You wake up and head straight to your coffee maker. You can't imagine starting your day without a mug of coffee. You need it to wake and stay awake throughout the day. By mid-afternoon, you reach for a second or third cup or maybe a caffeinated soda or cup of tea to keep you going.
If you skip your java jolts, you warn friends and colleagues to not even think about getting near you. You're irritable, lethargic, have difficulty concentrating and may get a headache.
It doesn't have to be that way. You can take steps to break or reduce your java habit, if you feel like you're too dependent or it's keeping you awake or making you jittery.
Learn more about Signs You're Consuming Too Much Caffeine.
Some studies show that caffeine can be good for your health, but if you're looking for an alternative, here are some caffeine-free ways to help you stay awake and possibly improve your energy and mood in the long run.
Brighten the lights.
Dim lighting can aggravate tiredness, and some people even suffer from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, when they don't get enough light. If you can, turn up the lights. It will help ease fatigue, reducing sleepiness and increasing alertness.
Yes, you've heard it time and time again, but do you actually eat breakfast, the most important meal of the day? If not, try adding the meal to your morning routine. And no, coffee doesn't count as a meal. Studies show that eating a healthy breakfast can improve your concentration at work, offer you strength and endurance for physical activity, lower cholesterol levels and give you a diet higher in nutrients, minerals and vitamins. Here are some easy, on-the-go recipes to get you started.
When you don't drink enough water, you can get fatigued. One of the main systems in the body that feels the impact of dehydration is blood volume. When blood volume is decreased, you may have reduced blood flow and nutrients to the brain. Drink plenty of fluids and eat foods high in water content like celery and watermelon.
Step away from the screen.
Constantly staring at a computer or phone screen can strain your eyes, worsening sleepiness. Periodically look away from the screen for a few minutes to relax your peepers. Better yet, get up and stretch or move around.
Start a conversation.
Fading fast? Initiate or get involved in a chat to get your mind moving. You may not be in the mood, but having some light chit-chat with a friend, coworker or family member in the morning can help you get out of a zombie-like state.
Do your best to spend at least 30 minutes a day outside in natural sunlight. Your circadian rhythm, which regulates your sleep-wake cycle, is influenced by daylight. Exposure to light may improve alertness and mental awareness. Is your day too jammed for a lunchtime stroll? Stepping outside for even a breath of fresh air can help revive your senses. Another benefit: Time Outdoors May Deliver Better Sleep.
Munch on a healthy snack.
Step away from the cookies and chocolate. Sugary snacks may give you a quick energy boost. But that's followed by sugar lows, which lead to lethargy and mental fogginess. Opt for healthy and energizing snacks like peanut butter on celery sticks or baby carrots and low-fat cream cheese dip. Fruits have sugars for a short energy surge, but they won't raise your glucose as much as candy—so, you won't crash and burn. Fruits packed with vitamin C like oranges and pineapple help convert fat to energy. And that can ward off fatigue.
Find yourself nodding off? Swap to a more interesting and engaging work responsibility to help stimulate your mind. Believe it or not, you may even want to pause your day to watch an entertaining YouTube clip. (Cat videos anyone?) Tuning in to something fun can help you get rid of that zoned-out feeling from staring at a computer screen for too long. If you change your focus for just a few moments to something more pleasurable, you can perk up. So, play a few minutes of Candy Crush for the sake of improving your alertness.