Can You Fake Sleep?

Tired guy with hands on his face

Can You Fake Sleep?

We’ve all been there. You wake up 10 to 15 times during the night and think, “I give up, I’m just going to feel exhausted tomorrow.” Maybe you toss and turn a few more times before the alarm goes off, but the sad reality is that you are getting next to no sleep. Calling in sick is not an option since you have a big presentation to give at work (or school) and you need to be energized enough to at least seem like you are coherent. Usually we would recommend you upgrade your mattress or try some new nighttime routines that will prepare you for a good night’s rest. Unfortunately, no matter what we do, there will be a few times where our bodies just say “no” to sleep. So, what do you do? Here are a few tips to help you “fake it ‘til you make it.”

Convince Yourself

There was a study done in 2014 where participants were told that they either had a great night’s sleep or a poor night’s sleep. In actuality, the participants had varying degrees of hours slept. What was interesting about this experiment was that the participants that were told that they had slept well performed significantly better on cognitive tests versus the group that were told that they had slept poorly. This study became known as “placebo sleep” since the results indicated that when a person believes that he or she had rested enough, then performance is better as a result. This can be likened to when researchers give participants sugar pills that act as a placebo for a new drug experiment. While this is not a long-term solution if you are not sleeping well, a day or two of bad sleep can be mitigated with this approach. Tell yourself that you have enough reserve energy to make it through the day and try not to dwell on the number of hours that you slept.

Take some precautions

Now that you have your positive mindset on and believe that you can do what needs to be done regardless of shuteye, here are some hacks that will keep you moving through the day.

  1.  A Cold Shower – I know it’s not fun, but taking a cold shower will increase your heart rate, making your body warm up and wake up on its own. You don’t need to spend a long time in there turning into an icicle, just a minute or so on cold should do fine.
  2. Business as Usual – Do everything you normally would do to get ready for the big day. It is important from a psychological standpoint that you treat the day like any other and your mood will follow suit. This will also be important when convincing others that you are alert. So, don’t skip out on make-up if you normally wear it or shaving your face!
  3. Coffee is King – This might be an obvious one, but a dose of caffeine can really go a long way in giving you that energy boost that you’re craving. Even if you don’t normally drink coffee, it might be a good idea to have one for emergency “no-sleep” days.
  4. Get Moving – Sitting at your desk all day is a good way to remind your body that it’s sleep deprived and will make you sleepy quickly. Try to stay active by walking around the office or perhaps taking a quick jog during your lunch break.

Now that you’ve gotten a pep talk and have a few tricks to help you look rested, we know you are going to rock that presentation. It is important to remember that this is not a long-term strategy. After a day or two, you will need to sleep, and by that, I mean a full 8 hours or more to recover. Think of this as an emergency plan and not as an alternative to sleeping. Hopefully you won’t have to use this “emergency plan” more than a few times a year, but make sure you bookmark this page just in case!

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