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On an average, humans spend around one-third of their lives sleeping. Sleep is basically your body’s way of putting itself under rest so that it can recover, repair and rejuvenate. When you’re fast asleep, a lot of bodily functions, such as consolidation of memory, production and regulation of hormones and repair of muscle tissue, take place.
While sleep is necessary, there are times you would like to stay awake. If you’ve ever wondered how to stay awake, then this is for you. In this article, you will get to know more about the reasons why you feel tired, discover some of the effects of sleepiness and learn 10 tips on how to stay awake.
Reasons You Are Feeling Tired
Tiredness is your body’s way of letting you know that it needs sleep or rest. When you consistently don’t get enough sleep, your body does not get the required time to repair and rejuvenate itself. This ultimately adds up and makes your body tired. It doesn’t stop here. There are several other reasons why you might be feeling tired. Some of them are explained below.
Consuming Refined Carbs
While carbohydrates are a great source of energy for your body, eating too many refined and processed carbs can make you feel exhausted and sleepy. This is due to the spike and subsequent fall in blood sugar levels in your body. Wildly fluctuating blood sugar levels usually tend you make you feel tired.
Being sedentary throughout the day can lead to low energy levels. This, in turn, leads to more inactivity as you are too tired to exercise, leading to a vicious cycle.
Not Consuming Enough Calories
Your body needs calories to carry out its various functions, and it uses them as fuel to provide you with energy. When your caloric consumption is lower than what your body needs every day, your metabolism slows down in an attempt to conserve energy, making you feel tired and fatigued. You can also feel tired and lethargic if you do not drink enough water as that can lead to dehydration.
Apart from these reasons, there can also be several physical or mental conditions that can contribute to you feeling tired and excessively sleepy.
Effects of Sleepiness
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Feeling overly sleepy during the day does not only have health-related effects on the body but can also put you at risk of accidents when you’re driving or mishaps at your workplace. This is all the more reason for you to focus on how to stay awake. Some of the effects that sleepiness has on the body are explained below.
Slower Thought Process
Sleepiness often leads to your thought process slowing down due to low mental alertness and concentration. This ultimately makes tasks that require you to think and reason seem tougher and more impossible, leading to impairment of judgement.
When you sleep, your brain consolidates your memories and converts short-term memories into long-term memories. But when you’re feeling excessively sleepy, you lose the ability to concentrate on the task at hand and are more likely to forget. This will ultimately interfere with your brain’s abilities to store information.
This is by far the biggest effect of sleepiness. When you’re feeling drowsy, your reflexes get slower, and your reaction times get longer. This can put you in dangerous situations when you’re driving or working with machines. Driving under drowsiness is as dangerous as driving when drunk. Also, sleepiness can directly affect your physical performance in sports and other activities.
Now that you know the effects of sleepiness on your body, let us take a look at some tips on how to stay awake and alert.
How to Stay Awake: 10 Tips to Keep You up Longer
Most articles on how to stay awake mention coffee and caffeine. However, these are not the only things that can help you in your quest to keep yourself up longer. Here are 10 tips on how to stay awake.
1. Move Around Frequently
Sitting around at your desk or on your couch can make you feel sleepy and lethargic. To shake it off and make you feel more alert, try taking a brisk 10-minute walk. Brisk walking helps improve blood flow to your organs, your muscles and your brain. Walking also increases your energy and wards off drowsiness, making you feel more refreshed and active.
2. Take a Nap
If you need to work for long hours, a trick that you can employ to keep yourself from falling asleep is to take a short power nap. But you have to exercise caution as napping for more than 25 minutes at a time can end up causing more harm than good. Ideally, make sure to keep your naps between 5 to 20 minutes, and refrain from taking naps too close to your bedtime as that might disrupt your normal sleep cycle. If you’re at work and cannot take a nap, simply closing your eyes and resting quietly for around 10 minutes should also help.
3. Rest Your Eyes Frequently
Continuously staring at a computer screen or any other electronic screen can put your eyes under severe strain and can end up causing you to feel sleepy and fatigued. To circumvent this problem, look away from the screen for a few minutes regularly. You can also keep your eyes closed for a few minutes to give them some much-needed rest. Also, washing your eyes with cold water is another great way to give your eyes a break.
4. Talk to Someone
If you feel really drowsy and unfocused, initiate a conversation with somebody. Engaging in conversations can really wake your mind up and can also help you bond with other people. Make sure to talk about something that you are interested in and not some random topic. This is because talking about topics you’re interested in keeps you engaged and does not let your mind wander off.
5. Turn Up the Lights
Working in a poorly-lit environment can decrease productivity and aggravate fatigue, thereby making you feel sleepier. Several studies have shown that turning up the lights and working in a brightly-lit environment can increase mental alertness and reduce sleepiness. If possible, try to let in sunlight to increase the brightness of the room rather than relying on artificial lights.
6. Take Deep Breaths
Taking deep breaths not only relaxes your body but also improves blood circulation, thereby increasing mental alertness. Deep breathing can be done anywhere and takes only two minutes. Sit up straight, and take a deep breath through your nose until your belly expands. Then, breathe out through your mouth. Do this exercise around 10 times for a quick yet effective boost of energy.
7. Get Some Sun
There’s a reason why humans are diurnal creatures. Our bodies require adequate exposure to sunlight to function properly. Several studies and researches have concluded that proper exposure to sunlight triggers the release of serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone produced by the body and is responsible for boosting your mood. Interestingly, serotonin also helps reduce the production of melatonin, which is the hormone responsible for making you feel sleepy. Spending just 30 minutes of your day out in the sun is enough for your body to produce enough serotonin to get your biological clock in order.
8. Eat a Power Snack
Going about your day on an empty stomach can cause you to feel groggy and sleepy. It is a good option to eat a small and healthy snack every four hours throughout the day to ensure that the fuel reserves in your body do not go empty. Make sure to not eat large meals or heavy snacks as that can make you foggy and lethargic. Instead, stick to snacks such as nuts, protein bars, peanut butter, yogurt, fresh fruits and carrots.
9. Use Essential Oils
Essential oils are among the most underrated solutions to your everyday problems. Oils such as jasmine, citrus and peppermint are strong and energizing scents that can help keep you alert and focused. You could light up an essential oil-scented candle on your table, or you could use a diffuser to disperse the scent into the air. Alternatively, you could also rub the oil on your palms or your temples.
10. Incorporate Some Exercises
Every guide on how to stay awake will tell you that exercise is the best way to get rid of sleepiness. Exercising regularly increases energy levels and reduces fatigue. It also helps you sleep better at night, thereby eliminating drowsiness during the daytime. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day, and make sure to back it up with nutritious food that is rich in protein and carbohydrates. If you’re ever feeling sleepy at work, you could do some quick exercises, such as pushups, sit-ups or squats to get yourself energized.
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These 10 tips on how to stay awake are merely illustrative and not exhaustive. Aside from the tips discussed in this guide on how to stay awake, there are tons of other ways in which you can keep yourself awake for longer. Even after following these 10 tips, if you ever find yourself nodding off at awkward times and places, you would be better off consulting a doctor or a sleep specialist. The cause of such excessive sleepiness might be an underlying medical condition, which may need to be treated as soon as possible.