10 ways to stay awake (without the drugs)

July 2, 2010 by Merlin

The deadline is near. It doesn’t matter if it’s a website development, an exam, a marketing strategy or a science paper – you’re too tired to sit and type anymore. Coffee’s gone and it had no effect at all. You’re afraid that taking something stronger could get you see more colors than there is in the color spectrum. If you need to squeeze few more hours, here’s what you can try.

Does this happen often to you?

Does this happen often to you?

  1. Sit upright – It may not be the most comfortable position, but being comfortable and sleepy leads to falling asleep (not a real brainer, right? ;)).
  2. User a different chair – If the above cannot be maintained by sheer willpower, change your environment. Get a simple chair with no back-rest or a pilates ball.
  3. Aerate – Get up, stretch, walk to the window and open it. It may be just that the oxygen level is low. Stay by the window for a few minutes and then get back to work.
  4. Light up – Darkness will push you toward sleep even more. Light up everything around you. Move the curtains aside if it’s daylight or bring every lamp in you office or home to your desk. MAKE it a daylight. What do you think how people in Scandinavia are fighting darkness? Exactly like this.
  5. Music – Play some music that will get you motivated. Not lullabies, try some hard rock, dance, even metal if you’re into it. Neighbors will understand.
  6. Play with some real object – This really helps me if my vision is blurry and I feel dreamy after looking at a screen and “virtual stuff” too much. Sit away from the computer, take any small object (except your cell phone, scissors or a kitchen knife). Close your eyes and try to feel the object between your fingers. Concentrate on its texture, hardness and temperature. Open your eyes and look at it. Try to look at it as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Focus on details, overall shape and color. Engage other senses too. Smell it. Shake it or tap it and listen to the sounds. After a few minutes of being in a real world instead being in “the cloud”, you should feel more focused and aware. Use it because it won’t last forever.
  7. Candy – Although excessive sugar and prolonged sitting can have a devastating effect on your figure, Snickers bar (or your other favorite brand) is a life-saver in a situation like this. Simple sugars will give you the kick-start you need.
  8. Take a walk – Take a half-hour break and go for a walk. If it’s a bad weather outside, even better. The goal is not to enjoy the sunny spring, so rain and wind will open your sleepy eyes more quickly.
  9. Exercise – If you have some space and co-workers won’t object, do some squats, lunges and push-ups. Yeah, I know that you don’t want to get up and work out when tired, but believe me, you’ll feel MUCH better even after just a few minutes of this.
  10. Cold shower – A real eye-opener. No explanation needed. If a shower isn’t available, try washing your face and neck over a bathroom sink.

If these ten things can’t keep you awake – go to sleep. Really. Whatever you’re working on probably isn’t that important to sacrifice your health. At least you’ll be fresh and rested in the morning and you’ll come to report you’re behind schedule with a smile.

Do you know some other ways to stay awake?