We’ve all been there. We’ve had a really late night, only dozing off as daylight is already filtering through the curtains – and when a full working day is almost knocking on our door.
Whether you’ve been out partying or on your couch glued to Netflix, a bad night’s sleep can ruin the following day. You’ll be less alert and less productive, probably snapping at whoever’s unfortunate enough to cross your sleepy path. That’s if you make it into work in the first place.
Obviously, the long-term solution for this is to adjust your sleeping habits. Because we all need decent sleep to be healthier, happier people, right? Right. But for a quick fix for the day after the night before, here are a few cheeky tricks to catch some sleep at work. You’re welcome.
1. Have a bathroom break
While getting your snore on in the stall may not seem like the best idea, even closing your eyes for 1–2 minutes can be all you need. Sometimes you just need to rest and recharge those batteries by any means necessary and if you work somewhere where people can see you from all angles, well you might just need to escape for some privacy.
Think of it more like getting some space rather than getting some sleep. Use those few minutes to breathe deeply, focusing on the movement of the breath in and out of your abdomen, and trying to stay with that rather than work or life-related worries. These moments of mindfulness can refresh you even better than say, an hour’s extra sleep. Yay!
2. Escape to the car
Loudly announce that you’ve to bring the car to the garage, or rescue your cat, or some other excuse, and pop down to the car for a quick nap. Don’t have a car to hide in? Hop on the bus or train for a couple of stops while you run some faux errand. Or if it’s sunny out, have a quick lie down in the park.
All of these ideas can have you back at your desk within half an hour – probably the time your co-workers take to nip out for that morning caffeine fix anyway! Just be careful they don’t see you catching some rays and some zzzs on their way back. The grass below your office building is probably not the most inconspicuous spot to pick.
3. Take advantage of that corner office
Ok, this one might be for the big bosses who are lucky enough to have their own office. And who probably shouldn’t be sleeping on the job in the first place. But if you’ve had a late night prepping for that meeting or have to catch an early flight, there’s no reason why you can’t make your private office your temporary bedroom.
And this can extend to your working hours if you’re exhausted – simply pop a ‘do not disturb’ note on the door, tell your secretary to hold all calls and grab a 15-minute kip. Whether it’s in your chair, on the couch, or on top of the portable bed you keep for such occasions, a power nap usually lives up to its name. Once you open that office door again you’ll be refreshed, revitalized and ready for work.
4. Just ask!
So many times in life we over-complicate things and take on unnecessary stress when we could just ask for help. In many cases, your employer will respect your honesty if you simply state that you’re exhausted, that you couldn’t sleep the previous night for whatever reason and would he/she mind if you popped out for some air or – if you’re brave enough to do so – had a micro nap at your desk.
Obviously, if your lack of sleep is due to that all-night rave they might be less forgiving; but if you’re a new mom, or are experiencing family problems, you’d be surprised how understanding people can be.
The Japanese actually see napping as a mark of a good worker. This is because people often work themselves to the point of exhaustion and take the opportunity to sleep everywhere – on the subway, on park benches and yes, even at work. So maybe your employer will see things from their perspective!
Most of the time they won’t pry for details but will acknowledge that you’re normally a very capable worker who is just clearly having an off-day and needs a break. Heck, you might even get a chance to knock off early…imagine the relief!
So the next time you feel your head drawing closer and closer to that desk, do something about it. Go for a quick kip in the bathroom, the car, the floor of your office – whatever you can get away with. Or if taking the honesty route, ’fess up to your employer when you first feel the warning signs. Trust me, it’s better than getting caught with drool all over your face and the giggles of co-workers ringing in your ears!
Most importantly, get into a proper sleep cycle during your non-working hours. Hitting the sack earlier means you’ll have gotten your 7–9 recommended hours in well before your alarm goes off. And you’ll be up and ready to face the day without any need to sleep at work.