Posted by Bridget Reed

How To Stay Awake at Work: 8 Proven Methods

Staying awake at work is a common battle many face, especially during the mid-afternoon slump when energy levels dip and drowsiness takes hold. Whether it's fighting sleepiness after a poor night's sleep or maintaining alertness through night shifts, understanding how to manage tiredness can significantly impact productivity and overall wellness. 

This article explores proven methods to combat daytime sleepiness and boost your energy throughout the workday, incorporating everything from better sleep habits to smart snacking and workspace optimization.

1. Stay Hydrated

Ensuring you drink enough water is surprisingly critical in combating tiredness and enhancing your ability to stay awake. Proper hydration supports essential bodily functions, including regulating body temperature and ensuring efficient operation of the heart and muscles. 

When you're well-hydrated, your body is better equipped to fight off the lethargy that can impede productivity. Cold water can also have a revitalizing effect, momentarily increasing alertness by activating your body's sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for your fight-or-flight response. 

This can lead to a natural increase in energy levels, helping to shake off any sleepiness. Integrating hydrating foods into your diet, such as fruits and vegetables high in water content, can further aid in maintaining hydration. 

Regularly consuming cold water and hydrating foods helps manage blood sugar levels and prevents the dips in energy associated with dehydration. Even standing up to refill your water bottle can contribute to increased blood flow, further combating drowsiness.

Making a habit of drinking water can thus play a pivotal role in your daily routine to stay awake, maintain energy levels throughout the workday, and support overall wellness.

2. Get Better Sleep the Night Before

Achieving better sleep is a multifaceted process that requires more than just spending the recommended hours of sleep in bed. It involves cultivating sleep habits that signal to your body that it's time to wind down and prepare for rest. 

This can include establishing a consistent sleep schedule, reducing exposure to blue light from screens before bedtime, and creating a restful environment that encourages sleep. Our Miracle Made® Sheets elevate this environment by providing comfort and leveraging the health benefits of their silver-infused fabric. 

The antimicrobial properties of silver help keep your bedding cleaner, which is crucial for individuals with allergies or sensitive skin. Moreover, by reducing the frequency of laundry due to their self-cleaning capabilities, these sheets offer a practical solution to maintaining a fresh sleep environment with less effort.

Good sleep hygiene, supported by products that enhance the sleep experience, lays the groundwork for waking up refreshed. It’s a holistic approach to wellness that begins with the quality of your sleep and extends into how energized you feel during your waking hours, especially at work.

3. Take Regular Short Breaks

The rationale behind taking regular short breaks, such as those prescribed by the Pomodoro Technique, is grounded in understanding how our brains and bodies work. Continuous work without adequate breaks can lead to mental fatigue, reducing your ability to concentrate and ultimately affecting productivity. 

You can reset your attention span and return to work with renewed focus and energy by stepping away from your tasks and engaging in different activities. If you’re someone who feels like their to-do list is too long to take breaks, think about variety. 

Especially if you work from home, even stepping away from your work computer for five minutes to do the laundry can give your eyes and brain a beat to recharge.

4. Engage in Light Physical Activity

Incorporating light physical activity into your day is a powerful way to combat drowsiness and enhance alertness. Exercises like stretching, yoga poses, or even a brief session of desk-side calisthenics can invigorate your body by boosting blood flow and oxygen to your brain. 

These activities provide a quick, energizing effect and contribute to long-term health benefits, such as improved flexibility and reduced risk of chronic conditions. Engaging in physical activity can stimulate the production of endorphins, the body's natural mood elevators, helping to improve your mood and reduce stress levels during the workday. 

For shift workers or those with irregular schedules, light exercise can be especially beneficial in resetting the internal clock and mitigating the impact of disrupted sleep patterns on energy levels.

5. Optimize Your Workspace for Brightness

Maximizing the amount of bright light in your workspace can play a crucial role in combating fatigue and enhancing your ability to stay awake. Natural light is particularly effective in regulating melatonin production, a hormone that influences sleep and wake cycles. 

Investing in full-spectrum light bulbs that mimic daylight can offer similar benefits for those without access to natural light, especially during night shifts. These lighting solutions can help maintain your body's circadian rhythms, reducing the risk of daytime sleepiness and improving overall mood and alertness. 

Moreover, a well-lit workspace can decrease eye strain, which often contributes to feelings of tiredness, further supporting productivity and focus throughout the day.

6. Consume Caffeine Wisely

When used judiciously, caffeine can be a valuable ally in maintaining energy levels and warding off sleepiness. The key is understanding how caffeine affects your body and time your intake to maximize its benefits without hindering your sleep quality. 

For instance, enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning or early afternoon can provide a boost of energy and improve concentration. However, it's important to avoid caffeine close to bedtime, as it can interfere with the production of melatonin, delaying the onset of sleep and potentially leading to sleep disorders. 

Moderation is crucial, as excessive caffeine can lead to increased heart rate and nervous system stimulation, causing jitteriness rather than sustained alertness.

7. Snack on Energy-Boosting Foods

Selecting snacks that are rich in nutrients can offer a steady source of energy, keeping blood sugar levels stable and preventing the fatigue that often follows the consumption of sugary snacks. Healthy snacks like peanut butter on whole-grain crackers or a small serving of nuts and dried fruit provide a balanced mix of carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein. 

These components work together to supply a slow and steady release of energy, helping you stay alert without the risk of a sugar crash. Such snacks are particularly beneficial for maintaining energy levels, supporting overall wellness, and avoiding the spikes and dips in energy that can impair work performance.

8. Listen to Upbeat Music

Listening to upbeat music has the power to elevate your mood and boost your energy almost instantly. The rhythm and tempo of the music you choose can play a significant role in stimulating your mind and body, making tasks feel more manageable and less monotonous. 

Music with a fast beat can increase mental alertness and physical coordination, making it a perfect tool for re-energizing during the workday. However, it's essential to consider your work environment and use headphones if necessary to avoid disturbing colleagues. The right playlist can serve as a motivational backdrop, enhancing productivity and focus.

The Bottom Line

Managing daytime sleepiness and maintaining high energy levels at work involves a combination of good sleep habits, proper hydration, smart snacking, and optimizing your workspace and work schedule. 

Staying awake at work is more than just battling the urge to take a power nap in the short term. It's about a long-term effort to create a lifestyle that supports your body's needs, from getting enough sleep to feeding it the right nutrients and keeping it active. 

By following these proven methods, you'll not only improve your ability to stay awake but also enhance your overall wellness.


Water, Hydration and Health | National Library of Medicine

Exercise | CDC

Effects Of Light Intervention On Alertness And Mental Performance During The Post-Lunch Dip: A Multi-Measure Study | National Library of Medicine

The Science of Snacking | Harvard School of Public Health

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