by Matt Alderton | December 20, 2018
If you're one of the millions of Americans who covets better work/life balance, it's time to face the facts: Because you live in a culture that values hard work and long hours, there are going to be some late nights at the office. There's just no way around it.

"While chronic sleep deprivation can have negative health consequences, sometimes a late night is just part of the deal," author Jess Cording writes in an article for

While you can't always avoid working late, Cording admits, you can nevertheless improve your sense of balance by making it easier for yourself to recover the next day.

If coffee is your go-to after a late night, for example, be careful how much you consume. "Overdoing it on caffeine can actually make things worse," Cording says. "In the short term, because of its diuretic effect, caffeine can lead to mild dehydration and related fatigue and brain fog. Then there's the wonderful world of jitters and (ahem) GI discomfort messing with your workday. In the longer term, if that vat of emergency coffee becomes a regular thing, you're looking at a disrupted sleep cycle, making it hard for you to find a stable balance without it."

Instead of coffee, try water. "Tired cells are thirsty cells that have to work extra hard to do their jobs. Have a 16-ounce glass of water with each meal and one between to help you stay hydrated and clear-headed," advises Cording, who says food also is an important recovery tool. "Sleep deprivation messes with our hunger hormones, leptin and ghrelin, making us feel hungrier than usual. A good way to deal is to include protein at each of your meals and snacks. This is also a day you're better off sticking with smaller, more frequent eating occasions (think: every three hours) instead of a few larger meals. This helps keep your blood sugar and energy more stable so you can focus and do all the things you need to do."

If you watch what you eat -- and drink -- those late nights won't pinch quite so hard the next day.

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