Young woman at computer tired at work.

If you’ve been in the workforce, it’s reasonable to assume that you’ve felt tired at work at some point. Maybe you had a conference over the weekend, or perhaps a big celebration. For whatever reason, you now find yourself barely able to keep your eyes open at your place of work. If you’re currently struggling in this situation, we have some tips to help you prevent it from happening again. 

1. Get More Sleep

The first tip on this list is of course what you expected- get more sleep! The level of sleep you get greatly impacts your productivity at work. Being well rested is crucial to doing your best work. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a certain number of hours of sleep based on your age. Check out the infographic below for specifics.

Another important but little known factor affecting sleep is sleep cycles. An easy way of understanding sleep cycles is to know that they involve all of the different states of sleep that we go through. In total , with all processes accounted for, they usually last from 70 – 100 minutes. Generally, most adults have sleep cycles lasting 90 minutes. The reason you feel groggy and grumpy when you wake up isn’t due to lack of sleep. It’s because you woke up in the middle of a sleep cycle. If you are able to time your waking up to be at the end of a cycle, you will wake up refreshed. There are many apps, and alarms to help you plan your sleep schedule accordingly.

2. You are What You Eat (and Drink)

Another large variable that can make you feel tired at work is food and drink. We’ve all heard the term ‘food coma’ used after a big meal. What you may not know is that a food coma is scientifically acknowledged as postprandial somnolence. While the reasons for it are not universally accepted, it is agreed that a big meal can make you feel sluggish. Have meals that are appropriately sized and healthy to give you a burst of energy instead of tiring you out. It’s also important to make sure you’re drinking enough water. Dehydration can cause headaches and drowsiness as well. Keep a water bottle on your desk to refill for the day.

3. Coffee & Caffeine

You probably guessed that coffee would make the list- but it’s not for the reason you might think. While coffee does act as a stimulant, if you are a constant coffee drinker, those effects will be lost on you. If you truly want it to work, drink it with less cream and sugar. Another option is to drink it less overall, and only have a cup when you need the extra energy. The same goes for other caffeinated beverages. You should also try not to have coffee after 2 pm.

If you drink a cup past that point, the caffeine may remain in your system when you are trying to sleep. In another words, don’t drink coffee late in the day, or it may eat away at the quality of your sleep- back to square one. It’s also important not to overdo it- too much caffeine will give you headaches. Nobody wants to be both grumpy and tired at work.

4. Check Your Environment

A feeling of sleepiness could also be a byproduct of your work environment. It’s much easier to fall asleep if you’re in a warm room in an extremely comfortable chair. Try to find a temperature that is comfortably cool to keep you alert. Also, consider a standing desk, or at least get up and stretch when necessary. We’ll discuss more about the importance of being up and about in our last step.

5. Layout a Plan

If you’re someone who ‘goes with the flow’ when planning out your day, you are setting yourself a sleepy trap for later in the day. If you don’t have a task to focus on you’ll be distracted. This makes it that much easier to notice the heaviness of your eyelids. A good way to fight back is to start out with smaller, accomplish-able tasks. These will keep you focused, and you will gain momentum, after which you can move on to any more daunting and complex projects.

6. Listen to Music

The benefits of listening to music at work have been scientifically recognized in multiple studies. It allows you to focus on tasks better, and even work better with others. However, different types of music are better for different tasks. Depending on your environment, and the nuances of your work, different genres may be better. Check out this straightforward and simple quiz that will prescribe you with a dose of genre relevant work tunes.

7. Get Up and Move!

Lastly, get up and move! If you’re cooped up in an office or a cubicle, it’s incredibly important not only for your energy levels, but your overall health that you move around. Get up, stretch, maybe even consider going for a walk on your lunch break. Movement will get your blood pumping to the rest of your body, and make you feel more awake and energetic.

We hope these steps help keep you energetic and productive at work in the future! Being tired at work isn’t fun for anyone, not you or your employer. Do you have any tips or tricks that keep you alert and awake at work? If so please share!