Sometimes, we need to stay awake, but it can seem impossible, and your body is telling you to sleep. Tempting though it might be, there are times when we absolutely have to remain awake. This can often be for incredibly important reasons. Perhaps you have a job, or a life event that simply means you must recover your senses and be alert and awake.
This guide will help you do so.
It is important to take regular breaks and move around for a few minutes regularly throughout the day. The power of movement to stimulate the mind to be alert is very significant. Movement is one of the simplest but most compelling ways to restore a sense of dynamism to your mind as well as your body and it will help you resist the temptation to drop off.
Regular breaks from sitting, for example, or from lying down on the sofa, are really essential. If it is not nighttime, or not a time you should be asleep, then do not lie down for long!
Even Simple Things
Simple movement is often enough to stop you from falling asleep. It can be something as straightforward as walking around a room, for example.
Stretching is another brilliant way to resist the temptation to fall asleep. You should always stretch when you feel tired, as it will help wake up muscles and mind together.
Even more simply, taking a few really deep long breaths can help you recover a sense of energy, as the air and blood circulate into your muscles.
These three headlines are useful: moving; stretching; breathing. Used well in combination, they will help you stay awake.
Almost nothing beats fresh air. When we are outdoors we feel fresher and more energized. It is elemental to being human. Even a short brisk walk can work wonders in awakening the senses and in restoring a sense of purpose to the day. It is one of the true natural tonics to the body and the mind both at once.
Outdoor air, even in the garden, stimulates the mind as you are immediately aware of a wider range of stimuli: air, heat, cold, scents, noises. These are the stimuli that keep us alert. In addition, because you are in public there is also the stimulation of other people and a far wider range of visual distractions to ensure you do not feel so tired.
Practice simple stretching exercises
Stretching is something we should all try to incorporate into our daily life. It has many benefits, including making us feel better about our bodies and therefore more purposeful.
Some simple stretches can make a huge difference. Try the following, as they are easy to do wherever you are, even if you are sitting at work.
- Shoulder rolls, moving the shoulders around
- Neck rolls, moving the neck forwards and round and then doing so again in the opposite direction
- Leg swings. These can be brilliantly effective in reminding you of the power of movement.
All stretching increases blood flow to the brain and helps to relax tense muscles, meaning you feel less tired and sluggish. In fact, stretching can be better than caffeine!
Engage in physical activities such as running or biking
Running, biking, swimming, or taking part in sports like tennis, can be amazing in helping you stay focused and awake.
They increase your heart rate and get your body talking to itself again. This is because they cause the body to produce adrenaline and endorphins, both of which can help to keep you energized and alert. Additionally, the dopamine released during physical activity can increase focus and boost your overall energy levels.
If you have a lunch break and the weather is sensible, get out there! Make a habit of it, and you will feel so much more energized.
Make Lifestyle Changes
Drink plenty of water
Water is really the elixir of life. Nothing really survives without it, including you!
Hydration is essential if you are to have a well-functioning system and the right energy levels. Your body needs regular stimulation on the inside too.
Dehydration is one of the main causes of fatigue, headaches, lassitude and tiredness and if you look at your routines and wonder why you’re tired a lot, it may very well be solved by drinking better, and drinking more water.
Improve your sleep hygiene
Sleep hygiene is a relatively new concept, but it is a wise one. In a nutshell, it’s all about the habits and practices that can improve your sleep quality.
For instance, you can try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, as this will help keep your circadian rhythm in check. You should also aim for 7-9 hours of shut eye each night and limit your caffeine intake, especially in the evening. Many suggest not having caffeine after 2.00 p.m. as it stays in the body for up to eight hours.
It’s also critical in the modern age to limit your exposure to screens and electronics at night, so try and resist the urge to scroll your social media feed right before bed.
Additionally, try to find a comfortable sleep environment with a dark and cool temperature. Many mattresses are now very cleverly made to respond to your body, and may be worth investigating. Do not think that all mattresses are pretty much the same. They’re not!
Limit your intake of caffeine
So important! Caffeine is one the drugs that keeps us awake, and while that may be something you would want to take if being awake is necessary, it is not the habit to rely on above all others. It will stimulate you, but if you then want to get to sleep an hour later, it will then disrupt your rhythms.
Naturally present in tea, coffee and chocolate, it is actually not a harmful substance in moderation, but you would be wise to keep control of your intake and not overload. Ultimately, the thing that will most assist you is a good bodily rhythm of sleep and activity, and caffeine can disturb the routines of your body.
Reduce stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety can be powerful contributors to feeling tired. You want to escape them, so you curl up and persuade yourself you are very tired. It’s natural, but it’s not healthy.
One key approach is to make sure we are taking regular breaks throughout the day. This can help us to give our minds and bodies an opportunity to relax and reset, enabling us to stay awake and feel more energized.
Mindfulness, yoga, pilates and stretching can all also be used to enable the body to feel less filled with anxiety and they can ensure it feels more robust and ready for life.
In addition, do not be too hard on yourself emotionally. Be kind to yourself. Too often, stress comes from worries that are counterproductive. Do not get into a doom loop, because that can make you exhausted and want to shut down from life. Stay positive! Keep moving forward!
Avoid alcohol or ‘energy’ drinks
Be careful with drinks that say they will energize you. They may offer a quick zip, but it will soon wear off, so unless you are absolutely desperately in need of immediate energy, try to make more substantive changes to enable you to feel less tired.
The same is true of alcohol. It is a depressive drug, and will eventually lower your spirits. Limit your intake of it and you will feel lighter and more energetic.
Stimulate Your Senses
Listen to music that energizes you
Music is a great help in staying awake. It is also something that allows you to have personal autonomy over your emotional state, which is in itself a good thing.
That said, you are probably best picking some upbeat tunes, or something that makes you want to dance or sing along.
Light a candle or essential oil diffuser
These are well-tried approaches. Lighting a scented candle, or putting on an essential oil diffuser, not only adds a pleasant smell to your environment, but it also creates a calming atmosphere that can help to reduce stress and fatigue. Moreover, if you’re feeling particularly sleepy, a few deep breaths of the scents can also act as a natural stimulant. Lovely smells often make us perkier as we feel positive when we scent something beautiful and attractive. Senses like that actually make us want to smell them more and more. Though they may also relax us, they also keep us alert.
Create a stimulating environment with natural light
To stay awake, you need to create a stimulating environment. One of the best ways to do this is with bright or natural light. If you’re feeling drowsy, control the lighting in your environment by turning on extra lights or opening windows for natural light. Natural light is the optimum light for us to feel stimulated. Let it into your life and your rooms. It will unequivocally help you feel more alert and committed to staying awake.
Consume snacks that give you a boost of energy
Energy snacks can be a better option than fizzy drinks, and not so disruptive of the rest of our day.
Low-fat Greek yogurt with trail mix is a good option. As are almost all fruits. Try a banana or some dried fruit and nuts. A carrot is also a good thing to nibble on, and you will also be aided by a glass of fruit juice. In addition, there are many fruit and energy bars available with a burst of protein in them. These too can help you stay awake.
Talking to others and engaging in meaningful conversations is always a tactic to use. Remember, we are social animals. We like to talk and interact, and we are made for it.
Don’t be afraid to call someone, text someone, or move around the office looking for someone to chat with, or even gossip with! These are all natural activities.We need others, remember, so do not be shy about reaching out and linking up for a talk with a friend, colleague, or even your barista!
Once the chat is flowing, you’ll feel revived.
Use Energy Supplements
Try natural energy supplements
Natural energy supplements such as green tea and ginseng are excellent. Green teas are wonder-workers! They will absolutely revive your energy levels.
Not only will these drinks give you a natural energy boost, but they may also provide added health benefits. Green tea is rich in antioxidants, while ginseng can help to increase circulation, improve overall mental clarity, and provide a feeling of alertness.
Other options are available, so look around for interesting flavored teas that can add to your sense of alertness and mental wellbeing.
Take short power naps to recharge yourself
Short power naps of around 10-20 minutes can actually help improve alertness and cognitive performance. So long as you do not let yourself drift into a deeper sleep, they can be extremely useful.
Significant research has shown that power naps can also help improve your mood, increase reaction time, reduce fatigue, and boost your overall energy levels. If you can keep it to around 15 minutes, you will actually be much more alert within five minutes or so of awakening again.
Consider taking medication if necessary
There are plenty of meds out there to assist in keeping you awake. They are of course fine to use, within reason, and your pharmacist will advise you. But try not to be reliant on them. If you are consistently tired, try to build in some better longer term approaches like those we have outlined above.