17 Refreshing Ways to Stay Awake

Your eyelids are growing heavy.  You can’t keep your eyes open.  Sleep will be upon you soon.




We’ve all been there.  But what can you do to help stay awake and (in most cases) stay alert?  Here are 17 top tips for you:

original photo by Cassidy Curtis

original photo by Cassidy Curtis

  1. Move – Staying in the same place for ages doesn’t help.  Get up and dance around, jump up and down, shake your arms and legs all over the place. If you’re in public then, of course, do it twice as enthusiastically. 😉
  2. Powernap – There are usually two choices: fight the sleep or go to sleep. Taking a quick powernap is the third, most beneficial, answer.
  3. Change what you’re doing frequently – The longer you spend on a task, the more danger you’re in of drifting off.  Any jobs that aren’t totally exciting or engaging are going to send your thoughts elsewhere from time to time.  Don’t get to the point where your head crashes to your desk and you knock yourself out. Find a different task to refresh you for a moment. Return to the less exciting task when you’ve recovered.
  4. Remember to eat – You will feel lethargic if you don’t eat enough. Feed as you work. Have something nearby so you remember. Or set an alarm when it’s time to think about food.
  5. Get talking or singing (exercise the vocal chords) – Who doesn’t love the sound of their own voice? Okay, that’s not what’s going to keep you awake…however, a break from silence can be enough to rouse you back into a more awakened state.  Belt out a song and see the world with sparkle once more!
  6. Change the lighting – Open the curtains, turn up the light, switch on a lamp, move to a brighter area.  Or reduce the glare, if necessary (can’t have you squinting either).
  7. Go outside – Have a walk, sit on the grass, look to the sky, breathe in the (possibly) clean air.  If possible, find a place that’s full of trees and fields and lots of green.  What’s stopping you from working outside?
  8. Have a drink – Fatigue comes about when you’re low on fluids and dehydrating. Grab a refreshing drink. Especially a cold one.  And preferably water.
  9. Do some free association writing – Go crazy and churn out a whole load of rubbish from your head.  Let it all out.  Just write or type or speak whatever comes into your head. When you’ve been sat there, waiting for inspiration, the flow can stop and you get tired with it. Churning out anything, no matter how weird, will soon wake you up again.
  10. Self-harm – Not as brutal as it sounds…a quick pinch to the back of your hand can help you refocus.
  11. Do something new or risky – The basic idea here is to reignite your senses.  By risky, I mean something that you feel slightly uncomfortable doing…I don’t mean you should act dangerously!
  12. Do sudoku – Give yourself a mental boost by working on a puzzle.  Crosswords, logic problems, sudoku, anything to get your mind racing. Make sure it’s not too difficult or too easy, otherwise you may start wandering again.
  13. Splash your face with cold water
  14. Wash your hands with cold water – Can’t deal with splashing your face?  Cold water on your hands is the next best thing.
  15. Move away from what’s affecting you – Sometimes you’ve just had enough and need a quick break.  You know the times when you know you’re not tired, but you’re still fighting sleep?  You must finish something but your body won’t let you.  Taking just a 5-10 minute break may be enough to let you get back to what you’re meant to be doing.
  16. Find company – If you’re on your own and finding it difficult to concentrate, seek out other people.  They may distract you from the work too, but since you were already being distracted…
  17. Make time to sleep properly – When faced with a need to stay up longer than usual, or when you’re neglected sleep for a few days, promise yourself that well-earned recovery sleep as soon as possible.  If you go a few days on little sleep, spend the next few days trying to regulate things again.

Let us know what tips you have in the comments. I’m sure you’ve got snore more!