8 Quick Tricks To Help You Focus When You Just Didn't Get Enough Sleep

by Leigh Weingus

So you didn't get enough sleep last night.

Maybe you were up worrying about work, school or that guy who never texted you back. Or perhaps you were out late partying and didn't get into bed until 2 am (hey, we've all been there).

In any case, when your alarm went off at 6:30 am, you were pretty damn sure about one thing -- you did not get enough sleep.

You've got a long day of work ahead of you and you're going to need some serious help concentrating. While we would prefer it if you always got seven to eight hours of sleep per night, we understand that it's not always possible.

So in case of emergency, here's what you should do.

Drink coffee.

As long as you're not drinking it with tons of sugar (in other words, no mochas allowed), coffee is a great move when you didn't get enough sleep.

Coffee is full of benefits, like helping you live longer and making you happier. It's also famous for helping people all over the world wake up and it improves concentration.

So as long as you don't go too overboard, drinking a few cups of coffee throughout the day can really help you out.

Take a walk.

If you're really exhausted, exercise probably sounds like the least appealing thing ever.

But a walk can do wonders for your energy level, so try taking a walk around your building. But if your exhaustion is making you want to hide behind a huge pair of sunglasses during your walk, try to resist the temptation.

As Sean Drummond, a psychiatrist at the Laboratory of Sleep and Behavioral Neuroscience at UC San Diego explains to Science Of Us,

If you wear your sunglasses, the right frequency of sunlight can’t get into your eyes.

When you need all the help you can get, don't skimp on natural light.

If you can take a nap, do it.

We know, we know. Putting your head down on your desk for a 20-minute snooze isn't the most professional look.

But a nap can be a pretty awesome tool if you desperately need to concentrate -- according to the National Sleep Foundation, a short nap can greatly improve alertness and focus.

Maybe your office has a nap pod or maybe you have a car you can take a quick snooze in on your lunch break.

Give it a try if you can!


There's a lot of power in a deep breath. It increases blood flow to the brain, which is why we yawn so much when we're tired.

So take a few moments to breathe deeply, whether it's at your desk or while on that walk we urged you to take.

Eliminate distractions.

So you've got a huge task in front of you, but your phone is also sitting on your desk and you've got tons of texts coming in. You also have four Gchat conversations going at once and you keep logging onto Facebook for no reason.

This is a recipe for disaster even if you're not tired.

Sorry, but if you want to focus today, you're going to have to eliminate those distractions. Your friends and news feed can wait. You've got work to do and no time to waste!

Try standing up while you work.

You've heard that sitting is the new smoking, right?

Whether your company provides standing desks or there's a high table you can rest your laptop on for an hour or two, try standing up while you work.

It's more active than sitting down, which will improve your focus.

Shower (or just splash water on your face).

There's nothing quite like waking up with a super hot shower, so on those rough mornings make sure you carve out a few minutes for a nice hot shower.

And, as you find your concentration slipping throughout the day, try splashing a little water on your face.

Apologies in advance for any damage this causes to your makeup.

Eat the good stuff.

When you're exhausted, it's easy to crave foods you know will give you an immediate energy boost (not to mention taste really good) like a doughnut, muffin or bagel stuffed with bacon and cheese.

Although these foods may give you a jolt of energy in the moment, they'll quickly lead to a crash that will just leave you more exhausted and less focused.

So if you need an energy boost throughout your super-tired day, make sure you're filling up on foods that will keep your energy up like whole grains, vegetables and good fats.

Our suggestion? Avocado toast. Just make sure you're having it on whole grain bread.

Good luck. And don't forget to get some sleep tonight.