How to Win at Life Even When You Don’t Get 8 Hours of Sleep

A funny thing happens when you don’t get enough sleep: Your mind begins to play cruel jokes on you. It’s suddenly tempting you to eat all the donuts and cookies in sight. You need carbs just to comfort your cold, exhausted soul. You also start to snap at the ones you love, and you fantasize about diving into your bedsheets above all else.

Sleep is Queen. But so is paying the bills. Don’t worry, you can get through the day. Here’s some heart-to-heart advice from some pretty powerful women about winning at life, even when you don’t win at sleep.

Focus on your why

Michelle Lentz, 31, a police officer with the Greenville Police Department in South Carolina, had to work overtime during protests that occurred. At the time, she was still breastfeeding her 7-month-old daughter. “That was also my first experience with having to skip a pumping session because of work, and it was not comfortable, especially while wearing a ballistic vest,” she says.

And despite the fact that she was exhausted and couldn’t even rely on coffee to help her function, she says focusing on the important work she was doing helped keep her going.

“I hope to inspire in my daughter (and future children) that being honest and hardworking are great traits in any profession, whether it’s law enforcement, accounting, or otherwise,” explains Lentz. “I hope that she never feels that she’s incapable of a job because she’s a female, and that I can show her how to be successful at anything she puts her mind to,” she says.

Have no shame about doing what you gotta do to survive

There’s no sugarcoating some realities of living on the night shift. For example, Clair McLafferty, 28, is a Birmingham, Alabama-based bartender at The Marble Ring and author of “The Classic & Craft Cocktail Recipe Book.” She says that her job is “brutal” on her body.

The physical and emotional tolls of dealing with people and their problems — at times when most people are sleeping — isn’t an easy task. McLafferty finds that it takes a lot of work to calm her brain down after a shift.

She tries to connect with loved ones and friends for lunch dates, but has found that when it comes to doing what she has to do to recover and make it through her hectic schedule (she’s also a writer and math tutor), she has no qualms about claiming her alone time.

“Spending significant amounts of time with people can be difficult,” McLafferty explains. “Though I’m a bartender, I’m actually a very extroverted introvert, so a night of nonstop movement and professional social interaction can be draining.”

The day after a shift, she prefers to spend most of her time alone doing activities that don’t require anything above the bare minimum of human interaction. Even though it makes it difficult to maintain relationships, she says it’s important to recognize what you need to do to survive when you’re running on little sleep.