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How to Avoid Sleepiness at Work

Three Methods:Getting Enough Good SleepUsing Everyday Healthiness to Stay AlertUsing Tricks to Jolt Yourself When You're Feeling Sleepy

You've felt it: that afternoon slump when you can't keep your eyes open at work. The best way to deal with that type of drowsiness is to ensure you get enough good quality sleep at night, thus preventing the drowsiness in the first place. However, if you still find yourself drowsy, you can make a few lifestyle changes to increase your energy overall, as well as use a few tricks to up your alertness when drowsiness does hit you.

Method 1
Getting Enough Good Sleep

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    Slow down on caffeine. Caffeine is great to wake you up in the morning. However, it can also keep you up at night. Stop drinking caffeine within 4 to 6 hours of going to bed to reduce the chance of it keeping you awake at night.[1]
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    Skip the cigarettes. Nicotine keeps you awake, so quitting smoking is a must if you want better sleep. Also, your cravings may be keeping you awake or making you more restless at night.[2]
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    Check your pills. Certain medications can keep you awake, such as antidepressants and asthma medications. Ask your doctor if your pills could be keeping you up, and he or she may be able to help rearrange your medications for more restful sleep.[3]
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    Get your exercise in. Studies show that exercisers tend to sleep better. However, the actual act of exercising wakes you up because it releases cortisol into your body, so you should exercise earlier in the day to sleep better.[4]
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    Don't eat a large meal before bed. To help you sleep, don't try to eat a huge amount just before sleeping, as problems such as indigestion can keep you up. Try to eat larger meals at least a couple of hours before going to sleep.[5]
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    Keep a sleep schedule. Your body likes routine. If you go to bed every night at the same time and wake up at the same time everyday, your body knows when it needs to get sleepy and when it needs to be awake. Stick to your schedule even on weekends, and you'll have more restful nights.[6]
    • One way to keep yourself on schedule is to set an alarm or reminder to tell you to go to bed. That way, you won't stay up past your bedtime without noticing.[7]
    • If you're having trouble getting enough sleep, try going to bed a little earlier every night until you're getting the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep.[8]
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    Turn off the light. When you go to sleep, you need to keep out all light from your bedroom, including any sunlight or streetlights. Try light-blocking curtains to block out outside light, and cover your bedside clock to block out its light.[9]
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    Shut out noise. Turn off radios and televisions, but also remove items that cause minor noises, such as your laptop computer if it tends to make any kind of noise. If you can't keep out the noise, put in earplugs to drown it out.[10]
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    Kick your pets out. While your kitty might like to curl up at the foot of your bed, a pet's nighttime movements can wake you up. If you find yourself waking up often because of your pets, you may need to shut them out of your bedroom.[11]
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    Wind down before bed. That is, power down your screens about an hour before you go to sleep. The lights of electronic devices keep your brain alert, rather than letting it shut down for the night.[12]
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    Take note of your worries. If you lay awake thinking about who you need to call or what you need to do tomorrow, trying writing a few notes about it before bed, including a plan of action. That way, you can let your mind relax and go to sleep.[13]

Method 2
Using Everyday Healthiness to Stay Alert

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    Drink enough fluid. Dehydration can make you feel tired, so be sure to drink water frequently, especially when your body is telling you it's thirsty.[14],[15]
    • To help you get enough water, remember that coffee, tea, and even fruit juice count as part of your total.[16] To spice up your water, try drinking sparkling water with a slice of orange or lemon in it.
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    Focus your lunch on protein, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates. While it may be tempting to reach for a candy bar after lunch, the sugar in it may be your downfall for the afternoon slump. Instead, try complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, paired with a lean protein such as fish or chicken.[17]
    • Protein is also connected to regulating your body's alertness, so a meal high in protein can help you feel more energized and alert. Protein raises tyrosine levels in your body rather than tryptophan levels, and tyrosine gives you more energy. Eating too many carbohydrates at once does the opposite.[18]
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    Change your position. Try bringing your shoulders up, so your whole body is straighter. Leaning over can make you sleepier.[19]
    • Another option is a position that requires you to balance yourself. For instance, some people use yoga ball chairs to improve their balance, but they can also help keep you awake.[20]
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    Don't stay on one task too long. Staying on one task only for hours at a time can lead you to brain burn out and sleepiness. Instead, switch tasks if you notice your brain is wearing out. It will help keep you more alert.[21]

Method 3
Using Tricks to Jolt Yourself When You're Feeling Sleepy

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    Drink some caffeine. Caffeine does work to keep you awake by blocking adenosine, a neurotransmitter designed to tell your cells to wind down.[22] However, because caffeine doesn't work as well the more you use it, try to only drink it every once in a while, rather than every day.[23]
    • Start with something lighter on the caffeine, such as green tea. If you need something stronger, black tea and coffee both have more caffeine.[24]
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    Stretch your body. You are limited in your office as to how much stretching you can do, but you can perform a few simple stretches.[25]
    • For instance, pull your hands together behind your back, stretching out the front of your body. Breathe deeply for a few seconds, then let go of your hands. Do it a couple of times in a row.[26]
    • Try stretching out your hips. Turn in your chair until you are facing to the left. Lift your right leg out behind you, stretching it straight. Try to keep the top half of your body sitting up straight. Repeat the stretch a couple of times, and then turn to do it with the other leg.[27]
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    Use scents. That is, try a wax-melting system in your office or use essential oils. Scents such as peppermint, eucalyptus, and lemon can help keep you alert.[28]
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    Get out of your chair. Some offices will let you work at a standing desk, which increases movement and alertness. If that doesn't sound like something you'd want, try moving around when you take breaks. Get up and take a short walk to increase your alertness.[29],[30] You'll do even better if you can step outside for a few minutes in the sun, as it sends signals to your body to wake up.[31]
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    Try an energy-boosting supplement. Most supplements rely on calories, stimulants, or nutrients that affect how your body metabolizes energy. You're getting energy from your power lunch, and caffeine is a stimulant. However, if you still need a boost, you might try a supplement that focuses on boosting your metabolizing, with ingredients such as creatine, CoQ10, B vitamins, and taurine.[32]
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    Try a short cat nap. If you have the space and the time, try taking a short 10 to 20 minute nap over your lunch break. These types of naps can help refresh your brain without causing drowsiness. In fact, it's natural to feel some afternoon drowsiness. At about 7 hours after you wake up in the morning, your body calls for a break, and a short nap can help fulfill that need.[33]

Sources and Citations

  1. http://sleepcenter.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=61
  2. http://sleepcenter.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=61
  3. http://sleepcenter.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=61
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Article Info

Categories: Better Sleeping