Staying awake at work during a long shift can be difficult. Odds are, you are reading this because you have at least dozed off one or two times when you were supposed to be awake. Shhh… I won’t tell your boss.
Did you fall asleep for two seconds or was it one of those embarrassing moments where you woke up with drool on your keyboard or paperwork or did a colleague tell you that you are snoring? Whether you got caught or not, the mid-afternoon visit from the sandman can detrimental to your job. It’s unprofessional, even though it happens to the best of us. Here are some tricks that have helped me out during long days.
Obviously, get enough sleep:
Getting the daily recommended amount of sleep is crucial to being efficient everyday. Half the battle is making sure you are in bed on time. The other half is trying to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep.
Here are three things you can do to fall asleep quicker:
- Don’t interact with anything that has an electronic screen an hour before you go to bed. Even if it is ‘mindless entertainment’ the pixels from the computer monitor, smartphone, tablet or TV screen will stimulate the brain keeping you awake.
- Listen to or read a non-electronic book without pictures (no magazines). Remember when you were a kid and stories helped you fall asleep? Reading can lull your brain to sleep.
- Writing is considered a form of therapy and can lower stress. Write in a notebook or a journal. Any form of writing can do. It can be a collection of poems, to-do lists, accomplishments, goals, etc.
The biggest key to falling asleep quickly is to turn off the light, lay down, and close your eyelids when feeling tired .
I personally try and stay away from caffeine as much as possible. That being said, I do rely on it sometimes. Caffeine is great for a quick pick-me-up without any effort. I only use it as a last resort.
Since caffeine is technically a drug, there are several problems with relying on caffeine daily. Short term it causes you to crash into a deeper state of drowsiness after it wears off and leads to increased lack of sleep when it comes time to crawl into bed. Long term your body depends on caffeine to wake up and stay awake. This means you have to invest anywhere from $2-7 a day just to get through the day. Furthermore, over time your body will start requiring you to intake more because it builds up an immunity to it.
Don’t eat so much:
Ever notice how before lunch you are wide awake and alert, then after you are drowsy and ready for a nap? Lunch is one of the biggest catalyst to becoming lethargic in the afternoon. This is one of the reasons why many South American cultures have siestas (which I am envious of).
The easiest way to avoid taking a siesta without changing your diet is by not eating as much. Eat until you are comfortable, not until you are full. It takes time for your mind to say, “Stop you have had enough!” If you eat slower you won’t eat as much because your mind can properly let you know you have had enough.
For those of you who eat a heavy lunch and later walk away saying, “I ate too much food, I am so full!” Getting up and moving is a great way to get blood flowing to all around and not just your stomach.
There are several light exercises that you can do without breaking into a full on sweat (no one likes working next to smelly people). Stretching, Jumping jacks or push-ups are effective ways of getting your blood flowing all around.
Take in some sunshine:
Not everyone is going to feel comfortable doing a push-up in the workplace. A great alternative is getting some direct sunshine. This helps remind your brain that it’s day-time and you are supposed to be awake.
Take a five minute break and go take a walk around outside where you can soak up some of those rays from the sun. This will not only wake your brain up from the sunshine but from the light exercise of walking around.
All else fails, stand up:
I have worked in environments where the boss is a ‘break nazi’ (“No break for you!”). In this situation, a good substitute is standing up while working. After all, it’s physically impossible to fall asleep standing up.
After reading these tricks, is there anything you do that isn’t mentioned here to help keep you from dozing off?
Mike Alder is a University of Utah business marketing student and marketing specialist at Lendio. Passionate about entrepreneurship, small businesses, and inbound marketing. Mike shows his passion by sharing stories of successful entrepreneurs and companies with small business owners on the Lendio blog. He makes these big success stories easy-to-apply in simple and easy to read language for the everyday small business owner and entrepreneur.