We’ve all been there. You’re trying to focus on work and suddenly your eyelids feel heavy and you have the overwhelming urge to put your head down on your desk. Then you look up at the clock and it’s only noon and you realize that you have five more hours before you can go home and take a nap.
It’s no fun being tired, but there are some ways to trick your brain into feeling more awake so you can power through your day and be the most productive person you can be.
Of course, there’s no substitute for sleep. In a study from SleepHealth.org, researchers found that at least 70% of adults in America don’t get enough sleep at least once a month, and 11% of adults get insufficient sleep every night. Getting between seven and nine hours of sleep per night truly is vitally important to leading a happy, healthy, and productive life. So, set your bedtime and stick to it. Don’t binge that last episode of Sex/Life on Netflix. Get in your bed, pull up the covers, and make sure you’re well-rested for the next day.
On top of just getting to bed on time, your diet and exercise routine has been proven to have a major effect on your sleep patterns. While you might think that exercising would make you more tired during the day, it actually has the opposite effect. Exercising engages the mind and makes you feel more awake, and it even makes you sleep better at night. Maintaining a diet that’s high in lean proteins and nutrient-dense foods will also help you stay awake during the day and will help you get to sleep easier.
However, these are all long-term lifestyle adjustments and regardless of whether you make them or not, everyone has those days when they just can’t keep their eyes open. So, here are seven brain hacks that will help you feel less tired immediately and help you power through your day.
Drink That Coffee
It’s the oldest trick in the book, but it really does work. If drinking coffee or tea in the morning is already part of your routine, don’t skip it. Having a cup of coffee or tea before 2:00 p.m. will make the mind feel more awake for the rest of the day. Tea actually seems to be the better option here, though, as it offers a sustained release of caffeine throughout the day whereas coffee gives you a quick jolt of energy all at once.
Regardless of whether you choose to go British-style and drink tea or go American-style and have a cup of joe, 2:00 p.m. should be your cutoff time. Drinking caffeinated beverages after that will likely make you feel jittery and make it harder to fall asleep that night, thus getting you into a vicious cycle of sleeplessness.
Drink More Water
Alright, so drinking coffee and lots of water sounds like a great way to be running to the bathroom every few minutes, but drinking water really is essential to feeling awake and energetic.
Many people aren’t conscious of how much water they’re taking in and they go to get a drink of water only when they’re feeling dehydrated. However, being dehydrated can cause fatigue and weariness, make you lose concentration, cause headaches, and even make you feel less happy.
According to MayoClinic.org, the average adult man should be drinking about 3.7 liters of water per day (or about one gallon per day) and the average adult woman should have around 2.7 liters per day (or about three quarts per day).
Get yourself a water bottle and keep refilling it throughout the day. Make a habit of filling up your bottle every time you go to the bathroom. Sure, you might have to pee more often, but you’ll feel awake and ready to take on your day.
Take a Walk
In a study from the University of Georgia, they found that 10 minutes of walking up and down stairs was more likely to make someone feel awake than ingesting 50 milligrams of caffeine. So, if you find yourself feeling tired during your day, stand up and go for a walk. It’ll get the blood moving in your body and your brain and will make you feel more lively almost instantly.
If you work in an office and you usually order lunch in, try going for a walk down the block to pick up your food instead. Getting out in the sunlight is another great way to make yourself feel more awake, so you’ll be getting an extra boost on top of the energizing walk. Plus, walking is a great way to improve your health and get in better shape.
Stimulate Your Brain
If you feel yourself dozing off during the day, try doing something to stimulate your senses. Put on some interesting music to keep your mind engaged and focused. According to CNET.com, classical music and ambient music are the two best types of tunes for keeping your brain focused and free of distractions. Listening to nature sounds can also markedly improve your mood and make you feel less tired.
With that being said, if you really need a pick-me-up, maybe you’re better off jamming out to your favorite pop hit or punk rock anthem. Any kind of music that gets you pumped up is going to help you feel more energetic and keep pushing through that fatigue. Perhaps you could even lock yourself in the bathroom at the office and dance around for a few minutes. You’ll definitely feel a little bit goofy, but you’ll also feel far more awake afterward.
In general, having a clean and organized workspace makes it easier to focus and think clearly. However, having a workspace that’s cluttered can actually cause you to have more stress and expend unnecessary energy throughout the day, thus making you more tired.
Clean up your workspace, your home, your car, and everywhere else that you go during your day, and you’re guaranteed to feel more at ease and expend less energy on stressing out. Start by pulling everything out of your office or closet. Then sort them into what you need and don’t need. Trash what you don’t need, and put everything you do need into clean and organized compartments.
Once you get organized, stay organized. Making a daily effort to keep things tidy will prevent your clutter from ever getting out of hand.
Take a Cold Shower
Many of you reading this probably think that taking a cold shower sounds like the worst thing you could possibly do. However, that cold water will give you a jolt of adrenaline and will instantly make you feel more alert and more awake. Yes, you will be very uncomfortable for a few minutes, but it’s better than being uncomfortably tired for the rest of your day.
If you’re at the office or just don’t have the option to take a shower, try running some cold water in a sink and splashing it on your face and arms. This will also give you an adrenaline rush, though a smaller one than a cold shower, and will help you keep your eyes open.
One of the very best things to do if you’re feeling tired is to just stand up and do some stretching. It gets the circulation going in your body and will help more blood get to your brain, making you feel more focused and awake. Plus, it’s great for relieving tension in your muscles so you’ll have fewer aches and pains to distract you throughout your day.
You don’t have to do an entire yoga routine at your desk, although that would be even better. You can simply put your arms above your head and reach for the ceiling or stand up for a moment and try to touch your toes. It won’t make you an Olympic gymnast, but it will make you feel more awake for the time being.