6 Tips for the Day After a Bad Night's Sleep

From the WebMD Archives

Rough night last night? Everyone has a bad night of sleep now and then.

Your life won't wait until you're rested, so you'll need all the energy you can to get through today. Some of the nation's leading sleep doctors offer tips on how to power through the day after a bad night's rest.

1. Caffeine, in Moderation

Caffeine can help when you need an energy boost, as long as you don't overdo it, says sleep disorders expert Joyce Walsleben, PhD, of the NYU School of Medicine.

Two cups of coffee, for instance, will give you about as much alertness as you're going to get. Drinking more than that probably won't make you more alert, especially if you drink a lot of caffeinated beverages, says Jeffrey Durmer, MD, chief medical officer at FusionSleep Center in Atlanta.

That's partly about your brain chemistry. When you're sleep deprived, '[sleep hormones] collect in the brain all day and drinking excessive amounts of caffeine isn't going to stop that process," Durmer says. If anything, too much caffeine can give you the jitters, he says.

The same goes for over-the-counter supplements that promise to help you stay alert.

"Caffeine and supplements ... do increase attention and focus and are fine once in awhile, but in no way replace a bad night's sleep," Durmer says. If you use stay-awake supplements regularly, you might need to check with a doctor to see if you have a sleep disorder.

Energy drinks can serve a purpose when used appropriately, but for the most part, usually do more harm than good, says Michael Breus, PhD, who writes WebMD's sleep blog. Breus suggests sticking with plain black or green tea and coffee. Also, steer clear of all caffeine after 4 p.m. to avoid problems falling asleep at night, Breus says.

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