Staying awake at work can be difficult at times, especially when working late or doing tedious tasks. Feeling tired at work is common, but it could harm productivity and performance.

Many people drink another cup of coffee with lunch to help stay awake at work. This works well for some people, but other things besides coffee could help keep the body energized throughout the day.

Find out what to do, including lifestyle changes, with this article.

How do you stay awake at work?

Here are some tips to help stay awake at work if a person finds themselves feeling tired and sleepy:

1. Have some caffeine

Man asleep at desk in front of laptop and coffee cup.
Having drinks with caffeine may help to provide energy to stay awake at work, although some types of caffeine may cause an energy crash.

Caffeine is a very popular stimulant in coffee that helps the body to stay awake. The issue many people have with coffee is that it seems to cause an energy crash after the effects wear off.

Some people choose to replace coffee with other drinks with less caffeine, such as black or green tea, in these cases.

Tea may have a gentler stimulating effect, which may help reduce the dips and peaks in energy someone experiences throughout the day.

2. Keep a consistent sleep schedule

The need for stimulants like caffeine may be due to a poor sleep schedule or erratic sleep pattern. Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.

This can vary, but getting around the same amount of sleep each night may help the body balance its energy levels.

It may also help to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day. Having a regular schedule may help the body get more rest, which could help the mind stay alert and active throughout the day.

3. Go outside

The circadian rhythms of the body that help regulate the sleep and wakefulness cycles take their cues from the levels of daylight.

It may help to spend some time outside in the daylight each day when trying to reset circadian rhythms to find a balance in the sleep cycle,.

Some people find that the blue early morning light is best, but if this is not possible, simply spending a bit of time outdoors each day may be a helpful start.

4. Have a conversation

An engaging conversation often leaves little room to feel tired, and people who regularly converse with a colleague or friend may be more alert than others.

Choosing conversations over emails whenever possible may also be more engaging and could help improve workplace monotony.

5. Listen to music

Playing music at work or in headphones may also help the brain stay active. The type of music is personal preference, though very calming or relaxing music may simply make a person more tired. In comparisons, choosing something lively could be stimulating instead of sleep-inducing.

6. Try to exercise

It may seem like exercising when already tired is counterintuitive, but physical exercise may help increase the flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. Improving blood flow could have a revitalizing effect on the mind. A few squats or a quick jog around the block may be enough to get the blood flowing.

7. Stay active

If exercise is impossible at work, it may be enough to simply take active breaks throughout the day instead of sitting in the break room. Walking around the building during a break may be enough to keep the blood flowing.

8. Stretch

Some basic stretching at the desk or workstation may help if getting up and moving around is not an option.

Stretching the arms over the head, rolling the neck side to side, or doing some torso twists may be simple ways to loosen up tight muscles and keep blood flowing and the body energized.

9. Stay hydrated

Drinking extra water during the day can help avoid dehydration, which could make it hard to focus and stay alert throughout the day.

Extra water may also increase the need to urinate, which may also help keep the body awake as the person walks to the bathroom.

10. Snack on healthful foods

Various nuts in bowl on wooden table.
Snacking on nuts or trail mix will provide long-lasting energy throughout the day.

The types of food eaten throughout the day may also play a part in staying alert or feeling sluggish.

Healthful snacks may use less energy to digest or help keep blood sugar more balanced than eating junk food or sugar-sweetened beverages.

Snack ideas to keep the body satisfied and energized throughout the day include:

  • nuts or trail mix
  • granola
  • a hard-boiled egg
  • natural yogurt
  • vegetable slices and hummus
  • fresh fruit, such as bananas, grapes, or apples

11. Do deep breathing

It can be difficult to fully inflate the lungs when sitting for long periods of time. Taking time to practice deep breathing each day may increase the amount of oxygen in the body and help reduce fatigue.

Even taking a few slow, deep breaths into the abdomen may be enough for a person to feel temporarily rejuvenated and alert.

12. Take a nap

A quick nap during lunch or before a late work shift may also help reset the brain and keep the body energized throughout the work shift.

For people working in the morning to afternoon, this could be as simple as taking a quick 10 to 20 minute nap in the car.

People working an evening or night shift may want to take a nap before they head to work.

13. Keep the workspace bright

Keeping the workspace brightly-lit may also help keep the mind awake and alert. Adding a brighter light bulb to the desk or opening extra windows to let light in may do the trick.

During night shifts, it may be helpful to turn on extra lights.

14. Keep cool

Splashing very cold water on the face and hands may help wake the body and brain up, as the body must then work to replace the lost heat.

Removing a jacket or other outer clothing that is keeping someone warm or turning the air-conditioning on a little stronger may also cool down the body and keep the mind more alert.

15. Inhale sharp smells

peppermint leaves next to small bottle of essential oil.
Sharp smells, such as peppermint, may help to stimulate the senses and improve alertness.

Sharp or pungent smells may help wake up the senses and make a person feel more alert. Inhaling essential oils may help, including the scents of:

  • eucalyptus
  • peppermint
  • bergamot
  • lemon
  • camphor

The scent of brewing coffee may also be enough to make a person feel alert. Even if no one is planning on drinking it, brewing some extra coffee just to have the scent in the air may help people feel alert.

16. Lifestyle changes

While the mentioned solutions are good in a pinch, the ideal solution may be for a person to make some long-term changes in their lifestyle to avoid symptoms of fatigue and sluggishness.

Lifestyle changes might include having a more healthful diet, exercising more, getting more quality sleep, or any other suggestions that become long-term changes.

17. Avoid stimulants before bed

The stimulating effects of tea, coffee, and chocolate may be great during the day, but they could make it harder to get to sleep or stay asleep. So, it is best to avoid having stimulating or energizing foods and drinks later in the day to allow the body to wind down naturally.

18. Make napping a habit

A small nap during the day may help reset the body and keep it from feeling sleepy. If naps are helpful, try scheduling a nap each day to keep the body in a consistent pattern and help regulate sleep habits.

19. Avoid blue light near bedtime

As mentioned, blue light helps the body adjust its circadian rhythms to stay awake. This is good during the day, but getting too much blue light at night may work against the body and mind. It may keep the body and mind awake and alert during a time when a person is trying to rest and recuperate.

Reducing exposure to blue light at night involves cutting how much time is spent in front of a computer, television, or smartphone screen. It may also be helpful to avoid bright lamps in the home or have a spare lamp with softer light in the bedroom.

Takeaway

Feeling tired or sluggish at work is common, but it does not have to be permanent. There are some habits to add to the daily routine that could help someone stay awake at work.

Supportive lifestyle changes may be more long-term solutions to help keep fatigue away, as well.