Regardless of how old your offspring are, the prospect of getting your full eight hours of shut-eye might seem pretty laughable once you have children.
Whether you're in the blissful (but bone-achingly exhausting) newborn phase, or your teen's antics leave you tossing and turning all night long — suffering from lack of sleep will likely become a common theme throughout your parenting journey.
But while dealing with sleep deprivation is less than ideal, there are a few things you can do to boost your severely depleted energy levels quicker than you can say, "But first, coffee..."
1. Rise and shine
If you can, head outdoors for at least 30 minutes as soon as possible upon waking. Whether this means having your breakfast on the balcony, bundling your kids into the pram and heading straight to the park or walking to work, exposure to daylight – especially first thing in the morning – boosts our serotonin levels, which, in turn, boosts our overall mood. If going outside isn't an option, pull back the curtains and let as much natural light into your home as you can.
2. Wake up and smell the coffee
A cup of coffee is the proverbial pick me up we all need in the face of a sleepless night, but once that initial buzz subsides it can leave you craving cup after cup. Instead of exceeding the recommended daily caffeine limit of 300mg-400mg (which is approximately five espresso shots or one Starbucks Venti), researchers at Harvard Medical School suggest that drinking a small amount of coffee periodically throughout the day could stabilise your energy levels. Not a fan of coffee? Further studies show that even the smell of coffee can help you feel more alert.
3. Move it, sister
Granted, it's probably the last thing you feel like doing, but a little bit of exercise can go a long way when you're feeling shattered. Evidence shows that even a brisk 10-minute walk can boost our energy levels for up to two hours, with the movement stimulating alertness in the brain and banishing that fatigue-induced fog. Steer clear of doing anything too strenuous though, as exercising when exhausted is a sure-fire way to get injured.
4. Take a deep breath
If at any point throughout the day you find yourself seriously lagging, do as the yogis do and instantly boost your energy levels through a simple breathing exercise. The Bellows Breath is a traditional breathing technique that involves taking rapid but shallow breaths through your nose, the idea being that you end up feeling just as invigorated afterwards as you would following a workout. Try doing three sets of 15 seconds initially, but give this exercise a miss altogether if you're currently pregnant or have high blood pressure.
5. Ditch the sweet stuff
There's a very good reason you always find yourself reaching for sugary snacks following a restless night's sleep. When tired, our bodies crave the fast release energy of sugar — but any energy spike you experience will be quickly followed by a crushing low, leaving you feeling more depleted than before you indulged.
Resist the urge to raid the biscuit tin and instead opt for complex carbs such as oatmeal, bananas, green veggies and whole grains, which help stave off hunger and fight fatigue. Ditto the fizzy drinks; stay away from the soda and stick to water instead — dehydration will only add to any feelings of sluggishness.
6. Take a power nap
If all else fails (and you get the opportunity) treat yourself to a nap. 20-30 minutes of shut-eye will improve your short term alertness but anything longer will actually make you feel worse and anything less is, well, kind of pointless. Don't fret if you don't immediately drop off; you don't actually need to be completely asleep in order to reap the benefits of a good nap, even just falling into a half awake state will help leave you feeling refreshed.