How to keep yourself awake at work without caffeine

How to keep yourself awake at work without caffeine

Some days, I am just downright sleepy. Maybe it’s the late night writing, constant travel, or my busy social schedule in New York. But every so often, even with a good night’s sleep, I get to the middle of my day and I just feel ready for a nap. I find myself dozing off at the computer mid- Z z z. oh, sorry.

I suppose I could have coffee or an energy drink, but the caffeine makes me moody and just postpones my crash until later. Then I really feel like a snoozer. Well, whether or not you believe caffeine is healthy, there’s no need to ride the stimulant roller coaster. Here are a dozen surefire, natural ways I have found to wake up and feel revitalized.

1. Go Outside

All those florescent lights, computer screens, and conditioned air can take their toll. Go and spend 15 minutes walking around outside. Rain or shine, cold or hot, the fresh air and change of scenery will help you break the monotony of a sterile environment.

2. Get Physical

People might think you strange to start exercising in the middle of the office, but elevating that heartbeat will pump some oxygen through your body and right to your brain. Try jumping jacks, skipping rope or a little yoga. You can even go run up and down the office stairs. Just go until you break a little sweat.

3. Be a Brainiac

If you can’t stimulate your body, stimulate your brain. Try a crossword or play Sudoku. Better yet, grab a co-worker for a quick bout of Battleship so you get those competitive juices flowing.

4. Just Chill

Give yourself a brisk awakening. Try drinking super-cold ice water; add lemon. The more you drink the better. Splash a little on your face. You can also put ice against your wrists and temples, or suck on an ice cube.

5. Chow Down

A little mastication can actually wake you up, so have a snack. Avoid a heavy, carb-filled, sugary snack. Instead, choose an aromatic protein and a fruit. Try spicy beef jerky and some cucumbers with chili powder, or watermelon with a little cayenne pepper.

6. Pump Some Adrenaline

Nothing like a good fright to keep you alert and attentive. Watch some horror or action movie trailers to give you a nerve-shattering boost.

7. Move That Body

Perhaps the position in which you are sitting is a bit too relaxed. Reposition your chair. You can change it, sit in it backwards, cross your legs in the seat, or just remove it and stand up while you work.

8. Oil It Up

Keep a lotion or essential oil on your desk. Make sure it has a strong, bright scent like citrus, peppermint, or jasmine. Rub it on your hands and temples. If it’s real strong, put a little on your upper lip to awaken your senses and keep it from disturbing your neighbors. Stay away from lavender, though; it’s known to make you sleepy.

9. Dance! Dance! Dance!

Put on your headphones, punch up your favorite dance tunes and dance hard for five to 10 minutes. Sure some people may laugh at you, but the embarrassment will also help you wake up.

10. Make ’em Laugh!

Grab a co-worker and trade jokes for five minutes. The laughter releases endorphins and will get your body moving. If you don’t know any jokes, watch some funny videos to get things going.

11. Go Online Shopping

The rush of buying something new is always good for a perk up. Make an early birthday or Xmas list, or better yet, buy someone you like a gift. Thinking about doing something nice for someone else is sure to get your blood flowing.

12. Call Your Mom

It sounds strange, but a conversation with your mother is bound to wake you up. Possibly it’s the deep emotional connection to the woman who woke you for years. Regardless of your current relationship, either the stress or the charm of calling her will get you going. Besides, she probably thinks you don’t call her enough anyway, so it couldn’t hurt.

If these tips aren’t doing the job, perhaps it’s not sleep you lack but just more energy for your day. In that case, here are 10 ways to supercharge your energy at work.

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How to keep yourself awake at work without caffeine

How to keep yourself awake at work without caffeine

So you’ve decided to give up caffeine—good for you (and godspeed). There are a ton of reasons why people give up coffee and other forms of caffeine, whether it’s to help with anxiety symptoms or to stop feeling such a crash in the afternoon. But whatever your reason, there’s no doubt that the first few days of caffeine withdrawal can be R-O-U-G-H. (Hello, caffeine headache, lethargy, and crankiness.)

But now if you’re left wondering how to stay awake without caffeine, don’t worry—it’s totally possible. We talked to nutrition and sleep experts to nab their best tips for staying alert and awake during the day when coffee is just not an option for you. No selling your soul required!

1. Prioritize eating for energy

Eat a healthy, balanced meal, recommends Amy Shapiro, RD, founder and director of New York City-based Real Nutrition . “If you go long without food, you’re going to get tired,” she says. She suggests reaching for a snack or meal every three to four hours, making sure that you include a mix of complex carbs, lean protein, and a healthy fat—say, a salad with chicken, avocado, and vegetables, or a quinoa bowl with roasted veggies and salmon. (You can find some other afternoon snack ideas here.) “This will balance your blood sugar and keep your energy up,” she adds.

2. Sniff on some citrus

“There’s some evidence that citrus—such as eating an orange or having some lemon in your water—can help energize you,” says Rebecca Robbins, M.S., Ph.D., of the Center for Healthful Behavior Change at NYU School of Medicine and co-author of Sleep for Success! . “When I need a pick-me-up, I often use orange-scented essential oils,” Shapiro adds.

3. Or reach for some ginger

“It increases energy production and circulation while reducing inflammation,” says Brooklyn-based registered dietitian Maya Feller, RD . Try this ginger tea recipe when you’re looking for a caffeine-free afternoon sip.

4. Get moving

It’s an oldie but a goodie because it works: “Getting your blood flowing will increase your energy levels, stat,” Shapiro says. Walking around your office, walking to fill your water bottle, visiting a friend’s office, or even just taking a quick jaunt around the block are all quick, easy ways to beat that notorious 3 p.m. slump.

5. Drink up (water, that is)

A telltale sign of dehydration is fatigue, says Shapiro. Whichever way you take your water—plain, sparkling, with lemon or lime—works. Time to refill your water bottle! (And if that’s a task, you might want to try this hydration app to keep you on track.)

6. Crunch on something

If your job mainly involves staring unblinkingly at a computer screen for hours on end, it’s easy to fall into a fog, which is why chef and dietitian Michele Sidorenkov, RDN, recommends throwing a crunchy snack into your tote every morning like an apple or a handful of almonds. Two reasons: Crunchy things “engage [your] auditory senses, and the more loud and abrupt the sound, the more you are engaging those senses,” Sidorenkov says. Second: If caffeine has been your main source of fuel until recently, you’ll need to find new ways to perk up, and “the more dense and hardy the crunchy food item, the more you’ll help fuel your body for the next few hours,” Sidorenkov says.

7. Get a change of perspective

“I’m not a coffee drinker, so the first thing I do after I meditate each morning is flip up into a handstand to get going sans caffeine,” yoga instructor Danielle Diamond says. “All that extra blood flow to the brain has a major energizing effect on the mind, plus it generates prana, or ‘life force’ in the body.” If you haven’t done a handstand since kindergarten, Diamond recommends bridge pose instead.

8. Practice good sleep hygiene when you go to bed

For most adults, that means getting at least seven hours of restful sleep per night. Additionally, try to maintain a consistent bedtime when possible—that means no going to bed at 9 p.m. on Monday then not hitting the sheets until 2 a.m. on Tuesday. “We call that a yo-yo sleep cycle, and it will throw your body out of sync with its environment,” Dr. Robbins explains. Prioritizing sleep and maintaining a consistent schedule “does so many favors for [you] if you can maintain it,” she adds. Most importantly, your body will be more likely to understand when it should be awake and when it should be asleep, giving you more consistent, balanced energy levels.

Is sleeping with a robot the new frontier of bedtime tech? If that’s not your speed, this low-tech breathing exercise will have you snoozing in no time.

How to keep yourself awake at work without caffeine

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How to keep yourself awake at work without caffeine

Workdays can sometimes feel like a rollercoaster ride. Besides the ups and downs of day-to-day responsibilities, many people are also riding stressful peaks and valleys of energy and crashes, while trying to squeeze in as much productivity as they can between slumps.

Caffeine is a common fix, but the brief spurts of energy it produces offer only a short-term solution. To help you take back your day, here are six ways you can stay awake, energized and focused at work without caffeine.

1. Brief office exercises to get the blood flowing

If you’ve ever gone for a walk to clear your head, you’ve experienced the benefit that getting up and moving can do for your focus. But you don’t need to leave your workspace to get that benefit.

Try some desk squats by moving your chair back a few inches and placing your feet shoulder width apart. Then bend at the knees as if you were going to sit in the chair until you begin to feel the cushion beneath you, and stand back up in one motion.

More of an arms person? Do a set of desk pushups. Place your hands flat on your desk and take a few steps back so your body creates a 45-degree angle with the floor. Keep your core tight and lower yourself down toward the desk by bending at your elbows. Repeat.

2. Healthy foods that naturally stimulate the brain and help you maintain focus

One of the best ways to maintain your energy and focus throughout the day is by eating strategically. To achieve a state of sustained energy, pair carbohydrates and protein.

Carbs such as whole grains take longer to digest, which allows you to get energy from them over a longer period of time. Pair that with a protein, a large percentage of which your body converts into energy, for a long-tail spurt of energy. To kick your focus up a notch, add in some leafy greens. Foods such as spinach or kale are rich in vitamin B folate and vitamin K, which studies show contribute to improved brain function and focus.

3. Breathing exercises that help with oxygen intake

You probably don’t think about breathing often, but your oxygen intake can impact your focus. Breathing exercises help increase your oxygen intake, which can relax you and allow you to work smarter.

While sitting in a chair, place your shoulders firmly against the back of your seat and sit up straight. Breathe out as much air as you can, and then inhale slowly from your diaphragm, taking in as much air as possible. Hold for a count of five, and then exhale slowly. Repeat for a set of 10.

4. Scheduled breaks away from your computer, to rest your eyes and refresh your mind

You’re in good company if you get a headache, dry eyes or fatigue after staring at your computer screen for a while. Computer vision syndrome can produce these symptoms if you’ve been looking at a device screen for too long. The American Optometric Association recommends taking a 15-minute break every two hours to help combat these symptoms.

Not only will a break give your eyes a chance to rest, but switching up your environment can help refresh your mind. You might also try taking even more frequent breaks with the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, peel your eyes away from your screen and look at something 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. This lets your eyes refocus and relax, and helps you maintain your focus longer.

5. Writing that uses your creative energies in a new and free-form way

Take 15 minutes to jot down some thoughts to clear your mind. Grabbing a pen and paper can put you in a different frame of mind than if you’re writing at a computer, and can help you regain focus.

If you find yourself struggling to figure out what to write, try going stream of consciousness: Write whatever comes to mind to get on an initial roll, and then zero in on whatever thoughts come to you.

6. Hydrating

Being a little dehydrated isn’t just uncomfortable — it can also be detrimental to your cognitive function. Research shows that even mild dehydration can significantly impact short-term memory and attention. To combat this, make sure you’re getting enough water each day. For men, the World Health Organization recommends 2.5 liters of water, and for women, 2.2 liters.

If being tethered to a water bottle all day sounds a little trying, don’t worry. You can get a good amount of water from foods such as fruits and vegetables during the day to help offset the amount you need to drink.

Some of these techniques may work better for you than others. To get the maximum benefits, try a few in combination over several weeks to see how your body and mind respond. With the right adjustments, you’ll begin to see a tangible increase in your energy and focus and be able to charge ahead toward your goals.

How to keep yourself awake at work without caffeine

Before I have my double shot of espresso in the morning, I am basically a zombie. Groggy, and irritable, I turn towards my morning fix of coffee to kickstart my day. But, counting on caffeine to boost your energy in the morning is the norm: A 2014 study estimated at least 85 percent of Americans consume at least one caffeine product every single day — through products like coffee, tea, energy drinks, chocolate, and pills.

On average, it takes around 10 minutes for you start to feel the effects of caffeine. However, the energy-boosting drug doesn’t hit peak concentration in your bloodstream until around 45 minutes after you drink a cup of coffee or tea. Though the energy-boosting benefits of consuming caffeine depends largely on the individual and how much caffeine is consumed, too much of it can lead to a caffeine crash and have negative impact on your health — causing symptoms such as nausea, insomnia, headaches, restlessness, or irritability.

Caffeine may be a staple of most people’s morning routines, but it doesn’t have to be the only source of energy you rely on to jumpstart your day. If you need a little boost, here are 11 science-approved ways to wake up in the morning — without caffeine.

Eat Breakfast

If you tend to choose grab-and-go meals like granola bars, or skip breakfast entirely, you may feel more tired in the AM. Food gives you calories, which equate to energy. So, fueling yourself with a good meal after sleeping all night may be an easy way to improve your energy in the morning. Classic breakfast foods like bananas, eggs, and yogurt are all energy-boosting options.

Last Updated: April 12, 2021 References Approved

This article was medically reviewed by Sari Eitches, MBE, MD. Dr. Sari Eitches is an Integrative Internist who runs Tower Integrative Health and Wellness, based in Los Angeles, California. She specializes in plant-based nutrition, weight management, women’s health, preventative medicine, and depression. She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine. She received a BS from the University of California, Berkeley, an MD from SUNY Upstate Medical University, and an MBE from the University of Pennsylvania. She completed her residency at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, NY and served as an attending internist at the University of Pennsylvania.

There are 19 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 36 testimonials and 88% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status.

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When you start to feel tired, that’s usually the cue to go to bed and get some shut-eye. Sometimes, however, you have to stay awake, whether it’s for a late-night shift at work, an early-morning class, or a sleepover. Your first instinct might be to reach for the caffeine, but that does not always work for everyone. Luckily, there are lots of other ways you can keep yourself awake when you are tired, and this wikiHow will show you how!

How to keep yourself awake at work without caffeine

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The alarm clock spells dread in the morning whether you must get ready for work or for school. Many turn to caffeine to help them come alive, get focused, and be more productive. However, drinking too much caffeine can lead to desensitization, which makes it harder and harder to get the same feeling that you first did. Instead, it is better to find more sustainable ways to solve your morning problems.

1. End showers with cold water – it may seem like a terrible idea at first, but warm showers will actually make you more relaxed and lethargic. If you get clean with warm water, but gradually go towards a colder temperature, you will easily wake up. For the final minute, try to have water as cold as you can stand.
2. No carbs for breakfast – if you eat a lot of carbohydrates for breakfast you are going to end up crashing within a few hours. Try to eat eggs, vegetables, and some fruits instead of bagels, cereal, or similar products.
3. Wake up at the same time – if you have a varied schedule on the weekend and in the week, your body is going to be constantly trying to adjust. Set a time and leave it there for the entire week no matter what. Your body will get used to it.

SEE ALSO: What Drinking Coffee Does to You
4. Exercise – doing some form of exercise in the morning will help to ward off fatigue and it will surely wake you up.
5. Give yourself time – if you need to be awake for an important early morning meeting or test, give yourself enough time to wake up. Sleeping as long as you can might actually keep you in a daze while you are doing something important.
6. Expose your body to sunlight – natural sunlight alerts your internal clock to wake up better than artificial light
7. Stimulate your brain – spend some time thinking about another important puzzle or problem when you get out of bed and your brain will feel far more alert

We’ve learned what caffeine really does to our brains , but for many it’s become a staple of everyday life. With a reasonable amount of sleep, however, it’s not that hard to get up without the help of stimulants. Here’s how.

What Caffeine Actually Does to Your Brain

For all of its wild popularity, caffeine is one seriously misunderstood substance. It’s not a…

Although I can’t say it’s necessarily on-purpose, I very rarely ever consume caffeine or other stimulants yet I’m generally as awake and alert as anybody else during the day. While I’d like to say this is because I actually force myself to sleep at least eight hours a day, that’s more of an exception than a rule. As a result I’ve employed a few tricks here and there to keep myself going without resorting to caffeine or other stimulants. If you’re thinking of ditching your morning cup of coffee and afternoon soda, here are some tips to keep you from feeling sluggish.

Turn Down the Temperature Before You Go to Sleep

First of all, you’re naturally going to be a bit warmer in your bed than you will be sitting at a desk or on the couch when the temperature in the room is the same, so it makes sense to dial the temperature down before you go to bed. Instead of adjusting it just a few degrees, make it a bit colder than you might normally tolerate. Your bed will keep you warm and the cold air will help you feel more awake. If you’ve ever been in a sauna or a hot tub you know how hard it is to move. Colder air won’t be uncomfortable, but it won’t turn relaxation into total sloth. Also, walking around in the cool air in the morning will definitely keep you moving a lot faster than a perfect, warmer temperature.

Keep Your Alarm out of Reach

If your alarm is by your side when you wake up, you can easily hit the snooze button and avoid actually getting out of bed. Snooze is your worst enemy. If you can’t get up that early, set your alarm for later and shorten your morning routine. Either way, the important thing is that you get out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off. Or, better yet, don’t use an alarm at all. That’s not always possible, but it’s a good way to force yourself to go to bed early enough. If you do, you can trust yourself to wake up in time to get ready and get to work.

Only Sleep in Your Bed

I am currently writing this in bed, so I am somewhat of a hypocrite. That said, I’m recovering from an illness so I get a pass. You don’t. Keep your work, television, and anything that requires you to be conscious out of your bedroom. Well, as much as possible anyway. If the bedroom is where you sleep and only where you sleep, your body will not associate them with sleep and will tire less during those activities.

Wash Your Face with a Rough Wet Cloth

In the morning, as soon as you get up, go to your bathroom and grab a rough (as in not soft or comfortable) and get it wet with some cold water. Rub it on your face with a reasonable amount of pressure. This is not always comfortable while you’re doing it, but you end up with a reasonably clean face (which will hopefully only get cleaner after you shower) and, moments after you’re finished, you’ll feel refreshed. While this isn’t something that will last you all-day, it’ll wake you up with minimal discomfort first thing in the morning.

Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Or just eat any breakfast. I’m always tempted to skip it because there’s never enough time, but it’s by far the most important thing you can do to stay awake during the day. Your body has been fasting all night. Give it food as soon as you wake up. Because you’re getting ready to go, you’re going to require energy in the morning. If you work in a cube farm and are seated all day, it might be the most active part of your day. You need to eat. Stop making excuses and figure out a way to make sure you always have something to eat every morning— even if it’s a donut .

A Morning Donut Could Improve Your Memory and Ability to Concentrate

Donuts aren’t exactly a superfood, but it turns out they may be capable of providing your brain…

Those are my tips for staying alert during the day without stimulants. Got any of your own? Let’s hear ’em in the comments!

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I’m, disagreeing with #1 for two reasons. Body temp drops at night while you sleep. Check your temp in the morning right when you wake up and it is usually about 97.5-98 degrees so. Also, as is my personal experience, it being cold outside of my bed is extra motivation to stay in bed. Just last week we put on the electric blanket and I stayed in bed until like 11am enjoying the relative warmth.

#2 Doesn’t really deal with stimulants (unless you think of your alarm as a stimulant, then yes) but it DOES work. I used to miss classes and important meetings all the time because I would turn the alarm off in my sleep. Now it is across the room and I have to get up physically to turn it off. However, that doesn’t ensure that I am awake.

Ive heard a lot of sources disagree about #3 on the basis that if you take naps in your bed your body associates it with sleeping at night and is harder to wake up.

#4 Works well, and is pretty refreshing.

#5 is just replacing a stimulant like caffeine with protein or carbohydrates. Nevertheless, if you want to get a more natural waking skip the coffee or coke, take a shower, and eat something. I’ve found I can’t eat anything more than like a bagel in the morning with cream cheese or I feel bloated and uncomfortable all day.

How to keep yourself awake at work without caffeine

Sleepless nights happen to the best of us. Maybe you tossed and turned all night long, were up working on an urgent deadline or had a bit too much fun celebrating last night and it ate into your shuteye. Whatever the case, the reality is that you still have to face the next day on little to no sleep and still function at an acceptable level.

“When you don’t get enough sleep, your brain doesn’t function at optimal speed,” says Leigh Winters, a neuroscientist and wellness expert. “Brain imaging research shows that sleep deprivation results in reduced blood flow to areas of the brain, like the prefrontal cortex [that’s] responsible for higher level thought processes like working memory. It’s also likely to make you more irritable and prone to mood swings.”

Getting through the day is bound to be a struggle. That said, it’s still possible to power through, and do it as productively as possible, until you’re finally able to crash into the sweet softness of your mattress.

Sit by a Window or Step Outside

“Nature is one of our most underutilized self-soothers both physiological and psychologically,” notes Winters. “Connecting with nature and being in fresh air can make you feel more awake. Also, getting some natural sunlight helps maintain circadian rhythms, which will help get your sleep schedule back on track.” She added that while blue-wavelength light — like that emitted by our phones and computers — can mimic natural light, actually being in nature can reduce your heart rate and stress levels and mentally invigorate you.

How to keep yourself awake at work without caffeine

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Resist Sugar, Carbs and Processed Foods

Your tired body will crave an easily digestible and quick high, but with that high comes a gnarly crash, warned registered dietitian Maya Feller. “Skip the ultra-processed foods and beverages,” she advises. “They may sound good in the moment but will likely provide a rush of unsustained energy that may leave you more tired and hungry. It’s a cycle that your already tired body does not need.”

Prioritize Balanced Meals and Snacks

You should eat balanced meals every day, but doing so becomes doubly important on days when you’re completely wiped. “Create meals that supply all of the macronutrients from whole and minimally processed sources,” says Feller. “A great lunch would be a serving of fish — or really any protein of your choice — with a heaping side of greens topped with nuts and seeds.” An optimal afternoon snack, she adds, could be a slice of traditional dark pumpernickel bread topped with avocado and hummus. “The lunch is providing lean protein along with a boost of phytonutrients from the greens; the snack is providing a fiber-rich whole grain with plant-based fats and vitamins and minerals,” she explains.

Don’t Skip Meals

On that note: Don’t forget to eat altogether. It may slip your already groggy mind, so create an alert on your phone if you have to. “Skipping meals leads to glucose dips and increased moodiness,” notes Feller. Spare your officemate and family the extra dose of crankiness and carve out time to chow down.

Power Nap, If You Must


Sleep better 16 ways to get a better night’s sleep — without popping a pill

“A power nap can be of value when there is an occasional interruption from the normal schedule of sleep,” says Dr. Steven Olmos, who is board certified in sleep-related disorders. “The greatest pressure to sleep is 4 a.m. and 4 p.m., so if you are feeling an afternoon dip in energy, a quick nap can restore the body fatigue that is felt with the previous night’s interrupted sleep.” A power nap is simply 20 minutes of uninterrupted, comfortable sleep — no more, no less.

Stay Active

It may seem counterintuitive to hit the gym when you’re already low on energy, but all three experts say staying active can keep you alert. “Starting the day with your blood pumping is the best formula for energy for the day. Exercise increases your core metabolic rate and will sustain for hours after you stop exercising,” notes Dr. Olmos. Winters adds: “It can be a walk or dancing around — just make sure to move your body. It’s a bonus if you get your fitness on outside.”

Caffeine Is OK, but Don’t Overdo It

“Go easy on the caffeine,” Feller warns. “Yes, it will give you a boost, but for those that are sensitive to the side effects, having too much can lead to the decreased desire for food, the jitters and difficulty sleeping.” Coffee or tea should be your moderated caffeine of choice, she says, adding that you should stay far away from sugar-doused energy drinks because “the additives are more harmful than helpful.”

Press Pause on Big Projects or Decisions

The quote “Don’t push off what you can do today until tomorrow” does not apply when you’re sleep deprived. “If you pulled an all-nighter or have an enormous sleep debt, think twice about making any big decisions or engaging in high-level thought processes, like analyzing, evaluating and planning,” says Winters. “Sleep deprivation not only slows your cognitive speed but also decreases constructive thinking skills and logical reasoning.” So refine your to-do list, push off non-priority tasks until tomorrow and allow yourself an easier day.


  • 7 Ways to Actually Get to Bed An Hour Earlier Tonight
  • Why Lack of Sleep Is Costing Us Billions of Dollars
  • 8 Sleep Mistakes You Can Fix Tonight
  • This Is How to Keep a Sleep Diary to Actually Improve Your Sleep
  • “I Ditched the Screens In Bed, But That’s Not the Only Reason I Sleep Better’

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Forget coffee, CAT VIDEOS are the best way to give your body a boost: Chemists reveal how to stay alert without caffeine

  • The American Chemical Society has produced tips to help stay awake
  • It recommends viral cat videos as they boost hormones involved in focus
  • Drinking water is also recommended as dehydration can increase fatigue
  • It says dancing and listening to music can also make people feel energised

Published: 15:25 BST, 25 August 2015 | Updated: 07:45 BST, 26 August 2015

Most of us have suffered from that mid-afternoon lull when it’s a struggle to keep our eyes open and we reach for a cup of coffee.

But this mid-afternoon pick-me-up can have a dramatic impact on sleep later that night.

To help keep people alert, without also damaging their night-time routine, a group of chemists has revealed how to stay awake without caffeine.

They suggest a series of ways of boosting the body’s energy levels, including watching viral cat videos, dancing, listening to music and turning on lights.

Scroll down for video

How to keep yourself awake at work without caffeine

Many people struggle to stay awake at their desks in the afternoon (stock image pictured), but a series of tips from the American Chemical Society can help workers feel more alert without having to reach for a coffee

According to the video produced by the American Chemical Society, watching funny videos of cats, while perhaps not the best way to please your boss, can give you a mood boost.

This is because watching enjoyable clips can increase the levels of oxytocin, the so-called cuddle hormone, in the brain and decrease levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, making it easier to concentrate.


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The video also recommends drinking plenty of water.

The chemists added: ‘Dehydration can lead to fatigue, not to mention more serious symptoms like confusion, heart palpitations and fainting.

‘The adult human body is 50 to 65 per cent water. We typically start to get thirsty when we have lost two to three per cent of our body’s water.

‘Believe it or not it can affect you mentally and physically when you have lost just one per cent.

How to keep yourself awake at work without caffeine

Listening to music triggers the release of hormones like oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin (illustrated above) which can provide a boost to mood and also help to make the brain more alert

‘This is because it is a major component the plasma in our blood, which transports oxygen, proteins and other nutrients your body needs to function properly.’

The chemists also recommend dancing to music as it can produce endorphins that leave people feeling happier and more energised.

Music is known to trigger pleasure circuits in the brain to release hormones like oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin to give a mood boost.

The chemists suggest also turning on some bright lights or venturing outside. This is because bright lights can activate neurones in the hypothalamus to release a neurotransmitter called hypocretin.

This regulates wakefulness and appetite. People who suffer from the most common form of narcolepsy, where sufferers suddenly fall asleep, have a lack of hypocretin.

The chemists continued: ‘Some research has shown a direct connection between bright lights in general and alertness.

‘Getting out and taking a quick walk in the sun might just be all you need to get the rest of the day running smoothly.’

However they add that sometimes perhaps the only solution is to take a quick nap.


If you are able to use these tips to keep yourself awake without relying on caffeine, then a group of engineers might have come up with a use for all that left over coffee.

They have produced a polymer from coffee bean waste that can be used in 3D printers.

Called Wound Up, it produces a coffee-brown printed material which can be used in any 3D printer that uses traditional PLA thermoplastic.

The companies behind the material, 3Dom USA and C2renew, use waste from coffee bean hulls, meaning it is environmentally friendly.

Wound Up costs $49 (£30) for a 2.2 lb spool.