While getting adequate rest is essential for our health, we all have nights when logging seven to eight hours of shuteye just isn’t possible. Jedidiah Ballard, DO, knows a few things about sleep deprivation. The former U.S. Army Ranger, emergency room physician and educator has had his share of sleepless nights. As a physician and fitness enthusiast, he also knows how to rise to the challenge.

Dr. Ballard, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Augusta (Georgia) University, shares his tips to keep pushing forward when you’re behind on sleep whether you’re a college student, busy parent or just a harried human. Keep in mind that adequate, restorative sleep is essential and these tips are to be used sparingly, not on a daily basis.

Here are Dr. Ballard’s tips to power through when you’re tired.

1. Cold shower

“You don’t need to stay in there forever, just 30 seconds or so. What that’s going to do is a big rushing thing. It’ll spike your hormones a little bit. It honestly works better than a cup of coffee.”

2. Exercise

“You don’t need to really kill it, get a really intense workout like when you’re well-rested, but a short bout of exercise is again going to spike your hormones, get your energy up, get your blood flowing, and that can carry you throughout the day.”

3. Power nap

“If you have the luxury, a power nap—even 10 to 20 minutes—can recharge those batteries.”

4. Proper nutrition

“If you’re eating small, balanced meals throughout the day, some proteins, some fats, some complex carbs, you get a very steady energy surge versus starving yourself while getting too busy to eat, and then packing down a couple of doughnuts, getting a sugar spike and crash. That’s going to absolutely wipe you out.”

5. Mental preparation

“Decide that whatever it is you’re doing, be it school, work, taking care of the kids, whatever, is just more important than sleep that day. Tell yourself you’re going to be fine and power through it. People have done it before you, people are going to be able to do it after.”

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