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How to Stay Awake at Work When Your Energy is Zapped
Sleepy bulldog at a desk

Even if you couldn’t stop watching Netflix last night, it’s not really an option to take a nap under your desk. Learn how to stay awake at work when you’re fighting to keep your peepers open! 

Do you have a hard time keeping your eyes on your computer — because they’re slowly drifting shut? We’ve all rolled into work one time or another looking like we should still be in bed.

You know the feeling of hitting snooze one too many times, running out the door without washing your hair (because you could use that time to get coffee instead), and creeping into the office hoping no one notices you’re half-asleep. 

Maybe you pulled an all-nighter watching Grey’s Anatomy, or you had a bad night because you tossed and turned too much. (Or perhaps you’re simply not a morning person, and this is every day. No judgment — but see your doctor if this is a daily pattern!) 

It doesn’t matter why you’re dragging this morning. You just need a pick-me-up strategy so you can crush that brainstorming sesh that’s been staring you down since you rescheduled it last Monday. 

How to stay awake at work: a kit for energy 

The tips and tricks that pep you up best depend on what your body responds to well. For instance, if coffee turns you into a nervous pile of Jell-O, it’s probably not the best energy boost for you!

Check out this list of 7 ways to stay awake at work — and try out the ones that sound good to you! 

#1: Grab a cup o’ Joe

I mean, we have to mention the obvious. Chances are, you’re already reading this article with a cup in your other hand. But coffee is indeed a fast way to start feeling more awake within minutes. 

It’s a natural source of caffeine, of course, that central nervous system stimulant that improves energy (and sometimes, mood). But if coffee’s not your jam, there are other healthy ways to get a more subtle caffeine fix, like: 

  • Black, green, and white tea (but not most herbal teas) 
  • Yerba maté

A cup of coffee has 95 milligrams of caffeine, which is about twice as much as brewed tea or soda! And be careful with that soda and those energy drinks—the sugar crash can make you feel even worse later (and the health effects can be pretty icky). 

Bonus tip: Dehydration can make you even more tired! So, make sure you’re slamming a water bottle every so often. 

#2: Strut around the block

Next time you catch yourself yawning like an anaconda eating a large mammal, get up from your desk and take a 10-minute walk.

When you’re exhausted, walking is probably the last thing you feel like doing — but bear with us. A stroll gets the heart rate up and the blood flowing, and that makes you feel more alert. 

Even better, adding a walk to your daily workday can help fight fatigue regularly. In a 2006 research review, over 90% of the studies showed that regular exercise consistently improves fatigue! 

How to stay awake at work tip #3: Get a good stretch

A quick stretch can get your body feeling alive and ready to go, which helps get your mind on board too! 

Try these chair-friendly moves you can do at your desk:

  • Triceps stretch: Raise your arm, bend it over your head, and then use your other hand to pull your elbow closer to your head. Repeat it on the other side. 
  • Upper-body stretch: Raise your arms above your head and clasp your hands with your palms up. Reach your arms and stretch. 
  • Pectoralis stretch: Reach behind you with both arms and clasp your hands behind your back. Lift your chin up and push your chest out to stretch your chest and shoulders. 
  • Rhomboid stretch: Reach both arms in front of you and lower your head until it’s parallel with your arms and you’re looking at the floor. Reach and press forward to stretch your upper back. 

Hold each move for 10 to 30 seconds depending on whether you want a quick stretch or a long, static hold. 

#4: Catch a whiff

Essential oils can provide a quick energy boost, and they’re easy to keep at work — a roller takes up less space than a lipstick.

These five essential oils are known for their possible energy-enhancing properties

  • Peppermint 
  • Sweet orange 
  • Spearmint
  • Rosemary
  • Lemon

#5: Brighten up your workspace

If you’re wondering how to stay awake at work and the place has crappy lighting, that’s definitely not helping your energy problem. Bright light stimulates alertness and reduces sleepiness, so turn on that extra light next time you roll into work wishing it was naptime.

Bonus tip: Night shifters should be careful about too much bright light in the workplace.  At night, blue light (the most common spectrum) can disrupt sleep hormones, making you even more tired on a daily basis. And it can even cause depressive symptoms like fatigue. 

#6: Eat something energizing

When you’re so tired you feel like you might sink off your chair and onto the floor, ask yourself: Are you hangry? 

Even if you think you’re not, you might be — and it could be making you tired. Blood sugar changes all the time. And when it drops, you can feel exhausted.  

Keep ready-to-eat, high-energy, minimally-processed foods at your desk like these:

  • Apples, which are great at releasing energy gradually thanks to their high fiber content and natural sugars
  • Bananas, a great source of potassium, vitamin B6, and complex carbohydrates — all of which are energy-supporting
  • Dark chocolate, which contains antioxidants that could increase blood flow and oxygen for physical energy, and theobromine, which may influence mental energy 
  • Nuts, which have antioxidants, carbs, fiber, and protein for sustained energy release, as well as nutrients (such as manganese and iron) to support energy production 
  • Popcorn, which contains enough fiber and carbs for a slow-release energy boost 
  • Yogurt, which is an excellent source of protein for sustained energy and simple carbs for instant-release energy 

Once you get that precious energy back, you can keep your fuel level consistent throughout the workday by eating small amounts more often instead of taking a big lunch break. Grazing helps control blood sugar at a consistent level, so there aren’t any nasty crashes halfway through your workday. 

Our final tip for how to stay awake at work: Take a deep breath!

When’s the last time you took a REALLY deep breath? One that made you acutely aware that your lungs are full?

Most of us aren’t very good at breathing, which is a little odd, given how basic it is! 

Our lifestyles mean that we’re always leaned over a desk and breathing shallowly without even knowing it. After a lifetime of (barely) breathing that way, a lungful of air is downright energizing! 

You can try a breathing exercise like Box Breathing, or you can simply take a time out and breathe with your diaphragm. (Hint: You’re doing it right if your belly rises instead of your chest.) 

Are the workday ZZZs plaguing you on the daily? 

If you’ve tried everything and you just can’t wake yourself up at work, you should see your doctor. Unexplained fatigue can be a sign of many medical conditions, especially if you’re still tired even when you do get enough sleep. 

And when you’re struggling to stay in the world of the wakeful, cannabidiol could help — but not in the “take-it-and-get-a-jolt” like coffee kind of way. 

When you can’t fall asleep because of racing thoughts and need your brain to be functional for work, CBD may help you reclaim your Zen. It can help quiet those thoughts about all that stuff that hasn’t happened yet — or those focused on the embarrassing (but really unimportant) stuff that did happen.

Subscribe to Sunday Scaries to get THC-free, work-friendly CBD shipped right to your door at 20% off!

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