As I start writing, it’s 4:43 a.m. but I woke up at 2:12 a.m. and have been awake ever since. Up until now I’ve made a hot cup of tea, watched an episode of, ‘Silk’ (British court drama series), and tried unsuccessfully to return to bed at 4:00 a.m. It’s the beginning of a very long day ahead.
So what could sharing this possibly do in any way to help you with respect to getting a job or performing well at the one you’ve got? In a word; plenty.
Generally speaking I’m the kind of person whose head hits the pillow and within two minutes is well on the way to full REM sleep. It’s a wonderful gift that I am very thankful for. And most nights, I’m sleeping soundly until the hour of 5 a.m. When you head to bed just after 10 p.m., well there’s my seven hours. Today though, it’s down to just over four.
You too will have days like this. You’ll wake up at some point maybe worrying about something about to happen; an interview, the big presentation, the prospect of meeting someone new either personally or professionally, giving a speech. Or like me, maybe you can’t quite determine exactly anything specifically that’s on your mind. It doesn’t really matter because reason or not, you’re wide awake.
And when you face the prospect of having to get up – oops, we’re already up – and get to work and put in a productive seven, eight or more hours, the prospect isn’t attractive. So you’ve got options; 1) call in sick when you’re just in need of some sleep. 2) take a sleeping pill or other sleep medication 3) distract your mind with some numbing television or a book you can delve into 4) pace about, sleep fitfully on the couch, get up, lie down and get more agitated, 5) repeatedly ask your spouse if they are awake until they actually are so you have someone to commiserate with your sleeplessness. I don’t recommend number 5; it doesn’t end well.
Now for me personally, calling in ill is rarely an option except when I am deathly ill. Being tired and up half the night doesn’t qualify; and that perfect attendance record I’m shooting for is still intact this late in September. There’s not a prize you understand, it’s just my own standard.
The sleep medication? Oh it might help me drift off to lullaby land, but boy would I find it hard to rise and shine with a spring in my step. The worry over then sleeping in and being rushed or late wouldn’t be a healthy relaxing combination. And driving to work for an hour feeling drugged and groggy isn’t appealing. Your welcome fellow drivers.
Oh and I did try the television show. Not a bad episode at all, but I was actually into it, and it didn’t do much therefore to numb me to sleep. I even tried returning to bed but lying there for a prolonged time usually only results in getting a headache; know thyself and avoid a second problem if possible.
No the solution that really works best is in this person’s opinion is to look ahead at your day. If nothing is on your calendar, do your best to keep your visibility low. After all, despite your little bursts of creative energy, it’s likely you won’t be at your very best. And as the day wears on, you might even find the last few hours of the day to be even more challenging. Although you yourself might not be entirely objective, others might observe behaviour or comments that isn’t in keeping with your usual performance.
By way of example, you may be irritable, quick to dismiss others comments, look strained, yawn, withdraw, be subdued, drink more caffeine-laced drinks like coffee or a Coke. Even your pace around the office might be slower as the day wears on, and you might be short with people on the phone.
If this kind of thing doesn’t happen often and is quite rare, you might even have the kind of job where you can walk in, announce you’ve had a rough night of it, and apologize in advance for not pulling your weight this one day. It might be more of a day to stay out of the limelight and do some background work. On the other hand, you might have the kind of job where for safety reasons, you owe it to your co-workers to step out at some point; say operating heavy machinery when you’re feeling groggy. Not a good combination.
But maybe you feel the pressure to excel and can’t get out of doing anything less than your very best. Could be you’re on probation at work and can’t call in ill and don’t want to make it appear this is a regular thing. Be self-aware as much as you can than throughout your day. Watch your words, bite your tongue, hold off on major decisions 24 hours so you’re clearer of mind.
Some cold water on your wrists actually gets the blood going and a splash on the face might help too. Some folks bring an alarm to work and head out to the car at noon for 30 minutes of sleep to come back more refreshed. Power naps.
Whatever you decide on, remember this day. When you find a fellow employee is having a day in the future you’re experiencing now, give them some slack if you can.