We’ve all been there – following a heavy night or bad night’s sleep – struggling to keep our eyes open at work. Watching the seconds crawl by is never pleasant, but when you’re finding it hard to stay focused it’s even worse.
For many of us, the priority will be getting through the day and keeping on top of our work. Or at least going undetected by the boss!
However, in some industries, being sleepy could affection your attention to detail. This could be very dangerous or even fatal.
When you’re finding it hard to stay awake, it can be tempting to reach for the energy drinks or sugary snacks. But these could actually leave you feeling worse.
If you’ve been burning the candle at both ends and are considering matchsticks for your eyelids, read on for our 7 effective tips to stay awake at work.
A Little Stimulation
Many of us are partial to a cup of joe to give us some pep in the morning. Having a coffee early in your shift may be beneficial for increasing your alertness. Beware of overdoing it though – caffeine can be dehydrating, which will actually dull your mental capacity.
It’s also best to avoid having coffee later on in your day, as this could affect your sleep quality, making you even more tired tomorrow!
It’s also recommended that you avoid energy drinks. Although they promise a short-term increase in alertness, they are usually full of sugar. This, combined with the particularly high caffeine contact can lead to some big crashes.
If the caffeine isn’t quite cutting it, you might explore the idea of Nootropics. These are powerful chemical compounds which can optimize our performance. Some of these most powerful choices have been used for centuries.
Stay Hydrated to Stay Awake at Work
As you may know, we are at least 60% water. With this in mind, our brains and bodies like to be as wet as possible for optimal function. If you’re dehydrated, your systems will be struggling to perform, which may lead to sluggish feelings at work.
Keep a jug or bottle of water next to you and sip often. This will keep you ticking over like a well-oiled machine. Remember, if you’re feeling thirsty then you’re already dehydrated!
Take A Walk
A brisk walk around the office or around the block can do wonders for your energy levels. The fresh air will be stimulating for the senses, and if the sun’s out then a hit of Vit D will also be beneficial.
Physical exercise releases endorphins and adrenaline, so this will also give you a boost. The change of scenery will also be stimulating for the brain, increasing your alertness. Combining it with a trip to the water fountain will be doubly efficient!
Most of us will not be blessed with the opportunity to sleep at work. If you are one of the lucky few, then even 15 minutes of shut-eye can be powerful. Taking a short sleep will leave you feeling revived and energized.
You needn’t even fully fall asleep - resting for a short while can also boost energy levels.
If you’re bracing yourself for a long and tiring shift, a quick snooze beforehand might also be worthwhile. Roll your seat back in the parking lot and grab 40 winks – providing you’re not parked within view of the boss’s office!
As mentioned, exercise has a biological effect on the body which can increase alertness. If you’re unable to take a walk, try some other activity for a few minutes.
A few yoga stretches could help to energize the body. You could even involve your colleagues! Otherwise, try some exercises at your desk to shake the cobwebs off.
You might also consider asking for a standing desk. Research suggests that those who stand at their desk are more alert and creative. At least you know you probably can’t sleep whilst standing.
Fuel Your Body
If you’re struggling to stay awake at work, a little fuel injection could do the trick. This isn’t a license to raid the donut box though. A sugar spike will soon give way to low blood sugar and even less energy.
Instead, opt for snacks which are high in protein, carbohydrates and good fats. Things like nut butter, whole grain crackers, fruit, and veggies should be in your desk drawer for energy dips.
Fresh and Bright
We don’t always have the ability to control our work environment. For those of you who are able to make some changes, these adjustments could make a difference.
Firstly, make sure that your workspace is well lit. If you’re nodding off then bright light will help to keep you stimulated. Our circadian rhythms are affected by the light around us.
If our body thinks it’s a bright morning, it will respond accordingly – even if you’re actually pulling an all-nighter.
Opening a window for some fresh air, or at least cranking the AC will also help. Our bodies naturally become heavy and tired when on the warmer side.
To silence any protests from colleagues, you can let them know that research indicates that 22c is the optimal work environment.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve read this far, chances are you’ve followed these tips to avoid falling asleep at your desk. If you’re finding yourself regularly struggling to stay awake at work during the day, perhaps you need to look at what’s causing your tiredness.
It might also be time to address the work-life balance. Check out this post on flexible working and how it could work for you.