10 Tips for When You Can’t Sleep Before a Job Interview

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Ah yes, that moment when you can’t sleep before a job interview. 

You toss and turn as the clock ticks, hoping to wring out a few more hours of sleep before a busy day. Sound familiar? 

You are not alone! Nearly a third (27%) of Americans consistently struggle with sleep. 

When you’re worried about an upcoming job interview, you’ll likely spend more time dreaming about it instead of getting good restorative sleep that refreshes your body and mind for an outstanding interview performance the next day. 

Of course, you want to give the impression of a confident, relaxed, and intelligent potential employee. But the excitement and nervousness can turn into a whirlwind of emotions, leaving you desperate for shut-eye. 

Or do you want to appear tired when you only have 7 seconds to impress the interview panel? Certainly not!

The answer is to be proactive with your sleep. You’ll get through your interview — and likely perform much better. 

With that, I’ve put together a list of 10 tips for how to get sleep before an interview. How about we start with the primary reasons most candidates can’t sleep before a job interview?

Why it’s Hard to Get a Good Night’s Sleep Before an Interview

Nervousness

Anxiety has to be among the most prominent reasons people can’t sleep before a job interview. 

Sure, it’s natural to feel a little nervous about someone else evaluating your skills and personality face to face. And if you’re not feeling confident about your chances of success, that’s enough to keep you awake for the better part of the night.

Stress

Even if you have a compelling resume and experience that matches the job description, there’s still plenty of room for stress. 

Perhaps you feel pressured for a new job because your finances are tight or previous interviews haven’t worked out well.  We also can’t rule out health and family problems as potential stressors. 

Whichever your situation, it can be hard to fall asleep with your mind racing with negative possibilities. Fortunately, this post includes practical tips for sleeping when you are stressed. Here are some tips to reduce stress: How to Reduce Stress (15 Ways to do It)

Excitement

Interviews don’t always have to be stressful or worrisome! They can also bring feelings of excitement and anticipation. 

You’re confident you’ve prepared thoroughly. And you imagine how great it will be to land this new opportunity. But while it’s great to look forward to good news, the excitement can mean trouble falling asleep too!

Next, let’s focus on how to sleep well before an interview.

10 Tips for Getting a Good Night of Sleep Before an Interview

If you’re the kind that experiences butterflies in the stomach, sweats, shakes, or has trouble sleeping the night before a job interview, grieve no more. Here are ten tips for when you can’t sleep before an interview:

  • Prepare for the interview much in advance
  • Do some light exercises
  • Eat a light meal 
  • Try meditation or relaxation techniques
  • Avoid coffee and alcohol before bedtime
  • Limit blue light exposure
  • Optimize your sleeping environment
  • Try aromatherapy
  • Take a melatonin supplement
  • Avoid emotional interactions

1. Prepare for the interview in advance

If you wait until the day before an interview to prepare, you risk being restless for a sizable portion of the night.

Instead, start preparing at least one week in advance by researching the company and its culture and the job description itself. It would help if you also practiced potential situational questions. 

Have your resume and other papers ready at least a couple of days beforehand. That way, it won’t feel like you’re scrambling to get everything together the night before the interview

The more prepared you are, the less nervous you will feel as the interview approaches. And the better the slumber. 

2. Do some light exercises

Among the best science-backed tips for sleeping is to exercise—but not right before bed. A light exercise such as yoga or walking in the afternoon or evening is enough to tire out your body, making it easier to doze off. 

There’s a good reason to avoid exercising too close to bedtime. 

Physical exertion can raise your body temperature, increase your heart rate, and stimulate your body to produce adrenaline. Such reactions increase your alertness, significantly impacting the quality of sleep. 

Harvard Health Publishing recommends moderate-intensity exercises at least an hour before bedtime. 

3. Eat a light, healthier meal

A full stomach makes it difficult to get comfortable and fall asleep. So, consider having dinner at least 1 hour before sleep. Stick with easily-digestible foods like lean protein, fruit, and vegetables.

If you must eat late in the night, low-carb late-night snacks are an excellent choice. Your central nervous system needs them to produce serotonin (the feel-good hormone), a chemical said to boost mood and healthy sleeping patterns. 

4. Try meditation and relaxation techniques

It’s easy to let your mind run wild the night before an interview. Try clearing it with meditation or relaxation techniques. 

Options include deep breathing exercises (4-7-8 breathing), a hot bath, muscle relaxation, gentle breathing, or relaxing music. 

Reading a book is a great relaxation option. But you want to avoid a read that’s too captivating, or else you’ll stay wide awake!  

The rule of thumb is to test different relaxation techniques and determine what works best for you. 

5. Don’t drink coffee or alcohol before bedtime

The National Coffee Association (NCA) estimates that 62% of Americans drink coffee per day. The average consumer downs at least 3 cups daily. 

Coffee has unique benefits ranging from reduced risk of heart failure to a healthy liver to improved glucose synthesis (meaning fewer risks of type 2 diabetes).

However, drinking coffee late in the day could mean a sleepless night. The beverage contains caffeine which can stimulate your nervous system for several hours, sabotaging your sleep.

Your best bet? PubMed recommends avoiding a significant amount of coffee at least 6 hours before bedtime.

Alcohol doesn’t just worsen snoring and sleep apnea. It also impacts the production of melatonin, disrupting your sleep cycles. Furthermore, a hangover could heavily affect your impression and performance during an interview. 

Alcohol is also a diuretic—the medical term for substances that stimulate the elimination of water and salts through urine. That means you might need to wake up in the middle of the night to pee.

Can’t do without an afternoon pick-me-up the day before your interview? You’ll be better off with decaf or green tea than coffee or alcohol.

6. Limit exposure to blue light

A National Sleep Foundation research found that 39% of Americans use their phones during bedtime. Roughly 60% of the respondents admitted to watching TV in the bedroom, while 36% used a laptop or computer. 

As tempting as it might be, using electronic devices during bedtime sets you up for insomnia. 

Screen emits blue light, which suppresses the release of melatonin, the hormone that makes your body tired and ready for sleep. The overall outcome is more alertness while you should be winding down. 

Blue light sources include:

  • Smartphones
  • TVs
  • Tablets
  • Computer screens
  • LED and fluorescent bulbs

The solution is to turn off all screens and bright lights about 2 hours before bedtime. If that’s impossible, use blue-light-blocking glasses. Else, install a software program on your computer or phone to filter out blue light after dark.

7. Optimize your sleeping environment

If you can’t sleep before an interview, there’s a possibility your bedroom is uncomfortably cold or hot. A PubMed study found that bedroom temperature impacts sleep quality more than traffic noise.

The optimal sleeping temperature for most people is around 66-70°F (19-21°C). Consider investing in a smart thermostat that will automatically adjust the temperature of your room during bedtime. Try wearing lighter layers to bed if your body overheats at night.

Additional ways to optimize your sleeping environment include:

  • Minimizing sources of light in your bedroom room. You can use blackout curtains or an eye mask.
  • Using earplugs or a white noise machine to counter external noise
  • Turning off loud music before bedtime. Instead, listen to quiet, soothing music or nature sounds.
  • Sleeping on a comfortable mattress and pillows

8. Try aromatherapy

Wondering what to do when you can’t sleep before a job interview? Aromatherapy might help. It entails using essential oils to foster well-being, thanks to their soothing scent and calming properties.

Separate studies show that aromatherapy helps reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality.

For a goodnight’s sleep, dab or spray your choice of essential oil on your pillowcase. Alternatively, you can use an aromatherapy diffuser to disperse the scent throughout your bedroom. 

Another option is to apply the extracts to certain parts of your body, primarily the wrists, temples, forehead, legs, hands, or neck. Adding a few drops of aromatherapy oil to a warm bath should produce similar effects.

The best aromatherapy oils for sleep include:

  • Lavender
  • Bergamot 
  • Cedarwood
  • Chamomile
  • Clary sage 

9. Grab a melatonin supplement

Melatonin is an effective and affordable solution for when you can’t sleep before an interview. It’s also known as the sleeping hormone.  

Melatonin helps you fall asleep faster and extends your overall sleep time. A study found that a prolonged release of melatonin levels up sleep quality and morning alertness in insomnia patients. 

Melatonin supplements are available without a prescription in most drug stores. A 0.5-5 mg (1-2 hours before bedtime) is a safe and effective dosage for young professionals. 

Alternative supplements you can experiment with for relaxation and quality sleep before a job interview include:

  • Magnesium
  • Glycine
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • L-theanine
  • Valerian root

10. Avoid emotional interactions

Last in our list of tips for how to sleep well before an interview is to avoid stressful conversations or debate topics – anything that can get you all riled up the day before an interview. Getting into arguments over finances or other issues can increase stress levels and keep your brain from winding. 

Do you have a loved one who could unwittingly interfere with your sleep? If so, it’s best to tell them ahead of time that you need some space the night before your interview. They’ll probably be more considerate of your need for privacy and quiet.

Summary

You might not eliminate all potential concerns for an interview. At the same time, you aren’t doing yourself any favors by staying up late while your body should be resting. But getting a goodnight’s sleep will refresh your mind and body for the challenge ahead. 

By following the above tips for sleeping, you can rest assured of much-needed rest to put your best foot forward and nail your interview. 

Exercise, take a warm soak in the bath, inhale or apply some lavender oil, or tune in to soothing music. Do whatever it takes to get that extra 60 minutes or more of Zzz’s before your big day. 

All the best in your coming interview!