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Tips for Making It Through the Workday on Little Sleep

Sleep needs vary, but the average person needs about seven to nine hours a night to function optimally, says the National Sleep Foundation. As a working mother, the idea that you'll get this amount of sleep is laughable. When you get to work, resist the urge to down your fourth cup of coffee and put your head down on the desk -- you truly can get through the day, as hard it might seem.

RELATED: You Don't Snooze, You Lose ... A Lot

Start the Day Right

It's a trying task to get your little one ready for day care and yourself ready for work, but food and coffee can help you get through the day. Orfeu Buxton, a professor in the division of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School, tells Melissa Dahl at NYMag.com that you should eat a combination of whole grains, protein and fruit. The simple carbs that you'll likely crave when you're sleep-deprived will do much more harm than good -- you'll crash in about 20 minutes. When you eat breakfast, sip on a caffeinated beverage, too -- but just a little one, such as a small espresso. Indulge in another cup of coffee at 10 a.m. when the mid-morning slump starts to drag you down. If you're still groggy in the afternoon, have another cup at 1 p.m., but cut yourself off by 3 p.m. to avoid letting caffeine damage any nighttime sleep you might get. Try not to drink more than 400 milligrams a day of caffeine; an 8-ounce cup has about 100 milligrams.

Arrange Your Day Optimally

When you can't focus because of sleep deprivation, completing busy work sounds most appealing because it doesn't use brain power. If you can reschedule some tasks or meetings until the next day, do so. When it comes to today's must-do list, get the toughest tasks done first -- you'll be most alert when you first get to work, even if it doesn't seem like it. Then, in the afternoon, when you'll be even more tired than you are right now, you can work on the least-demanding projects or busy work.

Squeeze in a Nap

Your baby gets nap time at day care, so you should follow suit. If you have time and a proper location -- such as a office with a door or in your car -- squeeze in a 20-minute power nap. Buxton tells Dahl at NYMag.com that the restorative power of this short nap can last for hours. Even if you have the time, keep your naps to less than 25 minutes, suggests Michael Breus, WebMD sleep blogger. Any more than that can make you even more tired. If napping simply isn't possible, try to get outside for a few minutes. Leave the sunglasses behind because the natural night in your eyes will help perk you up.

RELATED: Why Parental Sleep Deprivation is a Serious Problem

Look the Part

As the saying goes, fake it until you make it. Your makeup helps you look peppy, even if you're dragging. Los Angeles-based beauty expert Christina Marrale recommends using a blue-tinted mascara to brighten the whites of the eyes, as well as applying a bit of illuminator around the orbital bone, inside the eye and on the cupid's brow. Finally, "Spritz a hydrating facial spray," she says. "This will reactivate makeup you've already applied and create a healthy, fresh glow."

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