How to Keep Awake If You Didn't Get Enough Sleep

Life Oct 29, 2020

With more and more of us getting less and less sleep, it’s tempting to reach for a Red Bull or an espresso when we feel sleepy at work. But consuming caffeine to combat sleepiness can lead to a vicious cycle.

Get Up and Move Around to Feel Awake

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Probably, the most powerful thing is to walk around and it will keep you awake, help you increase blood pressure and heat up your body.

In one well-known study, Robert Thayer, PhD, a professor at California State University, Long Beach, studied whether people were more energized by eating a candy bar or taking a brisk 10-minute walk.

Though the candy bar provided a quick energy boost, participants were actually more tired and had less energy an hour later. The 10-minute walk increased energy for two hours. That’s because walking pumps oxygen through your veins, brain, and muscles.

If you work at a desk, get up frequently for short walks. At meal breaks, walk to a restaurant or, if you bring your lunch, head for a nice spot to eat it. Whether you take a walk outside or just in the building where you work, it will make you feel more alert and refreshed.

Take a Nap to Take the Edge Off Sleepiness

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There are two things to remember about naps: Don’t take more than one and don’t take it too close to your bedtime.

Nap between 5 and 25 minutes. It’s best to nap   about six or seven hours before you would normally go to bed. If you must take a late nap close to bedtime, make it a short one.

Give Your Eyes a Break to Avoid Fatigue

Continuous fixation on a computer screen can cause eyestrain and worsen sleepiness and fatigue. Look away from the screen for a few minutes periodically to relax your eyes, or try to close them for a couple minutes.

The best way to give your eyes a quick break to avoid some more problems is to use some kind of "relaxation" eye drops.

Start a Conversation to Wake Up Your Mind

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Talk about some sharp topics so you won't get sleep trying to explain something to people you talk to. Also it might be something that you can find to say about instead of trying to guess what you gonna say next.

Turn Up the Lights to Ease Fatigue

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Environments with dim lighting aggravate fatigue. Studies have shown that exposure to bright light can reduce sleepiness and increase alertness. Try increasing the intensity of your light source at work or school.

Deep Breathe to Feel Alert

Deep breathing raises blood oxygen levels in the body. This slows your heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and improves circulation, ultimately aiding mental performance and energy.

Switch Tasks to Stimulate Your Mind

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In 2004 Finnish researchers who studied people working 12-hour night shifts found that monotonous work is as harmful as sleep loss for alertness.

At work or home, try to reserve more stimulating tasks for your sleepy times. Or switch to more engaging work responsibilities when you feel yourself nodding off.

Drink Water to Prevent Tiredness

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Dehydration can cause fatigue. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids and eat foods high in water such as fruits and vegetables.

Set up some goal and reminders on your phone so you won't forget to get some another cup of water, this is an important step. Tell Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa or Bixby to remind you for another intake.

Read also: How To Make Life Easier With Voice Assistants.

Get Some Daylight to Regulate Your Sleep Cycles

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Our circadian rhythms, which regulate our sleep-wake cycle, are influenced by daylight. Try to spend at least 30 minutes a day outside in natural sunlight. (Sleep experts recommend an hour of morning sunlight a day if you have insomnia.) Even a step outside for a breath of fresh air will revive your senses.

Exercise to Increase Energy and Reduce Fatigue

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Regular exercise also improves quality of sleep. Try to exercise 30 minutes a day.

If you decide to exercise hard some days, your energy level may drop for a bit and then surge for a few hours.

Eating a meal that contains both protein and carbohydrates within two hours after a heavy workout will lessen the initial energy loss. Be sure to finish your workout a few hours before bedtime so you are not energized when you try to sleep.

Snacks to keep your eyes open - no coffee required!

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Green Tea.

Dehydration can make you feel sleepy, but getting plenty of fluids will help boost alertness. Water is your best bet for hydration, but if you must have caffeine, opt for green tea instead of coffee. It has less caffeine (about 35 milligrams compared to about 200 milligrams) so you won’t have the same come-down once it wears off. Also, it's loaded with good-for-you antioxidants.


Cocoa beans naturally contain alertness-boosting caffeine, but not as much as coffee. Bonus: Chocolate also has heart-healthy flavonoids. Remember, the darker the chocolate, the more the caffeine it has.Just don’t use this as an excuse to overindulge – dark chocolate, like almost anything dessert-worthy, is best consumed in moderation.

Whole Grains.

Your body converts carbs to energy, and whole grains break down more slowly than simple, refined sugars (such as white bread or white rice), giving you a more steady energy release. Try noshing on brown rice, oats, barley, and rye. If you want a topper for some whole grain toast, try natural peanut butter and half a banana.


Fruits have sugars for a quick energy burst, but they don’t boost your glucose levels as much as say, candy, so you won’t crash and burn. Try fruits packed with vitamin C, such as oranges and pineapple, which help your body convert fat to energy, so you can ward off fatigue.


Protein offers a slow energy release. Try lean meats. Even though turkey has a reputation for making you sleepy because it contains tryptophan, a small amount may give your body the fuel ‘boost’ you need to get through a long afternoon.