Four Easy Tips to Help You Stay Awake at Work
School’s out for summer and the time of sun, relaxation and road trips has arrived. But chances are, like me, you also have a summer job or internship that requires you to spend long hours sitting at a desk. Even if you’ve gotten a good night’s sleep, a day of nothing but sitting can leave you feeling groggy and drowsy. And as every college girl knows, relying on coffee to wake you up can turn you into a jittery mess. It also adds up, because most of us buy our coffee much more often than we make it. So, in honor of all you working girls, here are a few tips to keep you feeling awake and energized throughout the day – whether you’re in a classroom or a cubicle.
1. Start your day with movement and keep it going. When you first wake up, your body has been inactive for hours. If you roll out of bed, drag yourself to work and then sit for the whole day, it will take you a long time to fully wake up. So, when you get up in the morning, get out of bed and move! Jump up and down, or if you’re really ambitious, drop down and do a few push-ups or crunches. This seems like the last thing you’d want to do when your alarm has just gone off, but it works. Activating your muscles will cause blood to flow into them. This increased blood circulation will energize you from head to toe.
Move as much as possible throughout the day. Obviously, some work environments will allow more opportunities for this than others. Any chance you have to stand up and walk around, take it. Do you have a dog or a cat? If so, you’ve surely noticed how often they indulge in a nice stretch. Take a page out of your pet’s book! Stretching increases circulation, too. Stand up and reach your arms to the ceiling, like you do when you’ve just woken up. Or, as Lil Jon would say, bend over to the front and touch your toes! (Just not when any creepy coworkers can see you – this one might have to wait for lunch or bathroom breaks.)
2. Eat breakfast! Yes, yes, your mom’s been nagging you about this one since you were a little kid. Hate to say it, but she was right. Starting your day with foods that properly fuel your body will help you stay awake. Good ideas for breakfast are: complex carbohydrates, like oatmeal or whole grain cereal; low fat dairy; low fat protein sources, like peanut butter; and fresh fruit.
Some people wake up not feeling hungry. If this sounds familiar, it usually happens because you’ve snacked too late at night or your sleep schedule is off, making you feel bloated. But if you eat breakfast in the morning, you’ll be less likely to snack later in the day. It’s a cycle! So if you’re not feeling hungry, try to adjust your sleep and eating habits – this will make you feel more energized and keep you from overeating. It’s a win/win!
3. Bright light, better day. Bright lighting, especially natural light, will help you feel more awake. Dim lighting, on the other hand, can make you feel sleepy and fatigued. So if it’s at all possible, fill your workspace with natural light, or take a short walk outside on any breaks.
If you’re stuck indoors with fluorescent lights, give your eyes a break by looking away from your computer screen as often as possible. Staring at one thing for too long, especially the artificial light of a computer screen, will put you right to sleep.
4. Stimulate the senses. A strong smell, good or bad, can help energize you. It catches your brain’s attention and pulls you out of that awful half-awake state. So indulge in that way-too-expensive scented lotion you bought, eat a fragrant orange as a snack or walk by the desk of that woman who wears way too much perfume.
Drinking a very cold glass of water has a similar effect. The little chill makes your body spring into action to warm itself back up. Plus, staying hydrated will mean more frequent bathroom breaks, which gives you the opportunity to walk around a little bit.
What other tips do you have for staying awake at work?