Fight the Addiction: 7 Ways to Stay Awake Without Caffeine
Americans’ dependence on caffeine has become somewhat of an ongoing joke. Pictures of coffee cups flood Facebook and Instagram newsfeeds, #coffeeaddict is frequently trending on Twitter, and no one bats an eye when a coworker demands something along the lines of: “Don’t talk to me until I have my coffee.”
The desire for caffeine in the morning is something we all can agree on, but what happens when we take things too far? Caffeine addiction is a controversial topic, but many experts agree that regardless of whether one can be formally diagnosed with a caffeine addiction, consumers can experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms and develop an unhealthy dependence on caffeine.
But how do you determine if you can function effectively without your caffeine fix in the morning? Many people never know because they never give a coffee-less morning a try. They’re worried their productivity levels will drop, they’ll fall asleep at work, they won’t be able to make it through the day — but they’ll never know unless they try. If you’re trying to survive without coffee, there are ways to stay awake without the caffeine, and even ease yourself off your dependence.
Many consumers mistakenly believe that the only way to stay alert during the work day is to refill their coffee cup, but luckily, they are wrong. Here are seven things you can do to stay awake and productive without relying on caffeine to do the work for you. It might be intimidating at first, but after awhile, you may not even crave that 7:00 a.m. cup of Joe, or that 3:00 p.m. pick-me-up.
1. Stand Up to Wake Up
One of the number one things you can do to stay awake and alert during your 9-5 shift is to work standing up. For a lot of employees, we know that’s easier said than done, as they don’t have an adjustable or stand-up desk; however, you can always improvise by making your own desk or standing at a counter top.
Sitting for long periods of time can induce drowsiness, and it can also tempt you to slouch in your chair, welcoming fatigue even more. According to Vista Health Solutions, standing not only keeps you awake and upright, it also stimulates your metabolism to help you burn calories throughout the day. Even if you can’t stand for the entirety of your eight-hour shift, alternating between standing and sitting can keep you alert, keep your metabolism burning, and keep you from dozing off. We’d also be remiss if we didn’t highlight the many studies that evidence the health risks employees face from sitting all day, day in and day out, but that’s a story for a different day.
Another way to keep those eyes open: keep a water bottle near you. Hydration is key to staying awake and alert because dehydration can cause fatigue. That’s why it’s important to always have water handy, and also to make sure you eat foods with high water contents such as fruits and vegetables.
In addition, consuming lots of liquids will inevitably keep you moving around because it’ll make you take walk breaks to go to the restroom. Keeping a full bladder will always keep you more uncomfortable and less likely to zone out or doze off.
Next up: keep your mouth moving to keep your eyes open. Another way to stay awake sans caffeine is to snack your way through the day. Large meals can make you drowsy, so instead of eating a gluttonous meal during your lunch hour that will put you in a carb coma, try eating smaller meals and then engaging yourself with healthy snacks throughout the day to maintain your energy. Not only can healthy snacks give you the vitamins and nutrients you need to stay awake, they can also keep your hands and mouth occupied, keeping you from lounging back in your office chair and giving in to some sleep.
Health.com shares five energy-boosting snacks that can be your secret to staving off the afternoon slump and they include 1/2 cup sliced banana with 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 4 whole-grain crackers with 1 tablespoon of hummus, 1/4 cup dried fruit and nuts, 6 ounces of plain nonfat yogurt mixed with 1 tablespoon granola, and a whole grain, high-protein bar.
4. Listen to Music
While you’re keeping your mouth engaged, you might as well keep your ears engaged, too. Experts say that listening to music while you work can help keep you awake and increase your concentration levels. According to Well Aware, music triggers an emotional response in humans, helping to engage various parts of the brain. If you’re looking for a playlist to resort to when you’re tired, studies evidence that listening to unfamiliar music is actually more effective than listening to familiar tunes. Although many believe that listening to loud music will keep you awake, Well Aware says it’s actually quieter music that forces you to focus on the instrumentals, lyrics, and percussion, keeping your brain stimulated.
5. Light Exercise Breaks
Walking around can also keep your brain and body stimulated, and a quick walk to the water fountain or bathroom can spike your energy levels more than you realize. Simply moving your legs and experiencing a change in scenery can be enough to boost your energy, and LiveCareer.com says that studies show taking a 20 minute walk can boost your energy levels and decrease fatigue. You don’t have to power walk to see benefits, as low-impact exercise tests better than higher impact exercise for fatigue levels, but any kind of movement is better than nothing.
In addition, you can also consider getting in some exercise during your lunch break at work, whether it entails you visiting your office gym, or simply going for a long walk or run on a path near your office building. Though you may think you’re too tired to exercise at noon after sitting all morning, regular exercise has been shown to increase energy levels because any exercise or physical activity that gets the heart rate up and the blood flowing and releases endorphins is going to raise your energy level. What’s more, according to Web MD, in an analysis of 70 studies involving more than 6,800 people, University of Georgia researchers found that exercise was more effective in increasing energy and reducing daytime fatigue than some medications used to treat sleep problems.
6. Chew Ice or Gum
On deck for No. 6: chewing ice or gum to stave off afternoon fatigue. Pick your poison, and then if you decide to chew ice, pick where you sit at work, because your coworkers might hate you. But it may be worth it, because keeping your mouth engaged with ice or gum can also help keep your eyes open. In the case of ice, it’s almost impossible to fall asleep chewing the cold stuff because the chilling temperature will keep your brain stimulated, whether you like it or not. Chewing anything causes your body to think about what it’s about to eat, making it prepare for food intake by releasing insulin, which will make you more alert.
In the case of gum, chewing a piece of gum can keep you awake due to the stimulation of your facial muscles causing an increase in blood flow to the head. In addition, because chewing is not an involuntary muscle movement like breathing or blinking, it slightly stimulates the brain, which helps you stay awake.
7. Avoid the Heat
Lastly, when you’re drowsy, you should try to avoid getting overheated at work, as exposure to heat can trigger fatigue. As we mentioned with ice chewing, when you’re cold, your body has to work hard to regulate your temperature, and this in turn will keep you stimulated. Wiki How says that your body needs to regulate your internal temperature to keep all of its organs functioning, so if it detects ice or extreme cold, it will work to keep itself awake longer. Splash cold water on your face to keep yourself alert, or take off your sweater or jacket to stay on the chilly side. Open a window or put on a small fan, pointed at your face. It might be uncomfortable, but it’ll do the job of keeping you awake without that caffeine.