10 Tips For Staying Awake While Working

Ways to Immediately Solve Your Personal Energy Crisis

I'm useless after lunch. So if I still have work that needs to be done, I need tricks to get me energized and able to focus. I'm not alone in this afternoon slump, although for some it occurs earlier or later in the day.

So what do can be done when your eyes start to cross or your head starts to nod like a bobble-head doll? Check out these 10 emergency energy boosters

1
Move It!

woman stretching at her desk
Boost energy and mood by moving!. Zero Creatives/Getty Images

You can sleep when you're moving, at least not usually. Not only does moving require that you stay awake, but it can get the blood pumping to boost energy and mood so you can get your work done. In a popular study published by Robert Thayer, PhD, it compared the energizing effects of people who either ate a candy bar or walked briskly for 10 minutes. Walking increased energy for two hours. The candy bar initially boosted energy, but after an hour, those studied felt more tired and had less energy. 

Any type of movement will do. Stretch. Yoga. Take a walk. Do a chore. Dance. You don't even have to leave your desk to exercise. 

2
Eat a Small Healthy Snack

almonds on white background
Eat almond for energy boost!. Rob Lawson/Getty Images

The key to getting an energy boost from eating is to keep your snack small and healthy. If you don't want to revisit your energy slump shortly after you eat, avoid sugary and fattening snacks. Instead, choose something with protein, such as almonds.  WebMD Health expert, Dr. Christine Gerbstadt states, "A combination of protein and a complex carbohydrate (digested more slowly than simple carbs) increases your blood glucose in a sustained way, it boosts energy longer than if you eat gumdrops, for instance." Other options include, a spoonful of peanut butter with celery, cheese, or a glass of low-fat or skim milk.

3
Blast Your Favorite Upbeat Song

woman listening to headphones
Let the music boost your mood. Sam Edwards/Getty Images

Have you ever been driving and your favorite song comes on? What do you do? How do you feel? If you're like many people, you turn it up, sing along and maybe even bounce to the beat. And as a result, you feel happy and energized. 

So turn on a song that perks you up, whether it's got a great beat or has inspiring lyrics. Turn it on, and feel the energy rise.

4
Have a Drink

glass of water
Hydrate and energize with a cool glass of water. Level1studio/Getty Images

No, not wine or booze. That's for after work. Instead have a cool glass of water or seltzer.

Dehydration can result in fatigue. According to the medical profession, consistently drinking less than six to eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids a day, can result in a lack energy all the time.

Studies show caffeine such as in a cup of coffee can boost energy, although you don't want to over do it.

Avoid sugary drinks, such as soda or juice, as they may have the opposite effect, and instead lead to more fatigue.

5
Take a Break

woman relaxing in chair with hands behind her head
Kick back and relax to regain energy. Westend61/Getty Images

Trying to power through an energy slump can be detrimental to your level of productivity, concentration, and mood. As a result, sometimes it's better to take a short breather from your work. In a study conducted at Louisiana State University and published in Computers and Industrial Engineering, the researchers found that "workers who took four breaks per hour, usually just 30 seconds each, followed by a 14-minute break after two hours of sitting at the computer, reported higher performance and worked faster and more accurately than their co-workers."

A popular work/break system is the Pomodoro technique, in which you work in 25 minute segments, with short breaks. The idea is that this will help you avoid fatigue in the first place.

6
Get Some Natural Light

hand outstretched in the sunlight
Let the sunshine in and boost your mood. Libertad Leal Photography/Getty Images

I can't work without natural light, so my desk is purposefully set near a window. But even near a window, you might benefit from the effects sunshine. According to WebMD, "research confirms that just a few minutes of walking outside on a warm, clear day enhances mood, memory, and the ability to absorb new information." So go stand outside for a few minutes and soak in some rays or open up your blinds and let the light in.

7
Get Social

Woman talking on the phone with friend
Chat with a friend to perk you up!. GlobalStock/Getty Images

While social media can be a great source of connecting and boosting energy, a better option is to call a friend for a chat. 

8
Clean Up

Get dressed to perk up.
Get dressed to perk up. Credit: Tara Moore | Getty Images

I'm not called the Pajama Mama for nothing, but sometimes, a shower and changing out of PJs or sweats can have a positive effect on energy.

You can still comfortable (no nylons or ties required), but getting dressed, combing your hair, and other grooming activities can wake you up and make you feel like less of a frump.

9
Hang out with a Pet

woman petting dog
Boost mood by giving your pet some attention. Trevor Adeline/Caiaimage/Getty Images

WebMD lists all sorts of health benefits to pet ownership, including boosting mood. Petting your cat or dog, or whatever pet you have, especially if it loves you back, can make you feel better. Further, the tactile sensation that goes with petting can make you feel calm, thereby reducing stress that can sometimes cause fatigue. 

10
Take a Nap

woman taking a nap on couch
Rejuvenate your energy with a power nap. JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

The topic of this post is about staying awake, but sometimes a power nap of 5 to 20 minutes is the best way to re-energize. It must work, since much of Europe is famous for it's daily afternoon siestas. 

If you think a nap is a sign of laziness or too indulgent, consider this: The Mayo Clinic reports the benefit to naps include relaxation, reduced fatigue, increased alertness, and improved mood. 

I confess, I have a daybed in my office and I take nap nearly every afternoon after lunch. It's 20 to 30 minutes long, and afterwards, I'm alert, energized and focused to work again.

What Works for You?

The above tips are suggestions, but not the only options to perk you up when you're drooping. You may need to try other ideas, such as eating or smelling peppermint, acupressure, play with the kids, play a video game, etc. Updated 2016 Leslie Truex