Staying Awake at Work Without Caffeine
Unless you’re a rock climber, a cattle wrangler, or an ultra-runner, the day is likely to come when staying awake at work feels like the hardest part of your job.
At Liquid I.V., we provide serious suggestions for grown-ups who have to complete the full eight hours fully conscious, with a caveat—no caffeine allowed! While the benefits can be great, the crash can be worse, so we put together a how-to guide for staying awake at work without a dose of the strong stuff.
Ever heard of underwater welding? It’s real, we promise. Coffee isn’t an option when you are immersed in the Pacific getting an important welding job finished. For those that can’t (or won’t) indulge the need for caffeine, try following these simple steps:
1. Staying Awake at Work Through Exercise
Office workers who sit up to seven hours a day have significantly greater all-cause mortality rates, even if they work out regularly. In other words, sitting too many hours will probably shorten your life, so why not shake it up every once in awhile?
Even if you don’t have a standing desk, work on getting up once each hour for at least five minutes to stretch, touch your toes, do deep knee bends – even lie on your back and do twists or a yoga position like “happy baby.”
2. Hydrate the Decaf Way
Replace coffee, tea or cola with a decaf drink. Better yet, combine #1 and #2 from the list: Get up and walk to the water cooler, vending machine, your car, or a nearby drinking fountain.
Also, don’t forget the water! The daily “eight glasses” requirement is a decent benchmark for most people, but there are water reminder apps that can more accurately track your water intake based on your height, weight, and fitness level.
Diluted OJ, fresh fruits and veggies, and decaf tea and coffee are practical go-to solutions for daily hydration – just be aware of the usual pitfalls, such as drinks loaded with corn syrup or heaps of sugar. Some “decaf” coffees (especially Starbucks) still contain significant amounts of caffeine.
On second thought, just bring along some Liquid I.V. wherever you go. The taste is great, there’s no caffeine, and something about all that hydration just makes life easier.
3. Go Outside
The trifecta of solutions for staying awake at work: get up, grab a decaf drink, and go outside! You have now taken concrete steps (sometimes literally) to keep your body awake and alert.
Although “fresh air” has been sold as healthy for centuries, decades of research on zoo animals and urban residents shows that even a little exposure to nature (especially being around plants) boosts the immune system significantly. If you are lucky enough to work near plants, spend some time with them each day.
4. Take Ten Deep Breaths
Another strong way to ensure you’re staying awake is to take regular deep breaths. Get up from your desk and either stand or lie down. Breathe from the gut (exhale: gut gets expanded; inhale: pull belly back to spine) ten times, evenly. Along with keeping you fresh, deep breathing can have meditative effects that can promote relaxation as well as increased energy.
5. Get Enough Sleep
Typically, most office workers have the most trouble staying awake at work in the afternoons between 1 and 3pm. The reason for this is related to the natural, circadian rhythms that dictate a body’s rest at midday.
In some countries, especially warmer ones, afternoons are set aside for meals and naptime (can you say siesta?).
By getting enough sleep a night, the afternoon slump is less of a threat. We get it, seven hours or more can be hard to guarantee, particularly with Netflix just waiting for you to binge another episode. Our recommendation? Put down the phone, and considering keeping it far away from your nightstand. The best sleep occurs between 10pm and 2am, so shoot for bedtime by 9:30 as a first step.
6. Too Much Sleep Is Tiring
On the other hand, too much sleep can detract from your energy levels. How much is too much? Everybody’s different, but generally speaking, sleeping much more than 9ish hours can start to be a drag on your physical and mental performance.
Contrary to popular belief, one of the worst sleep habits you can carry into adulthood is “sleeping in,” as extra morning sleep often results in problems establishing a morning routine and feelings of fatigue all day. It seems as if a late morning would be invigorating, but the infamous snooze button actually detracts from optimal energy levels.
7. Eat a light lunch
Staying awake at work might not be a problem when you are a bus driver who can’t afford to nod off, but if you’re a cube worker or work from home, the post-lunch afternoon slump can be a real threat.
But what is a light lunch, exactly?
Your best bet is a meal balanced in macronutrients – fat, carbs, and protein – that minimizes simple sugars. Naturally fibrous foods digest more slowly, keeping blood sugar (glucose) levels more stable.
Excellent lunch meals include a chef salad, half sandwich, fruit and cheese, veggies with nut butter, or half of a bean burrito.
Burgers and fries, pastries, chips, and sweets might be more satisfying in the immediate moment, but will lead to a sleepier afternoon.
Overall, staying awake at work without caffeine can be a difficult task, but if you can wean yourself off of coffee and other caffeinated beverages, there’s a good chance your body’s natural energy levels will carry you through the day on a more consistent cadence than caffeine alone.
Have any other strategies for avoiding the 3pm crash without caffeine? Let us know in the comments below!