How to Stay Awake and Alert Without Stimulants
We all sometimes stay up too late, have to pull an all-nighter, or just get a bad night's sleep. Rather than cursing your past self for the mistake, try the following to wake up a bit.
- Breathing exercises. Try the 7-11 (breath in for 7 seconds, out for 11) and 5-5-5 (in for 5, hold for 5, out for 5) patterns for about 1 minute. Both of these force you to concentrate, and help release 'feel-good endorphins'.
- Get some exercise. Swing your arms, jog on the spot, run up and down a flight of stairs. Do a few pushups. Anything to increase pulse and breathing a small amount. This will increase your physical energy levels and clear your head, if you aren't already tired from physical activity.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Open your eyes. Wide. It'll instantly make you feel more alert and coherent. Similarly, smiling for no reason automatically makes you happier, and it works for those around you too :)
- Seek bright light, especially sunlight. The more your body thinks it's daytime, the more it will wake up.
- Take a nap, anywhere from 5 - 20 minutes, but no longer. Make sure to set an alarm. This will 'recharge the batteries' for an hour or more.
- Eat protein and fibre, not carbs (fatty foods). Protein wakes you up, fibre gives you a steady source of energy for the next few hours, but carbs make you sleepy.
- Repeat these as much as you want, even if you aren't tired. Naps must be limited to 20 minutes total for the day, or you'll sleep badly the next night.
- Rely on caffiene. It might make you feel more awake, but doesn't actually wake you up. Fruit juice is a better alternative.
- Make important decisions. Sleep deprivation affects decision making and reflexes as much as alcohol.
- Skip sleep to stuff you dislike or struggle with. Lack of sleep destroys willpower, and with it, organization, effort, discipline, and sensible decision making.
- Do things that result in headaches, such as being in a loud envoironment. You're much more susceptible to headaches when tired.
- Keep trying to sleep early into the morning. If you haven't fallen asleep by sunrise (or about 4am if it's winter), just get up and start getting ready for the day. Lying down reduces energy levels.