We’ve all been there, struggling to keep our eyes open and our heads from slamming unceremoniously on our desks in the afternoons. The Spanish totally have it right with their siesta. If you’re not fortunate enough to be able to take a siesta, here are some tips to help you manage daytime sleepiness, especially while at work.
Coffee is a great source of caffeine which is a stimulant that triggers increased activity in the nervous system and brain. This activity boost keeps sleepiness at bay and improves your mental performance. Just make sure you don’t take too much coffee because it can induce insomnia, make your heart race, and even give you shakes in your extremities.
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One way to combat sleepiness is by moving. Get up from your workstation and move around a little bit. Walk, stretch, shake your arms, legs, and body, and maybe talk to a few colleagues before going back to your desk.
If your job involves a variety of different tasks, switch up your tasks when sleepiness strikes. It may just be that your brain is bored from the monotony of doing the same task. Instead of forcing yourself to stay at a project that you’re no longer engaged in and excited about, switch it up.
Working for long hours in silence can be boring. Listening to bubbly, upbeat music can help pump you up, keeping sleepiness at bay. If you have shared offices, invest in earphones for such boring, sleepy afternoons.
Having a heavy lunch can easily cause daytime sleepiness. High-calorie meals like sodas, sugary snacks, white bread, pasta, and other carbohydrates are the absolute worst and should be avoided at all costs. Go instead for a light lunch that will keep your energy up such as vegetables, whole grains, chicken, berries, and nuts.
If you have windows in your work area, open them and let the light and breeze in. Sunlight can increase alertness and energy chasing away sleepiness. If there are no big open windows, you can add extra yellow or fluorescent lights to your work area.
This one is an oldie but a goldie, splash water on your face and stand by an open breezy window. That’ll wake you up. Cold water triggers increased blood flow which boosts alertness.
Turn on a fan
If you struggle with daytime sleepiness, consider investing in a fan, even a small desk one. When you’re feeling sleepy, point it in your direction and turn it on full blast. The cool air increases your alertness.
Daytime sleepiness can sometimes be intensified by too much downtime. If your job has too much downtime, find other things to do that would pass muster and make you look like you’re being a productive worker. For example, if you have a desk job where you finish your tasks early, take an afternoon class on something you’re interested in, or read an interesting book, if you can get away with it.
You can always choose to stop fighting it. This is only for the lucky few who are either working from home or have their own offices with doors they can lock as they catch a 15–30-minute nap. Just make sure the nap doesn’t exceed 30 minutes.
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