How to Stay Awake at Work: Tips for Young Professionals

A man has fake glasses with painted eyes on them while he sleeps at work and pretends he's on his computer

Struggling to keep your eyes open and your brain functioning during the workday?

Yeah, we've all been there.

It's like a battle to maintain your energy levels and actually get things done. Especially when you're stuck in those soul-crushing, stress-inducing workdays... the never-ending rat race.

But don't let the fear of staying awake haunt you.

In this blog post, we'll highlight what causes this drowsiness at work and give some simple and practical tips to help you boost your energy levels and stay focused.

Whether you're sluggish while working-from-home or nodding off while stuck in a cubicle, these tips will have you feeling energized and ready to take on the world.

What Causes Excessive Daytime Sleepiness: The Sun ZzZ's

A man grabs his face because he is stressed, exhausted and falling asleep at work

Let's dive deeper into the mysteries of midday malaise and this strange phenomenon we call "drowsiness."

Here are a few 'delightful' culprits that could be causing your daytime disco nap:

Poor Sleep Quality

Sleep, that elusive beauty queen that always seems to run away when we need her most. If your nighttime slumber is more like a horror movie than a peaceful lullaby, it's no wonder you're nodding off during your 9-to-5.

The inability to fall asleep is most likely caused by too much caffeine intake during the day, your mind racing or lack of regular exercise.

Lack of healthy sleep is like trying to run a marathon with one leg. Good luck with that.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Sitting for hours on end in your ergonomic chair that promised to 'revolutionize your sitting experience' can lead to lethargy.

When you have a lack of diversification in your work obligations it causes lack of motion, so look for more engaging work responsibilities that are more physical.

While you may be doing your best impersonation of a statue, your body is screaming for movement. A sedentary lifestyle is like telling your body to hibernate... at noon.


You might think that your 27th coffee of the day is keeping you hydrated. Spoiler alert: it's not.

Dehydration can sneak up on you like an embarrassing typo in a serious email. It's subtle, it's disastrous, and it's a one-way ticket to Snoozeville.

Drink water to stay hydrated and keep coffee intake to 1 to 2 cups maximum.

Unhealthy Diet

Your love affair with junk food, like sugary snacks, might be romantic in the short term, but it's a toxic relationship for your energy levels.

Consuming high sugar, low nutrient foods is like putting diesel in a gasoline car. It might work for a bit, but eventually, you're going to break down.

Replace that morning donut with a healthy snack, like oatmeal with fruit slices.

So, there you have it. The notorious gang of energy thieves that are probably conspiring against your productivity right now.

18 Tips for Staying Awake at Work

A woman tilts back in her chair at work and drops Sunday Scaries CBD Oil in her mouth

Because dragging your feet through the day is so last season.

1. Fight Dehydration: Keep a Water Bottle Handy

Because, like we said, coffee isn't hydrating. Regular sips of the good old H2O can keep you fresh and alert.

Research from the National Academy of Medicine suggests an adequate intake of daily fluids of about 13 cups and 9 cups for healthy men and women, respectively, with 1 cup equaling 8 ounces.

Necessary Water Intake per Day -

Men: 104 ounces
Women: 72 ounces

After all, you can't expect your brain cells to dance without water.

2. Stand Up, Sit Less

Yes, your chair isn't your best friend. Stand up, stretch, do a little jig. Keep that blood flowing and defy the gravitational pull towards the land of lethargy.

Performing more stimulating tasks throughout the day is key. Practice the Pomodoro Technique, a time management method based on 25-minute stretches of focused work broken by five-minute breaks where you boost energy.

Consider a Standing Desk

Sitting all day is so passé. A standing desk can help improve posture and increase energy. Check out a list of the best standing desks here.

3. Snack Smart: Ditch the Junk

Junk food is like that bad boy your parents warned you about - it might seem fun, but it's really just dragging you down.

Opt for nutrient-dense snacks to keep your engine running smooth, these act as a quick energy boost and will increase alertness.

Check out this Northwestern Medicine list on jump-start snacks.

4. Embrace the Power Nap

A quick 20-minute siesta isn't laziness, it's strategic recharging. Just make sure it doesn't turn into an impromptu hibernation session.

Take a quick nap by going in a dark room to avoid natural light. You can also create designated nap rooms in your house that you only use for naps to help induce sleep faster.

Research suggests that an early nap in the afternoon is most effective for optimal cognitive performance.

5. Keep it Bright

Work in a well-lit space, especially if you work the night shift. Your body associates darkness with sleep, so don't confuse the poor thing.

Ensure to get morning sunlight in order to kickstart your circadian rhythm, and for those of you who do work the night shifts try light therapy, or bright light therapy, which is a non-invasive treatment using light wavelengths to help regulate your circadian rhythm.

Let there be light, and let there be wakefulness.

6. Get Some Fresh Air

Step outside for a bit.

In order to fight daytime fatigue it's good to step into nature, which will encourage increased alertness.

While outside, perform some deep breathing exercises. A few breaths of fresh air can work wonders for your alertness and is imperative in ultimately aiding mental performance at work.

7. Listen to Upbeat Music

Music can be a great way to decrease sleepiness while at work. Just make sure it's something upbeat and fun.

If you're sleep deprived and don't have some high-tempo motivational music of your own, try this YouTube video for Music to keep you awake and focused.

Remember, we're trying to avoid lullabies that induce sleep time here.

8. Exercise

A little physical activity goes a long way. You don't need to run a marathon - a few stretches, a quick walk, maybe some desk-side yoga?

Exercise is helpful in stimulating breath, getting your endorphins pumping, and will help you with falling asleep at night.

Suffer from Gymtimidation? Learn how to overcome performance anxiety at the gym here.

9. Laugh a Little

Laughter, as they say, is the best medicine. It's also a great wake-up call.

Share a joke, watch a funny video, do what it takes to tickle your funny bone.

Check out other ways laughter can improve your health.

10. Eat a Healthy Breakfast

After you get a full night's sleep, start your day with a balanced meal.

Consuming caffeine without food can cause an upset stomach, so this is another good reason to chow down before you chug a cup of joe.

Check out this list for the 12 Best Foods to Eat in the Morning.

11. Limit Caffeine

You might think that 11th cup of coffee is what you need, but too much caffeine can lead to a midday crash.

This includes caffeine pills and energy shots.

Moderation is key, and without it you can get the jitters, feel your skin crawl, and it will lead to sleep loss and the inability to get a good night's sleep.

If you get the jitters even when you have only 1 cup of tea, you can offset the feeing with CBD oil, which also helps with focus and concentration.

12. Stay Organized

Nothing saps your energy quite like chaos. Stay on top of your tasks and declutter your workspace.

If you feel tired at work and can't perform your job, it can be due to performance at work or the fact that you are just overwhelmed with tasks and unsure how to accomplish them all.

Try a task management tool like ClickUp, which is the best tool for organizing and scheduling your work items.

13. Keep Your Workspace Cool

A warm and cozy room might sound nice, but it can also make you feel sleepy. Keep your workspace slightly cool to stay alert.

You can stay awake naturally just by setting the room temperature at low degrees. This is usually why when you go to conferences the A/C is pumping so high, so they can keep you focused on the presentation!

The ideal working temperature is between 70-72 degrees Fahrenheit. To stay awake simply by working in a cold environment, try installing a Nest.

14. Use Essential Oils

Certain scents like peppermint and citrus can help you stay awake.

In order to combat daytime sleepiness consider buying an essential oil diffuser. Check out this list from the NY Times for the best diffusers.

Once you have one up and running, practice taking deep in and out breaths between responding to emails.

And just make sure you're not turning your office into a perfume factory.

15. Chew Gum

Chewing gum can increase blood flow to the brain, helping you to fight sleepiness and stay awake.

See, learning how to stay awake isn't as hard as it sounds, plus, since we want to avoid sugary items, try sugar-free, healthy gum from Simply.

16. Use Blue Light Wisely

Ever wonder why you can't fall asleep at night? Or why you never get enough sleep because you keep waking up at night disturbing your REM cycle?

It's that pesky smart phone of yours.

Blue light can help you stay awake - don't use it too close to bedtime, or you'll mess up your sleep cycle. And if you are using your phone throughout the day, check out this list for the best blue-light blocking glasses so you don't screw up your body's sleep wake cycle.

17. Dress to Impress

Dressing well can make you feel more awake and confident.

This is an important tip especially for those who work-from-home. It can be incredibly tempting to just throw on some sweatpants and wear a hat to cover your hair, but wearing dress shoes gets you in the mood to dominate work.

18. Practice Mindfulness

Stay in the moment. Practice mindfulness. It's a great way to keep your mind focused, and a focused mind is a wakeful mind.

Check out this Beginner’s Guide to Meditation for Sleep & Anxiety which highlights tips for a successful practice.

A woman meditates at work on her yoga mat with a bottle of water and Sunday Scaries CBD Oil

How Working-From-Home Affects Your Sleep & Energy Levels

Home, sweet home? Not so sweet when it's sabotaging your sleep and zapping your zeal. Here's how your lovely abode is playing puppeteer with your energy levels.

1. The Lure of Bright Lights

In the comfort of our homes, we're constantly exposed to bright artificial lights – your laptop's love letter to your retinas.

This unnatural light exposure can disrupt your circadian rhythms, tricking your brain into thinking it's daylight all day, every day. Say goodbye to quality sleep and hello to perpetual zombie mode.

2. The Absence of Natural Sunlight

Stuck indoors, we miss out on the benefits of natural sunlight. This divine light regulates our sleep-wake cycle and boosts our mood.

Without it, our body's internal clock goes haywire. It's like trying to navigate without a compass, and let's face it, not all of us are Bear Grylls.

3. The Disruption of Sleep Hormones

Working and sleeping in the same space can blur the boundaries, leading to stress and disrupted sleep hormone production. Instead of a peaceful slumber sanctuary, your bedroom becomes a battleground for sleep and stress hormones. It's like a melodrama unfolding right in your bed.

How Caffeine Affects Your Energy at Work

A man drops Sunday Scaries CBD Oil in his coffee to avoid the jitters

Caffeine deserves a section of it's own when discussing 'How to Stay Awake at Work'.

When you're feeling the midday slump, or you're trying to pull an all-nighter, nothing sounds quite as tempting as a steaming cup of Joe.

But how does caffeine affect your energy at work? Let's spill the beans (coffee beans, that is).

Caffeine works by blocking adenosine, a neurotransmitter that tells your brain to rest. By doing so, it tricks your brain into thinking it's not time for a nap.

On the flip side, it also stimulates adrenaline production, giving you a quick energy boost. This is why energy drinks, which are typically loaded with caffeine, are so popular among those in need of a fast pick-me-up.

However, before you start chugging those sugary cans, remember that the rapid increase in blood sugar can lead to an equally rapid crash, leaving you feeling even more tired than before.

On the other hand, caffeine can have detrimental effects on our blood sugar levels. It stimulates the release of cortisol, a hormone that in turn prompts your liver to produce more glucose, effectively lowering blood sugar.

This might work for short-term energy boosts, but in the long run, it can leave you feeling more tired and sluggish as your body works to balance out the low blood sugar levels.

And of course, we must not forget about the problem of drowsy driving. If you rely too heavily on caffeine to keep you awake during a long commute, you could be putting yourself and others at risk.

Remember, caffeine is not a substitute for proper sleep.

One final note: when it comes to caffeine, always opt for only high quality sources. The caffeine found in natural products like coffee and tea is far more beneficial than the synthetic caffeine found in many energy drinks and supplements.

A cup of well-brewed coffee or a fresh pot of tea not only gives you a healthier energy boost, but also provides a host of other health benefits. So, next time you're reaching for a caffeine fix, choose wisely.

How Sunday Scaries Affects Your Energy Levels at Work

The Sunday Scaries Sidepiece bundle is placed next to a MacBook Pro

Sunday Scaries - They're like that party guest who overstays their welcome, turning your laid-back weekend vibes into a pre-Monday nightmare faster than you can say, "Where's my vibrating alarm clock?"

But did you know they're also sneakily sapping your energy faster than your blood pressure rises when you realize it's Monday tomorrow?

Yes, my friends, Sunday Scaries are more than just a mental menace. They're staging a covert operation on your physical energy too.

Ever noticed how your body feels sluggish as the Sunday evening dread kicks in? That's not just your mind playing tricks. Your body's responding to the stress, and it's not all in your head.

When the anxious anticipation of the looming work week sets in, your body responds by increasing blood pressure.

It's like it's preparing you for a bear attack, except the bear is an overflowing email inbox and a dreary Monday meeting. This elevated blood pressure, while helpful for outrunning grizzlies, isn't so great for your energy levels.

It puts your body in a state of hyperarousal, which can be exhausting.

But it's not all doom and gloom. There's a plot twist.

Sunday Scaries, the sneaky little devil, lowers blood pressure too.

"Huh?" I hear you say. Let me explain. They're an alarm clock, a vibrating alarm clock that shakes you out of complacency, reminding you to prioritize relaxation and self-care.

A little self-love can go a long way in reducing this stress.

So next time Sunday Scaries come knocking, remember this: They're not just the villains they're made out to be.

They might just be the alert you need that wakes you up to a more energized, less stressed you.

Here's to reclaiming our Sundays – and our energy – from the Scaries.

Wrapping Up: Defeating the Energy Vampires in Your Life

In conclusion, maintaining energy levels at work is essential for every young professional. Stress and long workdays can drain your energy, making it difficult to focus and achieve your goals.

Taking breaks, keeping your body fueled, using essential oils, practicing deep breathing exercises, and abolishing those Sunday Scaries can help you maintain high energy levels throughout the day and bolster your mental health.

So if you never get a sound sleep, you need to stay awake at work in order to perform, and your job doesn't provide nap rooms, make sure to keep these tips handy.

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