If you’re facing down a hectic schedule, yet you’re struggling to stay awake in the middle of the workday due to tiredness, boredom, lack of sleep or energy, then you’re not alone. Feeling sleepy at work is common, but it can seriously affect your productivity especially if you’re chasing a critical deadline. Not only can it be embarrassing to be caught sleeping in the middle of an important meeting, but for some industries, sleeping on the job can even be downright dangerous.
The obvious choice is to load up on caffeine, but if you are not keen on having too many cups of coffee and are looking for an alternative solution, then follow this guide to help you stay alert and focused whenever you’re struggling to keep your eyes open.
1. Power-up With Healthy Snacks
One common cause of feeling sluggish at work is low energy levels. A quick fix is grabbing yourself a snack to give you a burst of energy.
It’s tempting to eat any snack you can find, but eating something with lots of sugar like junk food or sugar-sweetened beverages will only be a temporary solution. They can even cause you to crash and feel sleepier when the energy spike settles down.
Instead, pack some healthy snacks like some roasted nuts, honey flavoured granola or whole-grain crisps too much on. Or if your workplace has healthy vending machines, make sure to take advantage of them! These healthy snacks help keep your blood sugar steady all day long.
If you have a long afternoon ahead, avoid a heavy lunch. Making it a habit to snack every two to three hours can prevent you from overindulging during your midday meal.
According to the dietetic department of the Medical University of South Carolina in the US, overeating is one of the most common causes of induced sleepiness. This is because after eating excessive meals, your body routes more blood to your digestive system which causes a temporary deprivation of blood and nutrients in your brain – thus, resulting in residual grogginess.
2. Play Upbeat Music
If you need energy and emotional boost, play some upbeat music to stay awake at work. Studies have shown that listening to music activates your brain to release dopamine – a “feel-good” neurotransmitter that can biologically cause emotions such as happiness, excitement, and joy. This gives you a natural high to keep the sleepy feelings away.
Put on your headphones and play your favorite pop, hip-hop or dance tunes to get you energized. A Beyoncé or a Shakira dance playlist will surely keep you alert and singing along, but if you need something stronger, timeless Eminem tunes should do the trick.
3. Keep Your Workspace Clean and Organized
Another factor that can be causing your feelings of tiredness and fatigue is the clutter on your desk space. Scientific research has proven that mess does indeed cause stress. A chaotic desk environment can cause you to feel more anxious and frustrated as it signals that there is more to do.
If you’re feeling drained, take a few minutes to arrange your desk by eliminating the clutter. Make sure you organize all your files, and there are no random supplies that are lying around.
Throw out that half-eaten candy bar or those 5-year old sticky notes. The activity will not only get your desk cleaned up, but it will also help you focus on a different action that keeps your brain and body active.
Once your desk is tidy, this will help you feel more motivated to start your work again.
4. Move Around the Office
If you’re seconds away from snoozing in front of your laptop, get up and get moving. With an adjustable desk, you can switch to a standing position. If you don’t have one, you can take a walk around the office to wake up your sleeping legs. A change of ambiance will help you break the monotony to stay awake at work.
If you need to speak to a colleague, skip using the office phone and walk over to have a face to face conversation. And if you have to make an urgent call, try going to the office terrace or rooftop to get some fresh air in the process.
If moving around is not a possibility, do some simple stretch exercises to keep your blood flowing.
5. Splash Cold Water on Your Face
A splash of frigid water on your face can give you an adrenaline jolt. This startling sensation is a handy way to wake you up. This is also a quick and easy fix that can also leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated.
Avoid lukewarm water though, as this may relax you more and make you sleepier.
6. Chew Gum
What if you’re in an incredibly dull meeting and the low lighting plus the glare of the projector is making you want to snooze off? Getting up to get a snack or suddenly doing an arm stretch may not always be the most professional thing to do.
In this case, one great suggestion is to chew gum discreetly.
A British study has found that chewing gum can combat daytime sleepiness. Chewing gum has also been found to stimulate facial muscles which help increase blood flow to the head.
7. Breathe in Energizing Scents
Another great technique is breathing in energizing scents. These are usually sharp and robust scents such as peppermint to boost energy, eucalyptus to increase oxygen, and cedarwood to activate your mind.
Other scents include lemon, citrus, menthol, and rosemary. Smelling these can help wake up your senses to feel more alert.
Rub essential oils on your wrist and temples to stay awake at work, or keep a small vial of perfume and spray whenever you’re feeling low.
For some people, the smell of brewing coffee is an instant stimulant signaling their brain to wake up. If you’re one of these people, brew a cup of coffee without necessarily drinking it as this might be what you need to power through the day.
Staying Snooze Free
Staying awake at work can be a real challenge, however, applying these simple suggestions can help in keeping you more engaged and focused.
For a long-term fix, practicing good sleeping habits, a healthy diet, and regular exercise are still the best solutions to keep your energy levels balanced throughout the workday.