How to Stay Awake Naturally
4. Eat a Healthy Snack to Boost Energy
Sugary snacks give you a quick energy boost followed by the sugar “lows,” when low blood sugar produces mental fogginess and lethargy. Snacks such as these will provide better overall energy in the long run:
- Peanut butter on a whole wheat cracker or celery sticks
- Yogurt and a handful or nuts or fresh fruit
- Baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip
5. Start a Conversation to Wake Up Your Mind
If you’re fading fast, engaging in conversation can get your mind moving again. “Talk to a colleague about a business idea, politics, or religion,” says Krakow, medical director of Maimonides Sleep Arts and Sciences, Ltd. in Albuquerque, N.M. “It’s a very strong behavioral stimulator -- especially when it’s a conversation about politics.”
6. Turn Up the Lights to Ease Fatigue
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.
7. Take a Breather 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.
The idea of deep-breathing exercises is to inhale to the abdomen, not the chest. You can do them at your desk. Sitting up straight, try this exercise up to 10 times:
- With one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other on your chest, inhale deeply through your nose and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.
- Breathe out through lips pursed as if you were whistling. You can use the hand on your belly to help push air out.
Another technique, called stimulating breath, is used in yoga for a quick energy boost and increased alertness: Inhale and exhale rapidly through your nose, keeping your mouth closed but relaxed. Make your in-and-out breaths short -- do about three of each cycle in a second. Then breathe normally. You can do this for up to 15 seconds the first time and then add on five seconds each time after until you reach a minute.
8. If You’re Driving, Pull Over When Sleepy
“Driving while sleepy is as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol,” says Siebern. Common tricks such as opening the windows and turning on loud music won’t keep you awake for very long behind the wheel. “Have someone else drive or pull off the road and take a nap until you’re no longer sleepy,” Siebern says.
If you’re on an extended trip, change drivers often. Stop at least every two hours to take a walk and get some fresh air.