Human brain

How to Stop Falling Asleep at Work

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. Updated: September 5, 2023
How to Stop Falling Asleep at Work

If you work in an office or similar environment, it is more than embarrassing to fall asleep on the job. It can mean it is possible you might lose said job. People who work from home may not have the same scrutiny and can get away with a snooze, but your productivity and quality will be affected. Even those who are studying can find particularly dry material conducive to sleeping at your desk.

In this oneHOWTO article on how to stop falling asleep at work, we provide you with 10 key tips to stay awake. If you are struggling to to stay alert, these tricks and methods will ensure you can get through even the longest work days.


  1. Tips for staying awake at work
  2. Hydrate
  3. Go for a walk
  4. Eat something healthy
  5. Breath deeply
  6. Listen to music
  7. Look into a bright light
  8. Chew gum
  9. Dance
  10. Sit up straight
  11. Best drinks to stay awake
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Tips for staying awake at work

As we will explain, staying awake at work can be difficult. While general health and rest will be the best way to stay alert in your day-to-day, there are many reasons we become tired in the workplace. Some tricks you will be able to do at the office, some are best kept at home and others will work in both. These tips are to:

  1. Hydrate
  2. Go for a walk
  3. Eat something healthy
  4. Breath deeply
  5. Listen to music
  6. Look into a bright light
  7. Chew gum
  8. Dance
  9. Sit up straight
  10. Best drinks to stay awake

Now we go into why these tips help you stay awake and how to employ them responsibly.


Even if we sit at a desk all day, our workload can keep us behind on even the most basic tasks. For such a fundamental of life, staying hydrated can be sometime we routinely overlook. However, drinking plenty of water is not only important for staying awake, it is vital for our health. Dehydration leads to fatigue, tiredness, weakness and even dizziness. Routine dehydration can seriously affect the function of vital organs.

Drinking water has been proven to increase your energy levels. It does so by helping to stimulate blood flow and transport the oxygen and nutrients for our body to function. This means keeping your brain alert and the rest of your body healthy.

How to Stop Falling Asleep at Work - Hydrate

Go for a walk

If you are really struggling to work, it is possible the sedentary nature of it might be making you sleepy. A brisk walk will activate blood circulation, reducing symptoms of physical fatigue in turn.

When the feeling of drowsiness is too strong, you may need to perform some slightly more intense physical activity. This could mean going for a more stimulating jog or combining your walk with jumps, squats or other exercises. This may be something you can do when working from home more easily. However, if you are falling asleep at work, you can use your break to go outside.

Eat something healthy

Falling asleep at work may occur because of a heavy workload. Just as it is easy to forget to drink, carving out time to eat properly can also be tricky. It is important to remember that eating the wrong food can make you sleepy. If you eat carbohydrate-heavy food, for example, the digestion process can make you sluggish. Eating too much can also make it easier to fall asleep at work.

One helpful trick is to eat snacks which are full of protein and fiber. While it might be difficult to have a steak at your desk, nuts and other snacks can help give us energy. Carrots, apples and avocados are also great to keep us alert.

Breath deeply

Taking deep breaths helps transfer more oxygen to different parts of your body, including the brain. By breathing in deeply, we help to both increase our energy and stimulate the immune system.

Yoga is a great practice to help us breathe without doing strenuous exercise. Meditating is also a great way to help us regulate our drowsiness. However, it is also something which is easier to do at home, rather than the office. It can also help us to reduce stress and anxiety which can be related to work.

Listen to music

When you listen to music, your brain reacts by releasing endorphins. These chemicals stimulate certain parts of the brain and help the feeling of tiredness. Uplifting and energetic music can also help us with mental fatigue, keeping your mind alert and focused.

However, certain music can actually be more conducive to falling asleep at work. We may choose ambient music which is less distracting when we work, but much is designed to help us relax and can make us slip into a snooze. Ideally, you should choose music which is energetic enough to keep you alert, but not distracted.

Look into a bright light

When we talk about looking towards a light, we refer to screens with blue light. The light emitted by the screens of devices such as mobiles, computers or tablets interfere with the production of melatonin. They act by causing an interruption in the natural sleep cycle.

If you have the feeling that sleep is defeating you, take a look at your mobile, computer or tablet for a while. This will help you stay awake for longer.

However, since blue light interrupts our sleep pattern, it can also cause problems of its own, so don't rely on it. Instead, start to organize screen time and non-screen time so that you can better match your circadian rhythm. This is something which is particularly tricky for those who work at night.

How to Stop Falling Asleep at Work - Look into a bright light

Chew gum

Another tip to stop falling asleep and stay alert is to chew gum. Certain studies have shown that chewing gum can increase blood circulation and activate centers in the brain which keep you alert. This helps reduce drowsiness and stops you form falling asleep.

If you are doing an exam or working on something where you are unable to get a snack or a drink, chewing gum is a good way to help you stay awake without getting up from your desk.


Again, this is a tip to stop you falling asleep which is easier to do when working from home. Unless you have really cool colleagues who are free to party. Dancing is like going for a short walk or run except you don't have to go outside. It decreases fatigue and stimulates the body.

Dancing also releases endorphins and provides a state of euphoria. If you choose a motivating rhythm, you can really help recharge your energy levels. Dancing can also be a form of cardio if you do it right.

Sit up straight

Our penultimate tip to help you stay awake is also perhaps the easiest. While it is simple to do, sitting up straight can help us to focus and stay alert. Maintaining a stooped over position will increase sensations of sleepiness and increase physical tiredness. Also, a bent posture causes the brain to receive less oxygen, meaning it will not function as well.

How to Stop Falling Asleep at Work - Sit up straight

Best drinks to stay awake

If you stay up late and wake up early, many of us need something to pick us up in the morning. They are easy to make and have an almost instantaneous effect. These are some of the best drinks to help stop falling asleep:

  • Coffee: the essential drink to help you stay awake. Caffeine is a stimulant which can help us stay awake and focused for long periods. However, once it wears off, we can crash and feel suddenly very sleepy. Also, every individual has their own tolerance for coffee, so respect yours.
  • Energy drinks: often not a healthy as coffee, but effective due to their high caffeine content. Just be careful about what else might be in there.
  • Caffeinated soda: another classic are drinks with caffeine such as cola. However, not to be used regularly due to high sugar content. Also might not be great for those with a high caffeine threshold already.
  • Infusions with theine: some teas such as green tea or ginger tea are a great option for those who want a hot drink, but don't like coffee.

It's important not to abuse these drinks and only have them as part of a balanced diet. If you put lots of sugar in your tea or coffee, then it might help you stay awake, but it won't be good for your body in the long-term. Also, sugar-free energy drinks will use additives and sweeteners which are bad for you in their own way, so be careful of these too. If you have any pre-existing health conditions such as heart arrhythmia, too many stimulants can be particularly bad for you.

Our tips will help you to stay awake at work in a pinch. However, if you find yourself falling asleep at your desk regularly, it is a sign to need to change things up. Get more sleep, eat better and exercise more. These fundamentals are the best way to stay alert at work because your body will be rested and operating at optimum levels.

Also, our article on the best drinks before you sleep can help you when you are too awake at night.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Stop Falling Asleep at Work, we recommend you visit our Family health category.

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How to Stop Falling Asleep at Work