How to Stay Awake at Work

Three Parts:Quick Tips For Staying AlertExercising To Stay AwakeOther Strategies

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Whether you partied all night, stayed up with a newborn, or lost sleep while finishing up a project, now you're at work and you're having a difficult time staying awake. You promise yourself that you'll get more sleep, if you can just make it through the day without being discovered by your boss with your eyes closed. Falling asleep on the job can risk your employment, and may signal a larger problem with your sleep habits.

Part 1
Quick Tips For Staying Alert

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    Listen to music. Perk yourself up by listening to music. Music triggers emotional responses in humans, helping us engage many parts of the brain.
    • Listen to music that's energizing to you. If possible, dance or sing along, even if you just bob your head or hum. Music that's irritating or jarring may keep you awake better than music that's familiar. Just do your co-workers a favor and remember to use headphones!
    • Listen quietly instead of loudly. It's a common misconception that blasting music loud will help keep you awake. Actually, turning the music down to a very low level is more effective. It forces you to try to listen closely in order to hear the instruments, lyrics, and percussion. If you're having difficulty discerning the lyrics, then the volume is just right, because this means your mind's working.
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    Get interested! Getting interested can work as a distraction. If you are interested in something, your brain is focusing.You can get interested in your work or something that is happening in your surroundings.
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    Expose yourself to bright light. Preferably, natural daylight. Your body's internal clock (its circadian rhythms) are regulated by your exposure to sunlight. This means you can trick your body into believing it should be awake even when it feels tired.
    • Step outside, even just for a bit. If you can step outside (even on a cloudy day) or look out the window for a full minute, you'll be more alert.
    • Work the artificial lights. Even if you're in an environment where there's artificial light, brighter is better. Wherever you work, see if you can replace the light fixture or add a lamp that will brighten your workspace.
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    Chew ice. If you chew ice, it's almost impossible to fall asleep. The chilling temperature keeps the brain on its toes, even while you are driving late at night, exhausted, and what you really want to do is fall asleep.
    • Chewing anything, even if it's just your pen or pencil, causes your body to think you are about to eat. Your body will prepare for food intake by releasing insulin, which will make you more alert.
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    Splash cold water on your face. If it's a little cold, take off your sweater or jacket so you stay on the chilly side. Open a window or put on a small fan, pointed at your face.
    • The reason your body responds the way it does to cold is that it's prepping itself to work to keep you warm. Your body needs to regulate your internal temperature to keep all of its organs functioning. So if it detects ice or extreme cold, it will work to keep itself awake longer.
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    Use your sense of smell. A pungent scent — good or bad — can make you more alert very quickly. Aromatherapists often recommend essential oils of the following plants to stimulate the nervous system and reduce fatigue. Open the bottle and take a big whiff of the following when you're feeling drowsy:
    • Rosemary
    • Eucalyptus blue gum
    • Peppermint
    • Coffee; beans or brewed, both work: a study has shown that simply smelling coffee can awaken a person.[1]
    • Of course, not all of us have essential oils stored in our file cabinets. Using hand lotions or burning candles with these same scents could help. Herbs like rosemary and peppermint can often be found fresh or dried at a grocery store; for a little pick-me-up, take a pinch and roll it between your fingertips and smell it.
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    Eat healthy. Eating can help you stay awake, as long as you avoid a full stomach. As most of us know, eating to excess often makes us sleepy, so don't eat a full pizza or that 12 oz. steak during lunch.
    • Munch on snacks all day rather than having a big meal. The key is to not get a spike of sugar intake (followed by the inevitable crash). Predictably, the same goes for caffeine: break your coffee, soda, or energy drink consumption down into small doses.
    • Avoid breakfast that are high in carbs (muffins, toast, pastries, bagels, etc.). You're giving your body a reason to crash at about 11 AM because it gets a sugar spike early on.
    • Put a small handful of sunflower seeds in your cheek and crack them open one at a time, using only your teeth and tongue; this will require just enough active thought and tongue movement to prevent you from dozing off, and the salt of the sunflower seeds is invigorating and stimulating; spit out the sunflower husks into a paper cup as you go, as quietly as possible so as to not disturb others around you.
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    Play a game. The internet is full of interesting websites where you can choose from a variety of games to play online. Pick a word game, or a puzzle, a car racing game or anything that suits your liking. Spending just about 15-20 minutes playing a game will awaken your mind because it is not taxing or boring in any way. It's more fun if you pick a game you're good at.

Part 2
Exercising To Stay Awake

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    Try stretching. Stretching and twisting your body can help improve blood circulation, which helps keep you awake. Rolling your head/neck for about 20 seconds can help as well.
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    Use acupressure. Massaging any of the following points will improve circulation and ease fatigue[2]:
    • The top of your head. Lightly tap it with your fingertip or use a scalp massager.
    • The back of your neck.
    • Back of your hands. Right between the thumb and index finger is best.
    • Just below the knees.
    • Earlobes.
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    Exercise in the office. Just because you're sitting down doesn't mean you can't use your muscles. So exercise at your computer, or get up every once in a while and stimulate some blood flow to keep you alert.
    • Try simple exercises like jumping jacks, push-ups, crunches, and squats. Don't push yourself like you do in the gym; instead, just exercise enough to get your blood flowing and keep your coworkers from noticing your strange behavior!
    • Stay on your feet as much as possible. If you're sitting most of the time, get yourself up every 20-30 minutes. If you need any motivation to stand more of the time, consider this: people who stay seated for less than three hours a day add almost two years to their life expectancy.[3]
    • If you have to sit down, get the most uncomfortable chair you can find. Try not to sit in anything that will make you sore if you stay there. Make sure the back is upright, forcing you to sit up very straight. Don't allow your head to rest on anything — your hands, the desk, the wall.
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    Take a short walk. Some people take a short walk to re-energize themselves. It's generally thought to be a good distraction, especially if you're sitting in front of a computer screen all day long.
    • Any paperwork that may be pending which you have to carry to your colleagues or a manager (like signing a cheque or documents), keep aside. When you feel sleepy, take it to the person for signing (or any other action). Upon returning to your desk, you'll feel more awake again and you'll have been active.
    • Studies show that taking short breaks from work actually helps your productivity.[4] So if you're worried about missing that deadline, don't stress! Walking breaks will help you. (You can let your boss know.)

Part 3
Other Strategies

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    Take a power nap. If you have the time, sleeping for just 15-20 minutes can increase your alertness by leaps and bounds if you have a cup of coffee (or any other form of caffeine) right before you fall asleep. The caffeine will take about 20 minutes to begin working, so you shouldn't have any trouble falling asleep right away, and you'll wake up refreshed.
    • Sleeping just 20 minutes helps activate the right hemisphere of the brain[5], which is responsible for processing and storing acquired information.
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    Have a regular bedtime and a healthy diet. Brains benefit greatly from schedules. If you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even the weekends, your brain know when it's time to sleep and fall into a pattern. Getting proper nutrition will also ensure that your body has the proper energy throughout the day without having to resort to naps for extra strength.
    • How much should you sleep to ensure that you're properly rested? Adults need anywhere from 7-9 hours of sleep per night.[6] If you are pregnant or older, you may need even more sleep, anywhere from 10-11 hours.
    • Some recommend[7] going to sleep with your curtains halfway open. The early morning sunlight will send signals to your body to slow production of melatonin and start production of adrenaline, making it easier to wake up.
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    Focus your mental powers. It sounds hard, but don't let your mind go into the "fuzzy stage." When your mind starts to go blank, think about something, whether it's a joke, a movie, or anything else to keep your mind working. Even thinking about something that makes you mad can be extremely helpful. Unless they're drinking, you typically don't see an angry person abruptly fall asleep.
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    Call someone. Make a call to a friend or a cousin or anyone who makes you laugh. A light conversation will definitely refresh your mind and you will be ready to start working before you know. Take a stroll while talking on the phone. It will keep you active. People tend to converse more animatedly when they walk and talk.


  • Stay hydrated. Being dehydrated can make you sleepy or dizzy and drinking cold water can help wake you up.
  • You can drink cold water or take a cold shower.
  • Don't drink too many caffeinated drinks. They will only give you a small burst of awareness, but after a few hours it will wear off. You will be left feeling ten times more tired.
  • Realize that you may not be as tired as you think you are. Often times you'll find that throughout the day, you are fantasizing about going to sleep as soon as you get home. Does this actually happen? For many of us, when we're off work and enjoying the rest of the day we are always wide awake even without sleep. Notice this psychological contribution that your mind is making.
  • Distract yourself, instead of focusing on how tired you are, intensify your focus on your work or focus on something entirely different.
  • Run cold water on your wrists.
  • Take a nap before driving anywhere if you are sleepy or tired.
  • Go to bed early. More time asleep in bed equals less chances of falling asleep at work.
  • What you can do to stay awake is you can eat a little of sugar or salt
  • Always give your face a little hit once in a while it will alert your body to stay awake and you can never sleep with pain.

+ Plan your day what to do when to do it and you'll be okay plan extra naps

  • Think of something that you'd like to know or learn more about. For example, you could look at tutorials on how to make or do something, think of a random thing you've been thinking about but hasn't been a high enough priority for you to make the time for it above everything else, think of a certain topic that you'd like to draw upon.

Pick your topic and to as much research as you can fit into your schedule. When you can, become totally engrossed in your chosen subject. When you feel you have a substantial amount of information, write an essay. This will also help you memorize a lot of what you have learnt.

  • Wake up your face. Snap or pinch your cheeks. Gently slap all around you face. Shake out your arms legs. Get your body more awake. It keeps your mind awake if you start to feel tired.


  • No matter how awake you think you are, if you're feeling sleepy while driving, pull over and take a 20 minute nap.
  • Many of the things that you do to stay awake also interfere with concentrating. What you'll really need, ultimately, is good sleep in order to perform optimally.
  • Limit caffeine intake to 300 mg or less a day (about 4-8 cups of tea) to avoid counterproductive side effects.
  • Some people may be allergic to essential oils and the smells they produce. Be considerate to your coworkers and make sure they are OK with you having smells emanating from your cubicle/office.
  • Have always 8 hours a sleep during the night. The best time to sleep is from 10pm to 6am.

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