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Falling asleep at work: 5 tips to stay awake

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Some useful tips to avoid that embarrassing situation and keep your caffeine levels at a healthy level.

Falling asleep at work happens. And it’s not a dream situation. Your eyelids begin to weigh, your computer screen becomes blurry and your head begins to nod off. Worst case scenario: you collapse on the desk, drawing the attention of all your colleagues and your boss. But fortunately, that is something you can prevent with a bunch of tips you can easily apply – unless your job is to be a mattress tester.




How to stay awake

You're probably thinking about coffee right now, aren't you? Well, it may seem like the most obvious solution: it's stimulating, it boosts your energy almost immediately and sometimes it tastes good! But it can also be dangerous. According to the Mayo Clinic, four cups of coffee a day can cause side effects like migraine headache, irritability, fast heartbeat and muscle tremors. It's not worth it. So if you want to avoid falling asleep at work without compromising your health, just keep reading.


Stay active

Sitting for several hours in a row doing the same activity can trigger a feeling of drowsiness. A good solution is to take activity breaks every few hours. This doesn't mean you have to exercise as if you were in the gym – although it's not a bad option: a simple walk around your workplace can be enough, as movement improves blood flow and keeps your brain alert. If possible, go outside in daylight to regulate your circadian rhythms.


Talk to somebody

“I get by with a little help from my friends”. Or colleagues, so to speak. Having a conversation of at least five minutes with one of your co-workers awakens alert levels and breaks the monotony. It works better when the topic isn't about work and it's done face-to-face away from the desk.


Eat snacks

Yawning? You might just be hungry. Or maybe you really need to keep your blood sugar levels steady. Snacks are a good way to get that extra energy you need, especially if you remember to eat some every two or three hours. Stay away from drinks with added sugar, energy bars or junk food and go for healthier choices. Some ideas to inspire you: granola, yogurt, fresh fruit or, nut mix


Drink your water

Dehydration can cause fatigue and problems focusing, according to the Journal of Nutrition. So sometimes a good glass of water can be more effective than a cup of coffee in keeping attention. Get a reusable water bottle and fill it at least twice a day; it not only boosts your hydration, but it will make you get up more times to visit the bathroom and get more exercise. Two birds with one stone.


Play some music

Just as there is music to fall asleep, there is also music to stay awake. The most energizing genres are those related to rock, pop and electronic music, as long as they are not monotonous. If you use headphones, keep in mind that turning up the volume may prevent you from falling asleep at work, but it will also affect your hearing.



More than tired

All right, you already have the remedies to avoid falling asleep at work. But have you thought about what’s causing that tiredness? It can be something occasional, like those drinks after work that got too long, or binge-watching the last season of the trendiest tv show, or a crying baby next door. But when sleep deprivation becomes persistent, there may be other important reasons to consider.

Sleep disorders, like EDS (Excessive Daytime Sleepiness) or sleep apnea are the most frequent causes of disrupted sleep, and are not so obvious like traditional insomnia. So if you feel tired all the time, a visit to the doctor may be necessary. But also a poor diet or stress can be contributing factors to tiredness, so keep an eye on that.

But we have good news. Recent studies have shown that taking a nap at work can improve productivity, improving cognitive function, short-term memory, reaction times and mood. So if your job allows it, don't hesitate to close your eyes when your body asks you to. However, for the effects to be felt, the nap must have a certain duration. Falling asleep at work, oh yes!



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