How to stay awake at work without coffee or caffeine

by Mark Miller May 19, 2016

How to stay awake at work without coffee or caffeine

Careful about falling asleep at work or you could become an Internet meme like this poor fellow.

Unless you work outdoors or indoors in a job where you are physically active all day, it can be difficult for some people who have desk jobs to stay awake at work without caffeine.

Maybe the most important thing you can do to make sure you don’t nod off at work is to get a good night of sleep, at least 7 to 8 hours, at a regular time every night. Boredom can also cause you to nod off. Other than getting a good night’s sleep and having a fascinating job, there are things you can do to stay awake.

If you’re getting off the caffeine or have never used it, you still have many options for staying awake.

Go for a walk

After getting a good night of sleep, perhaps the best thing you can do prevent falling asleep at work is to get up and take a walk or do some other exercise.

A 20-minute walk gets the blood moving and otherwise invigorates and energizes the body and stimulates the nervous system. If you work in a high-rise building, you might consider walking up and down some stairs. And studies indicate low-impact exercise like simple walking is better at fending off drowsiness than high-impact running.

Exercising for 15 or 20 minutes a couple of times a day may also improve sleep at night, leaving you more rested in the morning and throughout the day.

Do stretching exercises

Another tactic to fight fatigue is to do stretching exercises at your desk, which has the double benefit of keeping your body healthier.

“You may feel awkward doing stretching exercises at your desk,” says WebMD, which recommends stretching every hour. “But right now, as you sit there at your computer, you are doing one of the worst things you can do to your body — you’re sitting still. And not only that, but the way you sit — and type, and hold the phone — may be wreaking havoc on your bones, joints, and muscles.”

Listen to upbeat music

Another way to stay awake without caffeine is to listen to upbeat music. If you don’t have a private office, you would probably be better off using earphones or ear buds so you don’t disturb your co-workers. It might be a good idea to avoid New Age-y type music that soothes and lulls.

WikiHow says it’s a misconception that you should blast the music. Keep the volume low so you have to listen carefully to hear all the instruments and vocals.

Exercise your eyes

To prevent eye fatigue, exercise your eyes. Look away from the computer screen and look at a distant point in your office or outside. Also, occasionally move your eyes up and down, side to side and around and around.

Viter Life blog did an entire posting on How Do You Keep Healthy Eyes During Computer Use?That posting stated:

Blink often to moisten your eyes and prevent irritation. Studies have shown that people actually blink about one-third less while working at a computer, so consciously blink more. Also, look away from your computer screen at least every 20 minutes and focus on something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds (20-20-20). This will exercise your eyes and prevent what is called accommodative spasm or locking up.

While this following tip is contrary to advice on eye strain, LifeHack.org advises:

Maximize your exposure to light. Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel. Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

WikiHow advises, “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” because of exposure to natural light.

Another thing Life Hack says is to talk to your co-workers if you find yourself nodding off. Get up from your desk and seek out company. Other sites advise calling a friend and having a short phone conversation.

Eat right

Also, make sure you have a good breakfast so you don’t shut down from lack of energy. Life Hack advises avoiding the sausage, greasy eggs and pancakes and instead opt for whole grain cereals and bread, fruit and yogurt.

Having a healthy snack of fruit or nuts at work can also boost energy. By avoiding candy, doughnuts and other sweets you also avoid the carbohydrate sugar crash, the phenomenon of your mood and energy collapsing after consuming sugars.

Be sure you drink plenty of water so you don’t get dehydrated, which can also cause drowsiness. Plus, if you need to go to the bathroom a lot it will get you up from your desk. This is a trick law students and other scholars who work into the night use.

Stay awake at work

Another old trick is to splash cold water on your face when you feel like you need to sleep. You’d be surprised at how much this wakes you up. It can make you feel like a new person.

Mark Miller
Mark Miller


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