If the afternoon rolls around and you’re overcome by a strong urge to take a nap, you may find yourself in need of a few quick tricks to wake up your mind and body so that you can successfully finish the rest of your work day.
If you find yourself constantly suffering from excessive daytime sleepiness, though, your situation may call for looking at the big picture, too. Analyze your lifestyle habits in general to identify any behaviors that may be interfering with your ability to get quality sleep at night.
Here are some helpful, natural-based tips for staying alert in the moment and also recognizing what long-term changes can be made to help your sleeping schedule overall.
Remedying your daytime sleepiness
1. Stand up and get moving
If you’re sitting in your chair and keep nodding off, get up and get going. Take a ten minute break and walk around, even just circling the office or building if you can’t go outside. If you don’t have the ability to take an official break at the moment, perform a work-related errand like taking some letters to the mailroom or going to check if the copier needs more paper. When you come back to your desk, optimize your posture by sitting up straight and not propping your body up in a slouched or overly-comfortable position. With your body poised to be alert and attentive, you can help your mind follow suit.
2. Eat a nutrient-rich snack
Wake your body up the natural way with vitamins, minerals and lean proteins. Although a sugary snack can give you instant energy, the sudden crash you’ll experience after just isn’t worth it. Stick to a healthful option like yogurt and fruit or peanut butter and veggies. Consider keeping a bag of trail mix or a protein bar in your purse or in your desk for whenever you need it.
3. Drink a glass of water
If you don’t have many calories to spare in the afternoon, make sure to at least load up on water. Keep a water bottle or cup at your desk that you can always fill up when you’re in a bind. Although some individuals go for a caffeinated beverage as an afternoon pick-me-up, you don’t want to disrupt your ability to get to sleep tonight so be careful with high concentrations of caffeine.
4. Turn on another light
If you have another lamp or light you can turn on, go ahead and brighten your working conditions or living arrangements. Where possible, open the curtains or blinds to invite natural sunlight into the room as well. A more lit environment can help physiologically remind your body that it’s time to be awake and productive.
5. Get a breath of fresh air
If you can, volunteer to run an errand that requires you to step outside the building for a few minutes so you can feel invigorated from the fresh air. If you haven’t already had your lunch break, go ahead and take your sack lunch to a nearby grassy area so you can get a change of scenery while you put your lungs to work.
6. Change tasks
Even if you can’t get up and run around outside, perhaps you can at least change whatever task you’re currently trying to complete. If you have a few assignments that have to get done before the end of the day, go ahead and switch to the next project with the plan to go back to your original task later. Switching gears can help your mind get out of a rut, enabling you to plug back in and get invested in work again.
7. Splash some water on your face or spray a cool mist
You may be the kind of person who can run to the office bathroom and splash a little water on your face, but makeup-coated skin and eyelids may not look so great afterwards. If desired, keep a mineral water spray in your purse or at your desk to hydrate and energize your skin, giving you a fresh start.
8. Set a timer and close your eyes for five or ten minutes
When you’ve tried everything and just can’t kick the afternoon blues, set your phone alarm to go off in ten minutes and close your eyes. Taking a mini break to fully shut off your brain can do wonders sometimes in helping your mind be ready to go when the time for your catnap is over. If you nap too much in the afternoon, your nighttime sleep can be disturbed so be careful.
Understanding an underlying cause for your daytime troubles & finding the remedy
1. Identify your problem
If you have a work schedule or lifestyle that keeps you up at odd hours, your body may not be getting enough deep sleep at night. If you’re working through depression or severe stress, your body may also be having a hard time calming down enough to sleep when you should, which is causing you to feel like sleeping during the day. Sometimes we just have to weather through a sleep-interfering period of life like when caring for a newborn, but if you can request work changes or consult a counselor to help you cope, you may be able to improve your nighttime habits and naturally eliminate sleepiness during the day.
2. Go to sleep earlier
Establish a solid bedtime routine and create a conducive environment to get the rest you need at night. Take a warm bath before bed, play some relaxing music as you fall asleep or do whatever suits you personally to help you get in some good shuteye. Avoid late-afternoon naps and diet-related interferences at night like caffeine, alcohol and heavy meals, which can just end up keeping you awake.
3. Get in your exercise
The body needs enough physical activity during the day to properly sleep at night so make sure you’re keeping the right balance in life. Don’t try to exercise right before bed, though, because moving your body can wake it up. Try to get in a good workout in the morning or, if you can, in the early afternoon when you’re feeling tired anyway.
4. Talk with a medical professional if you’re having serious problems
Although natural remedies can improve many of the daytime issues we have with excessive sleepiness, some individuals have more severe conditions so you can always talk to a doctor if you’re struggling with what can help you in your particular situation.