adenosine be like Forrest Gump on the school bus) and activate its own effects instead.
Instead of slowing down cell activity like adenosine would, caffeine accelerates nerve cell activity, also causing your body to produce adrenaline. And voilà – the boost we all know and love.
So that’s how caffeine works. Now let’s talk about the best way to get some in you.
First off, forget about energy drinks. Yes, they have caffeine, but the insane amount of sugar in them will only lead you to a major crash, especially if you’re not being physically active while drinking it.
Coffee is a much better alternative. One or two cups should be enough, but everybody’s different and the key part here is to not overdo it – too much and you can kiss your focus bye-bye.
Also, don’t drink it fast. Start sipping your first cup as you get tired and then have another a couple hours after that. The same applies for other caffeine options, including black and green tea.
If you choose to use MADMONQ®, follow the instructions on the leaflet and do not exceed 2 tablets per day.
3. MOVE YOUR BUTT
Whether you’re gaming or studying, schedule some breaks into it. Stretching your muscles and moving around help blood flow, refreshing your mind and keeping you focused. For extra effect, add a little light exercise.
Also, if you’ve been staring at a computer screen, use the break to look at something else for a while to relax your eye muscles.
Ideally, take a break every 45–60 minutes.
FUN FACT: If you stick to our advice about staying hydrated, this step should be easy, cuz… you know… bathroom breaks.
RESPONSIBLE TIP: Remember the increased risk of a car accident we mentioned earlier? Yeah, still true – don’t drive. Walk. Or use public transport. Apart from being an awesome refresher you will score some extra points with your parents.
4. SOAK UP SOME SUN
After a long night, take a walk outside to get some fresh air and improve your circulation. If the sun’s shining, that’s even better! Sunlight regulates melatonin levels and helps your body’s clock endure the punishment you’re giving it. If the sun is AFK, try to sit under stronger white lights for a while.
5. NIGHT TIME IS THE RIGHT TIME
As tempting as it may be, avoid taking a nap and just go to bed earlier that day.
While it won’t be the end of the world if you do take a nap, waking up from it is going to be rough. Not only will you wake up wondering where, when and who you are (think Neo and the red pill), taking a nap will throw off your circadian rhythms, making it harder to sleep normally that night and get back onto a regular schedule.
Also, before you finally do go to bed, minimize exposure to bright screens and outside light. That means ditch the phone and close your drapes.
Now you’re ready to enjoy that well-deserved sleep. Good night.
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