How to Ditch Daytime Sleepiness at the Office (for once and all)

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While reaching for yet another cup of coffee to combat office sleepiness may seem like the most obvious thing to do, it’s not necessarily the best. Overloading on caffeine can actually make you feel worse, eventually disrupting your natural sleep pattern, making you jittery and nervous, or even resulting in heart palpitations or a stomach ache. Yuck is right, especially when you have a host of healthier ways to stay awake.

Check out a number of perk-you-up tips based on our own experience combined with info from Mark’s Daily Apple and Dr. Frank Lipman.

Get Enough Nighttime Shut-eye

Yeah, this one may seem obvious, but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 41 million workers are still getting fewer than six hours of sleep each night. It’s not a wonder so many folks are slumped over at their desks; it’s a wonder any are even awake at all.

Try prepping your body for sleep with an electronic shutdown of your home around 10 p.m., turning off all computers and other electronics that prevent your body’s natural production of sleep-inducing melatonin. Blackout curtains and a sleep mask can additionally help eradicate all traces of light once you’re ready for slumber.

Let there be Light

That same light you’re trying to avoid at night should be sought out during the office slump. Take a quick walk outside in the bright sunshine or otherwise head into a super-bright and super-lit room.

Move it

running at lunch hour

Simply getting up from your desk and moving around the office can help increase alertness. Go one better with a bout of afternoon exercise. Instead of spending your lunch hour at the dark and crowded diner, try heading to the gym for a quick workout. Exercise can not only help you stay alert during the day, but it can help you sleep better at night (not to mention what it can do for killing off calories and stress).

Splish and Splash

A study out of Tokyo says bathing can help you stay awake, which means you’d get a double dose of natural pep if you showered after your midday gym workout. For those who don’t have a bathtub in their cubicle, you can try the age-old art of splashing cold water on your face fight daytime drowsiness.

Grab a Cat Nap

Got a quiet corner office no one’s using? Ask your boss if you can enjoy its solace for a quick, midday nap. Researchers from Missouri’s Harry S. Truman Veterans Administration Hospital found naps that lasted from 10 to 30 minutes seemed to increase alertness throughout the rest of the day. Going longer than 30 minutes, however, seemed to make people even groggier and less productive than before the nap.

Schedule Upbeat Afternoon Activities

If your afternoons are typically spent staring at a computer screen or otherwise engaged in mind-numbing work, why not try to switch it up with more vibrant activities. They can still be work-related, of course, but they can include an invigorating meeting with a new prospect, productive business gatherings, or even awards activities where employees can be rewarded with motivational gifts and honors. Bet no employee would dare fall asleep during one of those shindigs!

Pump up the Jams

music headphones

Add music to your activities, or even your mind-numbing computer work, and you can increase your alertness to even higher levels. A report published by the New Zealand Transport Agency found sleepy drivers who turned on their car stereos dramatically decreased their accident rates.

Try a Green Juice Boost

Greens are good at providing a burst of energy, particularly when you consume them in the form of vitamin-rich juice. Head to a juice bar during your afternoon break, or get a juicer for your home to create freshly pressed juice you can bring to work for an afternoon perk. Sounds like too much of a pain? Powdered green drinks are on the market you can mix and sip right at your desk.

And yes, you can still have your coffee. As long as you’re not downing more than four cups of coffee per day, MayoClinic reports that most folks do OK with moderate amounts of caffeine. Don’t forget caffeine is also found in chocolate and tea, which may also work in a pinch to get you through that afternoon office slump when napping, exercise, music, bathing or bright lights just won’t cut it.