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Running on Empty

Seven things you shouldn’t do when you’re tired.

Your eyes feel heavy, you have no energy, and you constantly yawn. Maybe you stayed up too late watching movies, studying for an exam, or caring for a sick child. The five cups of coffee aren’t doing the trick, and you’re counting down the minutes until bedtime.

Days like this are hopefully few and far between. If they come around more often than you’d like, don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep. Seven to 10 hours a night is needed for your mind and body to function at their best the next day.

On the days you’re feeling especially tired or fatigued, for the safety and wellbeing of you and those around you, avoid these seven actions.

#1: Don’t Drive

This one goes without saying. Getting behind the wheel when you’re feeling drowsy or exhausted is a dangerous idea. Hundreds of thousands of car accidents happen every year because the driver was tired. On long trips, pull over and take a power nap. Or ask another responsible adult to drive in your place. You may not be tired enough to fall asleep, but fatigue can impair judgment and slow reflexes.

#2: Don’t Take a Long Nap

You may be craving a long nap, but hold off if possible. Sleeping for more than 20 or 30 minutes during the day makes it harder to fall asleep at bedtime. This throws off your sleep schedule and means you’ll be tired again the next day. Long naps can also make you groggy when you wake up. An early afternoon nap that lasts 20 minutes is the best way to boost your energy and finish the day strong.

#3: Don’t Go Grocery Shopping

You’re more impulsive and more likely to crave unhealthy foods when you’re tired. This means you’re more likely to make poor food choices and overeat. Studies show that people who skimp on sleep are more likely to be overweight and this is one reason why. Therefore, it’s a good idea to avoid grocery shopping when you’re tired to prevent yourself from filling the grocery cart with junk food.

#4: Don’t Make Important Decisions

Thinking about changing jobs, making a big purchase, or selling the house? Don’t make any important decisions when you’re feeling tired. It’s hard to concentrate and think clearly, so it’s tough to weigh pros and cons when you feel weak and irritable. Get a good night’s rest and reevaluate in the morning.

#5: Don’t Comment on Social Media

The less sleep you get, the poorer your judgment and the more impulsive you become. For this reason, it’s best to stay off of social media or you may post something you will soon regret.

#6: Don’t Undergo an Intense Workout

On a normal day, exercise boosts your energy, but when you’re exhausted, exercise may not be a good idea. Doing a challenging workout when you’re tired, weak, and distracted puts you at risk for injury. Skip the interval training or weight lifting and take a walk or go jogging instead.

#7: Don’t Drink Too Much Caffeine

You normally drink a cup or two of coffee each morning, but on the days when you’re especially tired you may be tempted to drink multiple cups throughout the day. This isn’t a good idea. Once the caffeine wears off, you’ll crash and feel zapped. Drinking too much caffeine close to bedtime may also backfire. When you finally fall into bed you won’t be able to sleep. This sets you up for a vicious cycle of fatigue, caffeine, and a continued inability to sleep. To be safe, don’t drink caffeinated beverages past one in the afternoon.

 

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Allan Alguire

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