How to Stay Awake Without Caffeine

Four Methods:Changing Your EnvironmentConsuming Energy-Boosting FoodsBoosting Your Physical EnergyStimulating Your Mental Energy

Staying awake when you are tired can be very difficult. Whether you are trying to work, get through a day after a sleepless night, or recovering from travel, it is possible to help yourself feel awake, alert, and energetic without having to resort to using caffeine or other medications. Getting a good night’s sleep every night is the best long-term solution to chronic fatigue, but there are also many other methods to keep yourself awake and alert.

Method 1
Changing Your Environment

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    Get outside. Walk outside in the fresh air and sunlight. While any change in environment is likely to help sleepiness, physically moving outdoors will usually be the best choice. If you are able, move your work outside for a little while. [1]
    • If you cannot go outside, try opening a window for fresh air, or at least sitting near a window with curtains or blinds drawn back to let in natural sunlight.
    • Even if it is dark out, going outside is more likely to wake you up than staying indoors. The combination of fresh air, exercise, and changing the environment are all signals to your brain to wake up.
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    Turn on the lights. Though natural light is the best, any increase in light can be a shot to your senses and give you a “wake up” surge. Bright light signals to the brain to awaken. [2] If you are unable to access natural light, blue light that is present in LED screens has also showed benefits to wakefulness. [3]
    • Many people find florescent lights draining, especially low-quality or "industrial" type of lighting. It is still better than no light, or dim light, but other lighting types (LED, incandescent, halogen) may be better.
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    Take a break from screen time. Although the light in screens can keep you awake, your TV or computer can lead to both visual and mental fatigue. In addition, these electronic devices are typically done while sitting for long periods. This in turn leads to a groggy, logy, restless feeling.
    • Try stretching your vision by looking at things close up and then far away, alternating very quickly. [4]
    • Also try looking at far-away objects, whether it is gazing at the city skyline, seeing if there is snow on the mountains, or checking for boats on the ocean.
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    Turn up the music. Pumping up the volume on your favorite jams and singing along will help you feel more awake. You may need to use headphones if you are in an office setting or if there are other people around. [5]
    • Be sure to select songs that are upbeat and peppy.
    • Get a bonus energy surge by dancing along with the music.
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    Turn the temperature down. Colder rooms are more likely to make you feel alert. Working in an environment that is hot and stuffy can make you feel like you need to nap. Turn down the thermostat and open a window if it is cool outside. If it is a hot day, try turning on a fan and the air conditioning if applicable. [6]

Method 2
Consuming Energy-Boosting Foods

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    Drink water. Staying naturally hydrated with water will help you feel more alert. The act of drinking water interrupts other work, which gives you a “mini break,” and hydration helps your body function smoothly, which helps you feel awake. [7]
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    Increase your protein and healthy fat consumption. Foods that are high in protein[8] and healthy fats[9] provide sustained energy that releases slowly into your body.
    • These foods do not lead to a blood sugar or energy “crash” like sugary or caffeinated food and drink.
    • These foods also help make you feel full longer, which may help you avoid snacking on sugary foods.
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    Avoid sugar. Sugar, like caffeine, often leads to highs and lows in energy. Consuming sugar can lead to a “sugar buzz” with temporarily increased energy followed by a crash, where the sugar has worn off and you are left feeling exhausted. [10]
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    Eat breakfast. While this may not help an immediate need for energy, if you have a chronic problem with feeling tired, a healthy breakfast every morning will help you feel more energetic. It gets your metabolism functioning smoothly and kickstarts your energy for the day. [11]
    • Choose healthy foods which give long-lasting energy, such as yogurt, eggs, protein smoothies, a bowl of high-fiber cereal, fruit salad, oatmeal, and so on.
    • Avoid high-sugar foods, such as sugary cereals and pastries. These will give you a crash later.
    • Be careful of insubstantial meals. There is nothing wrong with eating a slice of melon or a breakfast smoothie. However, if you find at 10:30 you are overwhelmed by fatigue, that is a signal that either you need a more hearty breakfast, or a healthy snack at this time.

Method 3
Boosting Your Physical Energy

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    Move around. If you are sitting down and working, try to stand up every 5-10 minutes. Do a few jumping jacks or a dance to your favorite song if you need a burst of energy to jump-start your productivity. Going for a short walk down the hall (or, better yet, outside) also helps. [12]
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    Go to the gym. If you consistently feel sleepy in the middle of the day or just after lunch, try getting in a midday workout. Exercise, though it expends energy, also boosts energy.[13]
    • Hit the gym during your lunch hour.
    • Go for a brisk walk outside.
    • Walk around the building. Walk some flights of stairs to the fourth-floor office and back. Take some laps around the field house at your high school. Pop by your boss's office instead of sending a message.
    • Find an office workout routine if you cannot leave work to exercise. This may include push-ups, chair sits, lunges, and sit-ups. Just remember to close the blinds to your office window!
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    Do yoga or other stretching. Yoga, while calming, is also rejuvenating. Doing a few yoga poses that promote energy when you feel tired can give your body an energy boost. Here are a few poses to try: [14]
    • Camel pose: while on your knees, arch your back so that your heart and your chest are open forward. With your feet flexed and your toes grounded, reach back and hold your ankles with your hands, and let your head fall back to stretch your neck.
    • Warrior Two: do a deep lunge, with the forward knee straight above the ankle and the foot facing the wall in front of you. The back leg should be extended with the leg straight and the foot sideways, perpendicular to the forward foot. Extend both arms out in the directions of your legs and look forward, over your extended arm and forward foot. Be sure to alternate sides.
    • Chair pose: stand with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Then sink down into a squat, as though you were going to sit in a chair. Be sure to keep your back completely flat. Raise both arms up over your head, shoulder-width apart, palms facing each other but not touching and fingers spread. Hold for several seconds, then stand up. Rest and repeat several times.
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    Take a power nap, if allowed. Ward off extreme fatigue by taking a short nap. Evaluate whether this option is appropriate for you based on where you are. This is obviously not an option if you are driving, and it may not be an option if you are at work. [15]
    • The nurse's office at school sometimes encourages a lie-down, with the advantage that you have someone to nudge you awake before your next period.
    • Try to sleep for at least 20 minutes.
    • Try other methods of staying awake to rouse yourself fully after you wake from your nap so you don’t feel even more sleepy.
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    Take a shower. Taking a shower is sometimes even better than taking a nap. It can refresh you and make you feel like you are ready for more work. [16]
    • A cold shower may be necessary if you are extremely tired. [17]
    • The temperature changes from taking a warm shower then stepping out into cool air can also help you wake up.

Method 4
Stimulating Your Mental Energy

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    Write down notes. If you find yourself feeling tired in a meeting—particularly one that is boring—try taking notes about what people are saying. The active participation of taking notes will help keep you mentally engaged with the ideas, which will keep you more alert.
    • You will remember the information more clearly.
    • It will look like you are paying careful attention.
    • You may find it helpful to look back at your notes later if your mind was wandering during the meeting.
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    Laugh at something comedic. Laughter is the best medicine for many reasons, and staying awake is one of them. Watching a funny video clip or listening to a humorous story and laughing out loud at it will help you be more alert. [18]
    • You can stimulate your thinking by engaging in something funny that interests you.
    • Laughing will offer a break and release from other things you’re doing that may be tedious or unpleasant.
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    Socialize with someone. If you have been working by yourself, engaging in a conversation with another person can help wake up your mind. Engaging in conversation and an exchange of ideas will get your mind working. If you can walk over to the other person, you will get a physical boost as well.
    • Talking fast may also help you feel more energetic. Try upping the tempo of your speech while chatting with someone. [19]
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    Sing! The action of singing coordinates body, mind, and soul. It requires mental energy to recall notes and lyrics, requires your body to breathe deeply and evenly, and is a pleasurable experience. Sing on your own, sing with the car stereo, or make up your own song for a real challenge.
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    Find a happy place. Feeling happy makes people feel more energetic, so making yourself feel happy if you’re stressed or down will give your day a boost.[20]
    • Keep your favorite photos of loved ones or pets nearby at work to give yourself a happy reminder.
    • Take a mental vacation to your favorite getaway, remembering or imagining the details of what it likes to be there.


  • Never operate heavy machinery if you feel tired.
  • Try a variety of methods to find what works best for you.
  • What several people do, and it helps, is to try to stay in a certain posture. Back straight, arms either folded or to the sides(unless you're doing work), head up, and feet properly set on the floor. If you slack off and stay in a comfy position you would fall asleep in no time.
  • If you are so tired that you question your ability to be safe (driving, operating machinery, etc) get to a safe place and nap, or pass your duties to someone who is rested.

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