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How to Stay Awake at Work Without Coffee

Life can be pretty busy. Long working hours, a volatile economy, ferrying kids to and from school and other activities, and having to get things done on weekends all add to exhaustion.

This often means that your work week is beset with fatigue. You’ve just had a busy weekend doing all the stuff you needed to do, and now you need to learn how to stay awake at the office. There’s no shame in it. This is a common problem for most people. In this post, let’s explore the best way to stay awake at work.

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Caffeine: The Big Pretender

If you’re struggling to remain awake and productive at work, your first thought might be to brew another coffee in the break room. In fact, it’s what lots of people do because coffee is the go-to for a quick mental boost. This habit stems from the fact that coffee is so popular in our society.

There are always plenty of varieties of coffee on offer just around every corner, so it makes sense that you’d reach for one just for that quick boost.

The problem with caffeine is that too much of it can generate restlessness and anxiety. In fact, too much coffee can cause jitteriness and even insomnia. That’s not going to add up to a productive day at work and will eventually make you even more exhausted. So then you’re right back to square one and you’ve not solved a thing. It becomes a vicious circle that is self-defeating.

If you care about your health and long-term well-being, caffeine clearly isn’t the answer. Given all this, the real question is: how do you stay awake at work without coffee? Here are some tips on being more awake and more productive at work without reaching for another coffee:

best office coffee machine

1. Get up and Get Some Exercise

Sadly, so many of us are working in jobs that keep us seated most of the day. And even those that require some movement only tend to see us walking back and forth to filing cabinets or sales associates.

If you’re yawning or feeling generally sluggish at work while sitting at your desk, get up and walk around. Take a brisk ten-minute walk around the office or outside. In fact, use one of your breaks during the day to plan a walk around outside and get some fresh air.

The reason why exercise helps is that it gets your blood moving around your body. It gets your heart rate up and helps to keep you awake and alert. Better yet, there’s no caffeine involved.

PRO TIP: Check out these quick and easy ergonomic exercises you can do anywhere. You can incorporate them into your office routine as they are designed for the workplace. Doing light exercises in the morning can help jumpstart your day and give you sustained energy all day long.

2. Make Sure That You Eat Well Each Day

A balanced diet will give you more sustainable energy in the long run.

Do you skip breakfast because you’re rushing to work on time? Are you having a less-than-adequate breakfast because you’re in a bad habit? This hurts you more than you know and could be a big reason for your sluggishness at work.

They often say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. While this statement might be a little bit overblown, there’s no doubting that breakfast is an essential meal when you work and have a busy life. But this can be applied to all of your meals. In fact, eating regularly and well is important for remaining awake and alert at work.

Ideally, you should plan your meals for the week. Make sure that you have a good solid breakfast that consists of nuts, vegetables, and protein. Eat a balanced diet that cuts down on processed foods and sugars daily.

All of this will keep your blood sugar under control and ensure that you have consistent energy levels throughout the day. The truth is that you might have to cut out that afternoon Twinkie fix, but the end result will be worth it.

3. Have a Chat with Other People

In this day and age of social media, it’s easy to stay in your office chair and chat with colleagues around you over instant messenger. The thing is that we’re social creatures by nature, so we crave this interaction. Even introverts need some social stimulation every now and again.

If you’re feeling tired and unproductive at work, why not get up and have a chat around the water cooler? Take a break and chat with your colleagues about non-work stuff. This kind of light interaction can give you a nice mental and emotional boost and make you less tired and more productive. You can even combine this with getting some exercise.

When you don’t want to talk, you can keep your headset on.

4. Get Yourself Some Water

Unfortunately, most of us don’t drink enough water. Rather than buy a soda from the drink machine, why not take a big water bottle to work instead? It’s free and easy to refill, so you’ll save money. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will keep you awake.

The problem is that dehydration leads to tiredness and lack of concentration. Drinking more water keeps your blood moving and your cells healthy. So instead of drinking another Mountain Dew, drink a tall glass of water instead.

5. Take a Deep Breath

The combination of taking a break and taking a deep breath can give you a slight boost in energy.

When we’re doing work that involves a lot of mental tasks, we tend to forget that we’re physical creatures. This applies to our brains as well. When our bodies are not getting what they need, our concentration tends to suffer. This can hinder you from implementing the best practices on how to stay awake at the office.

If you don’t have a work break coming up and you’re feeling tired, the simplest thing you can do is take some deep breaths. Breathe in deeply through your nose and then out through your mouth. Breathe in until your lungs are full, and then slowly release. Doing this ten times will get your blood moving and pump much-needed oxygen around your body, including your brain.

6. Take Short Breaks

You may not be in a job where you can take frequent breaks, but if you can take a quick five-minute break, you should do it. Staring at a computer screen will create eye strain and sleepiness. If you’re feeling tired and unproductive, make sure that you get up, have a stretch, and look away from the screen.

7. Get More Sleep

It might sound obvious, but getting more sleep at night will help tremendously. If you’re staring at your smartphone screen until the wee hours of the morning, you’re not helping your sleep patterns.

You should work out a regular sleep routine to get optimal rest for the next workday. Put the phone down for at least an hour before you close your eyes and maybe try some reading instead.


It’s easy to become fatigued at work these days. Let’s face it; most of us have busy lives, so lacking focus and being tired at work seems to be the norm. But you can change this even without more caffeine shots. 

These are some simple ways to stay awake at work without coffee. I hope that you can improve your energy levels and make yourself a lot more productive at work and at home every day. At the end of the day, staying fit physically and mentally is the best way to stay awake at work without having more coffee. 🙂

Kelsey Stewart

As a freelance writer working from home, I enjoy writing anything related to office productivity and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Have a nice day! 🙂

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