How to survive at work?

How to survive at work if you don’t get enough sleep

3 tips on how to make it through the day and not fail.

Melissa Dahl is the author of New York Magazine.

So, you’re not getting enough sleep. You don’t want anything more than to go back to bed, but you have a long day of work ahead of you. How do you get through it?

We talked to sleep researchers to figure out how to do it. And everyone was very, very clear: You just absolutely need seven to eight hours of sleep a night to function like a normal person (of course, there are those who need very little sleep – but trust me, you’re not one of those). Still, they acknowledged that sleepless nights happen, and sometimes they happen to busy people who have things to do the next day as well.

Consider all of the following as a basic template. Maybe not all of the tips apply to your particular situation because you often work at night, or you work from home, or you work very late. But in general, here’s the best way to organize your day to last.

7:00 : Your alarm clock rings. You want to hit reset. Resist your urge. “Oh dear. No way,” says Orf Buxton, professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School. – Don’t insult yourself with that.” The thought seems terrific at this particular moment, but those extra bits of sleep when you snooze for seven minutes at a time don’t revitalize your body or boost your alertness at all. It is better to set the alarm at the very last moment – when you have to get out of bed and get ready in a hurry – to get at least some sleep.

7:30: Eat breakfast. Studies show that when we eat within an hour of waking up, it boosts our mood and our level of thought activity to start the day. As with the snooze button, some willpower will have to be applied here: sleepy people tend to pounce on carbs and sugar. But if you’re undernourished, that would be a mistake, Buxton says. “Anything that causes blood sugar and insulin levels to go up, then causes a drop, so you’ll be even more sleepy later,” he explains. Eat something protein, whole grains, you can have some fruit. “Fat and sweets will help, but only for 20 minutes. It’s exactly the same as the snooze button.”

One more thing : Consume some caffeine. Experts recommend consuming no more than 400 mg of caffeine a day. (For reference, one 200 ml cup of coffee has about 100 mg of caffeine.) Don’t pounce on it right away. You will feel very lethargic and sleepy right after waking up, but 20-30 minutes later the fog will clear a bit. “After this phase there will be a period of wakefulness,” Buxton says. – And at that point, coffee will be superfluous. That cup of coffee is much more helpful in the middle of the day.”

8.00 : Get outside. Lots of bright light, especially natural light, will help cheer you up, explains Sean Drummond, a psychiatrist in the Sleep and Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of California, San Diego. “It’s very important early in the morning. It will raise your alertness, your body temperature, reset your circadian biorhythm.” And don’t wear sunglasses. If you do, you won’t get as much of a cognitive bonus, Drummond says.

And another bonus will come from a morning jog, recommends Lauren Hale, a sleep researcher at Stony Brook University. “The data vary, but there is a theoretical case for getting some exercise early in the morning, and the best thing to do is jog down the street.” If that’s difficult, too, at least walk to the subway.

9.00 : Do the hardest part first. You’ll start to procrastinate, you’ll want to do chores instead of creative tasks, you’ll tell yourself that you’ll get to the hardest mental stuff when you wake up a little. Again, resist that urge. “It’s the road to despair,” Buxton says. Because morning is the time of greatest vigor. Take advantage of it because it’s a very narrow window of opportunity for your sleep-deprived brain: it opens an hour after you wake up and closes two hours later. “So first things first, deal with the critical stuff,” Buxton says. – Think differently: I’m almost out of gas, and I need to spend it on the essentials.”

10.00 : Have another cup of coffee. Keep in mind: the increase in attention and alertness that caffeine gives you can only happen half an hour after consuming it. So if you sip coffee on the way to the morning meeting, it may be too late.

11.00 : It’s best to lay low today if possible. It’s a set-up not strongly tied to the time of day. But if you’re feeling downright heavy, consider rescheduling meetings and phone calls. “Sometimes positive interactions with other people are joyful and invigorating,” Buxton says. – But the problem with these interactions is often the person who hasn’t gotten enough sleep. Studies have shown that sleep-deprived people have a harder time reading the body language of others, they’re more somber and grouchy, and they’re not very active in team interactions. So if you feel like you’re “floating,” it’s best to avoid other people and don’t ask for trouble. It’s better to communicate with others when you’re really in shape.

Noon : Eat a light lunch. Again, stay away from simple carbs and sugar. Only healthy foods: whole grains, vegetables, proteins. You’ll feel sleepy in the afternoon anyway, but a lunch heavy on your stomach will only make matters worse.

1 p.m. : Have another coffee. Or tea or something else with caffeine. Even when you’ve had a good night’s sleep, 6 to 8 hours after waking up is the most sleepy time of the day. But stop taking caffeine before 3 p.m.: some of its effects remain in the body for up to seven hours, and you still need a good night’s sleep for tomorrow.

2 p.m. : A nap is ideal. This kind of advice always seems a little absurd – try to find time for that. But if you do manage to do so – by locking the office door, for example, or getting down to the car if you drive it to work – the rest of the day will go better. “Even a 20-minute nap has a restorative effect for several hours,” Buxton says.

Another, also a good scenario: go outside. “If you’re feeling very sleepy and can’t get a nap, go outside for a few minutes,” Drummond advises. Again, no dark glasses.

3 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. : Force yourself into a routine. Remember all those things you’ve been meaning to do for a long time, but have been putting off forever? Answering emails, organizing mail and all that? Do it now. Such tasks don’t require much concentration, and by the second half of the day you’ll have almost none left. A very sleepy person can’t concentrate on something for more than ten minutes at a time, Drummond says. And then, when you’re done with that, too, try to get out of work a little early. Refer to sleep researchers.

Interesting article? Sign up for our newsletter to get a weekly newsletter in the mail with announcements of the best stuff from Ideonomics and other media and blogs.

Interested in an article? Subscribe to our Telegram channel to get more informative content and fresh ideas.

September 25, 2014 New York Magazine

Is your work environment toxic? 3 tips to help you survive in an unpleasant environment

There are times when an unhealthy atmosphere develops at work. Psychologists call such an environment “toxic.” Unfortunately, we sometimes have to work next to unpleasant people who promote quarrels and scandals, engaged in gossip and intrigue. Such an atmosphere in the workplace is extremely harmful. Your career suffers, you lose interest in your favorite business, and sometimes begins and problems with health.

How to survive among toxic people? We will introduce you to some expert advice.

What are the dangers of a toxic environment

Working with toxic colleagues is very difficult. Sometimes it is enough the presence of several unpleasant people to create an unhealthy environment in the team. Scientists have found that constant aggression from colleagues significantly increases the risk of mental and physical illness. There have been cases when after unfair criticism of the boss a person ended up in the hospital with a heart attack.

Toxic situation in the team leads to the fact that you may lose interest in your favorite business. This will have a negative effect on your career. One morning you notice that you do not want to go to work, in spite of the fact that you have always loved your job. You just can’t stand an unpleasant environment anymore.

Periodically you will have the desire to take revenge on unpleasant colleagues. And this is a rather alarming signal. After giving in to anger, you thereby assimilate these people. Psychologists have found that a toxic person spreads around negative emotions as a contagion. Remember that the desire for revenge is a destructive feeling. You yourself will not notice how soon you will become one of the toxic people.

So how to survive in an unhealthy environment at work, avoiding open conflicts if possible? Listen to the advice of experts, which we will tell you about below.


Psychologists’ advice about communicating with unpleasant colleagues is quite simple: avoid them. Move your desk away from toxic people, do not engage in conversations and bickering with them. If possible, work in another room or in public places.

If this is not possible, try to team up with other people. Most likely, the unhealthy environment affects not only you but also other colleagues. Look for their moral support, because together you will be much easier to cope. If you take turns dealing with toxic people, each of you will have more time to work.

Toxic person may be your boss. This is the most difficult case. After all, avoiding contact with your boss is not always possible. If your unpleasant boss has an administrative assistant, then try to establish a good relationship with this person. He will warn you about the boss’s mood. You will know in advance when the boss is “out of sorts” and avoid contact with him at such times.


It’s not always possible to avoid dealing with unpleasant people at work. If avoidance tactics do not bring positive results, then knowledge from the field of psychology comes to your aid.

In cognitive-behavioral therapy, there is a concept – reevaluation. This means that you can interpret the situation differently. You cannot change a toxic work environment, but you can change your attitude.

Treat your unpleasant coworkers not as unbearable people, but as cranky children. They’re the ones with the bad mood or problems, not you. Try to depersonalize the stress they are trying to cause you. This judicious approach is very helpful in surviving in a toxic community.

Of course, it will be very difficult for you to avoid confronting unpleasant people. It is possible that they will try to make scandals and yell at you. Try at such times to pause the conversation. When your toxic interlocutor shuts up, talk calmly at a somewhat slower pace. The more annoyed your colleague is, the more unperturbed you should be. Don’t give in to feelings of resentment and take insults with detachment. Consider that the rude words have nothing to do with you.

Should I fight back?

What should you do if the insults are serious and the level of aggression from toxic coworkers is off the charts? Is it necessary to fight back in such cases? The majority of psychologists believe that this should not be done.

Of course, it is possible to engage in conflict and respond to hurtful words with an insult. But more often than not, it does not lead to the desired result. Psychologists say that in 70% of cases, toxic people do not stop even after they receive an open rebuff.

Suppose that you did decide to fight back an unpleasant man. Before you do this you must assess and take into account the following:

  1. The balance of power. Think about whether you have enough power to come out a winner of the conflict. Be sure to assess your capabilities in advance if it comes to fighting a toxic boss.
  2. Documentation of events. During a toxic person’s verbal aggression, discreetly turn on your tape recorder. If you are being insulted in emails, save that correspondence. Your accusations against unpleasant coworkers must be supported by evidence.
  3. Having allies. It will be very difficult for you to fight a toxic coworker alone. Therefore, try to find supporters. Only by working together will you be able to stop unpleasant people.

You can go to your supervisor or Human Resources to resolve the problem. But in doing so, you must have evidence that supports the unfair insults. There is no need to be shy about complaining. After all, an unhealthy situation is not only unpleasant for you personally. Toxic environment negatively affects the effectiveness and efficiency of the entire team.


To survive among toxic colleagues, you can use any of the above tips from psychologists. What line of behavior in such a situation is optimal? Experts believe that reassessment helps in most cases. After all, you can not always avoid communication with unpleasant employees or the boss. You should resort to an open rebuff only in the most extreme cases. But you can always change your attitude to the situation at work. This will help you to maintain your mental and physical health.

( No ratings yet )
Like this post? Please share to your friends:
Leave a Reply