Falling asleep at work: 23 tips to stay awake

Falling asleep at work: 23 tips to stay awake

Written by Mehran Uzair

Last Updated on Mar 13, 2023

In this article:

    An important deadline has cropped up, stretching your work time. Or it’s the dreaded night shift. Whatever your reasons are, falling asleep at work can be avoided with the help of a few simple tips! 

    As humans, our body’s natural clock is responsible for regulating our sleep and wake. These clocks are known as circadian rhythms and take care of our moods, behaviour, and more. Once the sun goes down and night takes over, our circadian rhythm releases melatonin, which makes us drowsy and prepares us for sleep. 

    Staying up late means going against this natural process. But don’t worry. We have the best tips for you. Read ahead!

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    Reasons For Falling Asleep At Work

    Feeling sleepy at work can result in an unproductive way, which just leads to more stress. Let’s understand all the common reasons for falling asleep at work. 

    A Bad Night’s Sleep 

    The loud music from the neighbouring house. A glass of wine that turned into a few glasses. Or maybe it was that one last episode of your favourite show. The reasons are plenty for why you may not enjoy a good night’s rest. When you don’t get a sufficient seven to nine hours of sleep every night, it can make you fall asleep at work. 

    Sometimes, sleepless nights may not be self-inflicted. Stress may be keeping you up, or it can be sleep disorders, such as insomnia.

    An Unbalanced Diet 

     Even after a good night’s rest, if you struggle to keep your eyes open at work, think back to the food you consume daily. A balanced meal is essential for your overall well-being. When essential nutrients go missing in your meals, you feel sluggish. For instance, iron deficiency could lead to tiredness and make you sleepy


    When you are bored, you can feel sleepy. The part that affects pleasure also affects drowsiness. This region is known as the nucleus accumbens. When not stimulated, your brain sends signals to fall asleep. Therefore, if you are getting too bored at work, take a five-minute break to do something you enjoy; it may wake you up!

    23 Tips to Stop Falling Asleep at Work

    Now, without any further ado, let’s unpack the tips on how to stop from falling asleep at work. 

    1. Stay Hydrated

    You reach out for a cup of coffee or tea when sleepiness takes hold. However, if you are dehydrated or haven’t consumed much water throughout the day, it will only make you sleepy. Therefore, try drinking a glass of water instead. 

    Now, we all know water is essential for our overall health. But did you know? According to The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, you need about 10 glasses of water daily because it is vital for proper brain functioning.   

    2. Turn Down the Temperature

    How to stop falling asleep? Keep the room cool while you are working because warm temperatures can make you sleepy. Warm temperature tends to regulate the body temperature, causing sweat, and it takes energy to complete this process. Therefore, your body doesn’t have to put in too much effort when the room is already cool. So, try cracking a window open. It is a simple trick but can help you out!

    3. Splash Cold Water on Your Face

    If you are falling asleep at your desk, just go and splash some cold water on your face because this helps with blood circulation. Also, the cold water shocks the system and makes you more alert. Instant burst of energy!

    4. Minimise Your Sugar Intake

    We have all heard that sugar gives you energy. But too much of it is not very good for you. Why? Well, you might have also heard about something known as the sugar rush. Here, you feel a sudden jolt of energy. However, that doesn’t last very long. It settles down quickly and drains you of all your energy. This elevation can make you feel more sleepy and lethargic. So, one way not to fall asleep at the desk is to snack on something healthy. 

    5. Give Yourself a Break

    When our computer is overheated, we tend to restart it to ensure it offers optimal performance. The same trick can work with the brain. Sometimes, a quick 10 to 15 minutes break can help you out. In fact, one time management technique known as Pomodoro Technique tells you to work for 25 minutes and take a break for five minutes. 

    However, always set the alarm when you are taking a break. You wouldn’t want to overdo it. Taking regular breaks is good for maintaining efficiency. 

    6. Start With the Easiest Tasks First

    The best way to start your day is to complete the easiest tasks first. Check your emails, reply to messages, finish your research work, etc. Completing these tasks and checking them off your lists can also motivate you. And once you have settled in and have a sharp focus, get the main tasks done. Easy!

    7. Eat Healthy Snacks

    If you are wondering how to stop yourself from falling asleep, munch on something healthy. You can eat fruit, nuts, crackers, trail mix, and more. 

    8. Eat an Energising Lunch

    When you are at work, lunchtime always seems to be the best time. It not only gives you some much-needed break but also satiates your tastebuds. However, it may not be the best choice if you are in the mood for pizza or a juicy burger.

    Consuming carb-rich food drains your energy and leaves you tired and sleepy. So, the next time you need to choose your lunch, opt for something healthy. 

    9. Get Social

    Mingling with your co-workers can be a great way how not to fall asleep. This becomes especially true if you are an extrovert or work remotely. So, chat with your friend or co-worker from time to time or head over to a cafe or a co-working space to ensure the environment is lively. 

    10. Play Some Lively Music

    If you are looking for ways how to not fall asleep at work, music may be the answer. Just plug in your headphones and listen to something upbeat. If you are into classical music, that’s even better because music helps you absorb and interpret new information quickly and enhances your focus

    11. Go For a Walk

    Maybe you have tried all the above-mentioned techniques. But if you still want to crawl under the bed, taking a walk can be beneficial. It doesn’t have to be something rigorous. Just whenever you feel like you are falling asleep at the computer, take a short walk as it gets your blood flowing optimally and releases a jolt of energy. If you think you will waste your time by taking a walk, always schedule it in your calendar. For instance, as you write your To-Do list, you can pen down a few minutes for walks between your chores. 

    12. Massage Pressure Points

    The area about your wrist is a pressure point. Press it and give it a massage in circular motions, as it can give you a boost of energy. Such an easy trick, but super effective!

    13. Take a Power Nap

    Did you know? Albert Einstein was a fan of power naps. So, you can do it too. Power naps can give you the necessary rest and help you wake up with your focus back on track. The optimal length of your nap should, however, not exceed 20 to 40 minutes. However, the best time for a nap is between 1 PM to 4 PM. 

    14. Brighten Up Your Workspace

    A lively workspace may make you feel energetic. It keeps you motivated and helps you stay awake at work. If you have a dull, boring desk, you can try brightening it up with a few knick-knacks. Maybe a table lamp and a few family photos could help you out. In fact, you can also try keeping blue light on your desk as it helps keep you alert. 

    15. Caffeinate

    You know, caffeine had to make the list. So, maybe a cup of coffee or tea as soon as you wake up may help you out. However, ensure you also drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. And avoid coffee late in the evening as caffeine can remain in the system for almost 10 hours. So, this can disrupt your sleep and make you groggy the next day. 

    16. Wake Yourself Up With Lively Scents

    How to stop falling asleep at work? Wake up smelling something energising. Did you know? Some scents like lavender can help you fall asleep peacefully, and a few like peppermint can help keep you awake. So maybe it is time to switch on your diffuser to ensure you stop nodding off at work. 

    17. Consider a Standing Desk

    You must have come across standing desks on social media pages that have gained immense popularity. So, if you are constrained to the desk and also maintain a sedentary lifestyle, a standing desk can help you out. Some of the benefits of a standing desk include;

    • Helps lower your blood sugar level 
    • Reduces the risk of heart disease 
    • Helps with lower back pain 
    • Improves your mood 

    You can alternate between the sitting desk and then the standing one. 

    18. Use a Body Doubling Tool

    We live in a tech-savvy era. Therefore, you have a solution for everything. Now, this solution may sound like something out of a novel. But you can use a body double tool. Here, you schedule a call with someone random from the body doubling tool. Tell them your intentions and schedule the call for an hour or so. On the call, you can mute them and go to work. And once you are done, you can give them a rundown of everything you accomplished. This works because there is someone to keep you company!

    19. Alternative Between Activities 

    If you are thinking I keep falling asleep at work, then try to make things exciting and switch things up. For instance, if you have a large task, break it into smaller tasks to make it more interesting and ensure it feels more doable. Focusing on one complete task for an extended time can lead to wandering focus. However, when you shift your concentration, it keeps your attention in check

    20. Medication 

    Today, there is medication for every need. So, if you want to know how to keep yourself from falling asleep? You can always speak with your doctor about stimulant medications. They are designed to sharpen your focus and remain alert

    21. Enjoy A Consistent Sleep Schedule 

    One of the main reasons why you experience daytime sleepiness is due to poor quality. Adults need about seven to nine hours of sleep every night. So, to achieve this, you must maintain a consistent sleep schedule. You must wake up and sleep at the same time. A regular sleep schedule also keeps your mind alert and lets you focus well during the day. 

    22. Deep Breathing 

    When you sit in a single place for a very long time, you cannot completely inflate the lungs. Therefore, practicing deep breathing every day increases the amount of oxygen in your system and reduces any tiredness. Even taking a short break and indulging in deep breathing for a few minutes can help you out. 

    23. Lifestyle Changes 

    While all the above tips help you stay awake, it is essential to make a few lifestyle changes to help you prevent sluggishness and fatigue. You can try to consume a healthy diet, regular exercise, consistent sleep, and more. 

    When you are too sleepy but are looking for ways to stay awake, try the above-mentioned tips for staying awake at work. From frequent breaks to power naps, see which works well for you. But if it becomes a regular problem, you must speak with your doctor immediately if you are suffering from a sleep disorder; a proper treatment plan will help you out.

    Disclaimer: This website does not offer medical advice nor professional medical services; rather, it is provided solely for educational, informational, and/or entertainment purposes. Individuals seeking medical advice should consult a licensed physician. The information provided should not be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition, disease, or injury. When you have a medical condition, you should always talk to licensed doctor or other certified medical professional. You should never delay seeking professional medical advice or treatment based on the contents of this website. Call 911 or immediately go to the nearest emergency room if you think you may have a medical emergency. The contents of this website are provided "as-is", Dreamcloud Sleep and its parent, subsidiaries, affiliates, employees, contributors disclaim any warranty of the information contained herein. Please contact support@dreamcloud.com to report any errors, omissions, misinformation, or abuse.
    {"faq":[{"_id":"d2370ba","title":"Is it normal to fall asleep during work?","content":"\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003ENo, it is not normal to fall asleep at work. If it is a frequent occurrence despite enjoying a good night\u2019s rest, it can be a sign of a sleep disorder or a vitamin deficiency. \u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E"},{"_id":"c52365d","title":"How do I stop falling asleep at work?","content":"\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003EYou can follow the above-mentioned things to do to not fall asleep. You can always try keeping yourself hydrated and try caffeine within limits or also take a power nap if time permits. \u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E"},{"_id":"4e84aea","title":"Why do I randomly fall asleep at work?","content":"\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003EOne of the main \u003C\/span\u003E\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.medicalnewstoday.com\/articles\/falling-asleep-randomly\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003Ereasons\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003E you keep falling asleep at work randomly is that you cannot enjoy quality sleep. However, a range of medical conditions, and environmental or lifestyle factors can contribute to it too. 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