It was pouring rain as I ran from my Jeep and hurriedly sprinted for my front door of home. As I stepped into the foyer, my gaze hits an unusually large, wrapped gift box with my wife standing by its side and staring at me. It wasn’t my birthday or Christmas, so I am confused as to what is going on here. “Come on! Hurry up and open it!”, she says to me. I bend down to pull at the wrapping and notice delicate round holes that had been punched around the box. All of a sudden I heard some sort of rustling inside. I opened the lid in astonishment as I looked down on our new puppy. I immediately flew up onto cloud nine. “This is another ‘best day of my life’ to add in my books”, I thought to myself.

I showed Neo around his new home, loaded him into my Jeep and off we went for a trip to the pet store for supplies and toys.  For the rest of the evening, the three of us played and played and played. Little did I know I would not be sleeping that night. It took us several months to get Neo adjusted to his new home and routine, so for quite some time my sleep was very irregular. Although I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world, I quickly learned some tips to stay awake and that helped me survive all of the days I felt I could keel over from lack of sleep.

5 Caffeine Free Tips to Stay Awake at Work When You Are Exhausted

  1. Wake up 15 minutes early. I know that waking up early sounds contradictory to the situation at hand, but when you allow yourself the 15 minutes of freedom to rise at your own pace and then mentally prepare yourself for the day ahead – you have found the sweet spot. It’s vital to mentally prepare for your day ahead. The days when you are running low on mental fuel are the days that are literally going to be a battle of the mind. If you prefer running your day, rather than the day running you then mentally preparing for your day is a key element to accomplishing that. Trust me. (If you have issues with sleeping at night check out our post with some techniques on how you can achieve better sleep here.)
  1. Eat, eat, eat. Your body and your brain must be fed in order to perform as you need them to. Do not skip your breakfast any longer. Have a small morning meal to kick-start your metabolism. Pro tip: A snack as simple as an apple, raw nuts and a bit of cheese will help you stay energized—protein and calcium are key. Throughout the day avoid snacking on refined carbs like pretzels or cookies; even though they provide an initial rush, your body burns them quickly and your energy soon is left deflated. If you crave something sweet, try a bit of dark chocolate. It contains the chemical phenyl ethylamine, which increases energy by improving mood and attention span.
  1. Get yourself some Vitamin B12. B12 is famous in the vitamin aisle; it contains energy‐enhancing properties that make it a great candidate for a good kick start. Vitamin B12 also plays an important role in melatonin production (which allows you to have better sleep, resulting in a source of energy for the next day as well). For me personally, I like the injectable B12 shots, and find they work even better than the vitamins for me. Make sure to speak with your primary physician first and find a physician who can administer it to you.
  1. Stretching. Stretching helps keep your body stay alert and can definitely re‐invigorate you during that famous 3pm crash time. Stretching causes you to breath deeper than you may normally, and this extra supply of oxygen is essential to keeping you awake. Stretching your body also activates your lymphatic system, which is responsible for clearing your body of toxins and pollutants. Stay awake AND healthy! Test out a few stretches over the course of a week. Find which ones rejuvenate you and start incorporating those into your work day. Do them at your desk if you have to; it only takes a minute. Roll your neck, do a few shoulder shrugs and circle your feet to keep blood circulating. The more active you are, the better your circulation will be. And good circulation is essential for energy.
  1. Quick Napping. Napping between meetings and/or classes is an excellent way to give yourself a mental and physical break from a busy schedule. There are two important tips to remember about naps: Do not take more than one and don’t take a nap if it is too close to your bedtime. Keep your naps between five and 25 minutes.

Whether you have a new puppy, maybe even a new baby, a new schedule or you just plain flat out partied too hard on a week night, there will come a day when you feel tired. And that’s okay, because you’ve got some tips to stay awake to put into practice here. You will find that they will help you get thru your day and keep you on the road to success.