Why Get Up Early is a blog that is mostly dedicated to the art and science of waking up early, but this particular post is about ways to wake up at work, school or other common places – but not necessarily early. Many of us (myself included sometimes) struggle with simply staying alert and productive in the middle of the day. Sometimes it’s because I’m tired and sometimes, quite frankly, it’s because I’m bored!
There are a ton of ways to wake up as I have demonstrated in this epic blog post containing all my common as well as wacky ways to wake up that everyone should try. However, the act of waking up or being alert is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor and I hope to drive this point home in this blog post.
I want to share some of my favorite ways to wake up so you can be present in your life on a day-to-day basis – despite the circumstances.
Some of us are working in a traditional 9-to-5 workplace and struggle to stay awake at our desk or at meetings, some are students who struggle to stay awake during class or while studying, some are stay-at-home moms or dads… You get the idea. This blog post will cater to all these groups’ challenges and suggest ways wake up for everyone.
Ways to Wake Up at Work
Let’s be honest here: Most (99.9999999999999%) of us are at work because we need to make money. That percentage is highly scientific, btw! 😉 Anyway, nobody is there for the heck of it and we all know that, regardless of whether we acknowledge that truth amongst our coworkers or not.
When your job is at a desk and involves extensive sitting, dozing off or losing concentration is just a fact of life. We are not meant to sit at desks and stare at computer screens for 8 hours a day. Why do you often go home and do the same thing for a few more hours…? The mysteries of life!
In order to get some work done and not get fired, we need to break out some effective ways to wake up ASAP – AKA #wakeuphacks
Wake Up Hacks for the Office
- Sit up straight in your chair. Slumping makes you sleepy. If you sit up nice and straight with your shoulders back and your chest out, you’ll notice a difference in your level of alertness immediately.
- Get up as frequently as you can to take a short walk. Go outside in the sunlight to catch some natural energy-creating vitamin D if you can.
- Get a standing desk (try this cool adjustable platform that allows you to stand or sit!) or sit on an exercise ball if your workplace allows it.
- Eat some citrus fruit or an apple. This works best if you can eat the fruit chilled, straight out of the refrigerator.
- Eat some other healthy snack that gives long-lasting energy such as nuts, carrot sticks with peanut butter, granola, etc.
- Drink cool water with a slice of lemon or lime. Stay hydrated throughout the day.
- Eat a square or two of dark chocolate. A small bit of dark chocolate cures everything. 🙂
- Try Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique, if your line of work allows for it. Work in focused chunks of 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break at the sound of the timer. During the 25-minute work time, do not look at your phone, check email, or respond to any distractions. It’s literally head down focus time where the rest of the world does not exist for 25 minutes at a time. After 4 Pomodoro cycles, take a longer break for 20 to 30 minutes before starting any additional rounds of Pomodoros.
Ways to Wake Up During Meetings
Ugh. I dread most meetings. In a majority of cases, except for creative or technical types of meetings, they aren’t productive and are a waste of time. I think we’ve all been to at least one meeting where we wish we could just take a nap or go do something useful like watching paint dry.
Many meetings end up being a circle jerk fest between egotistical managers and executives who like to ask for your opinion for the sake of optics, but have no intention of considering your input… ever. But I digress…
To wake up for a meeting, preparation is a must. Most of the tips below pertain to actions you can take before you even walk in the conference room.
Wake Up Hacks for Meetings
- Drink some green tea if the meeting starts more than 7 hours before you plan to go to sleep (so it doesn’t delay your bedtime.) I find that green tea gives me the right amount of creativity, optimism, energy, and alertness without feeling jittery. I don’t consume caffeine every day, but if there’s an important meeting and paying attention is an absolute must, I’ve been known to indulge in a cup or two of my favorite loose leaf jasmine green tea. This stuff is a life-saver if you don’t drink it daily and save it for an important weekly meeting, for example. I could go on for days about how lovely the jasmine smells and tastes… but I won’t. 🙂
- Put on some peppermint or spearmint lip balm or pop a mint. Mint wakes you up immediately and gets you all tingly. If you’ve never tried this particular peppermint lip balm, you’ve been missing out.
- Chew gum. Similar to a mint, chewing gum keeps you alert. Even better if it’s mint gum.
- Just as you would do when working at your desk, get up and take a walk (preferably outside in the sunlight) just prior to the meeting starting.
- Before you walk into the meeting, make sure you aren’t hungry. Eat a snack such as a citrus fruit, apple, or complex carb like granola that will give you sustained energy.
- Rehydrate. Drink a cup of water before the meeting starts.
- Go in the bathroom and wash your face with cold water. Make sure all those annoying eye boogers are out of the corners of your eyes.
- Make sure you don’t need to use the toilet before the meeting starts. If you drank a lot of water, tea, or coffee, make sure to time it right so you can empty your bladder just prior to the meeting starting.
- Sit up straight, just like you should be doing at your desk. Slumping disengages you as you start to nod off into dreamland.
- Bring a notepad and pen. Even if it’s not necessary to take notes, the act of writing will allow you to focus on what is being said during the meeting and helps to organize your thoughts. It’s not even necessary to take actual notes; some people pay attention better when they can doodle on a pad of paper.
- Try to make sure you’re not hot while sitting in the meeting room. Warm rooms make it easy to fall asleep. You can’t always control the temperature of the room, but if you can and it’s too warm – speak up. A minimum, take off your jacket or sweater.
Ways to Wake Up in the Classroom
Sometimes, lectures can be a snoozefest waiting to happen. Maybe the instructors do it on purpose, or maybe they don’t, but many of them are boring as beans. As a student, it’s your job to make the most of every lecture, regardless of how entertaining it is. There can be important exam content given out that you won’t learn from your textbooks or someone else’s notes.
It can be incredibly useful to record every lecture with your phone so that you can watch or listen to it later so that paying full attention at the time of the lecture becomes optional. However, some classes do not allow recordings, in which case it’s time to wake up, Buttercup. Welcome to adulthood.
Wake Up Hacks for the Classroom
- Like all the office workers of the world, sit up straight in your chair. Don’t slump. You’ll notice instantly that you’re able to wake up when you do this. Keep your back straight, your shoulders slightly pressed back, and your chest slightly pushed outward. Sit tall and proud!
- Bring a pillow or cushion for your seat if you find it to be uncomfortable.
- Have your note-taking system front and center on the table. This could be a laptop, tablet, or old school pencil and paper. Taking active notes while the professor is lecturing is a tried and true way to wake up in class.
- Chew mint gum. Have more at the ready when the gum in your mouth loses its flavor. Mint makes your alert and the act of chewing helps you focus.
- Bring a water bottle with a lemon or lime slice inside. Sip the water throughout the class. Citrus gets the serotonin (feel-good hormones) flowing and the hydration provided by the water keeps you alert.
- Meditate before class starts to clear your mind. Leave your worries and distractions at the door and consciously decide to focus only on the material that is being covered in class. Your mind can be your greatest enemy or your greatest ally, so why not intentionally make it your ally? A clear mind with a clear purpose is the ultimate way to wake up.
- Drink a cup or two of green tea or yerba mate before class starts. I linked to my fav loose leaf jasmine green tea in the ways to wake up for meetings section, but here it is again. It’s totally worth it to invest in good quality loose leaf tea as opposed to drinking coffee or energy drinks so you’re not crashing later on. Tea provides you with a non-jittery way to wake up. This yerba mate with mint is a cool option, too. That’s an Amazon link if you want to buy a case of it, or you can also find it at Whole Foods, some convenience stores, etc.
Ways to Wake Up While Studying
Sitting down to study is so much easier said than done. However, you already know you can’t do it while nodding off.
Every student needs a laundry list of ways to wake up while studying in their arsenal in order to combat the almost constant temptation to sleep – even if you got a full 8 hours of sleep. Alert, efficient study sessions are the key to success for every student.
Wake Up Hacks for Studying
- Find the times of day you feel most alert and study during those times. If you’re not sure when is best, it might be useful to monitor your levels of alertness over the course of a few days and write down the times you feel alert. Look for patterns and respect these times.
- Study using the Pomodoro Technique. If you only expect yourself to stay awake for 25 minutes at a time, that’s doable, right?
- Get up and take a walk during your Pomodoro breaks.
- Take a 30-minute power nap just prior to starting a study marathon or as one of your longer Pomodoro breaks. Yeah, you read that correctly… in order to wake up, sometimes you need to sleep! 🙂
- Study outside in the sunlight. Vitamin D production is a great way to wake up to study.
- Allow for a change of scenery in the middle of a study session. For example, start out your study session at the library, then take it outside under a tree half-way through.
- Dab some citrus essential oil on your upper lip or massage a couple drops on your temples, wrists, or neck. Citrus promotes serotonin production, which will get the happy, alert vibes flowing. May I recommend Brain Aid from Amazon? Awesome stuff and very affordable!
- Take a snack break.
- Listen to instrumental focus music with earbuds or headphones. Plenty of free options on YouTube!
- Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water.
- Study with a classmate. Read a section of text and quiz each other on it.
Ways to Wake Up for Moms & Dads
Having an infant or toddler who doesn’t sleep through the night is rough. Very rough, in fact. My son is 15 now and I have to almost pry him out of bed sometimes, but I can clearly remember the sleepless nights and super early, sleep-deprived mornings back in 2003. The days and nights seemed to just run together to form one giant, sleepless block of time. I was the zombie in my very own zombie movie.
While feeding my son, on several occasions I remember watching the 1993 movie Groundhog Day for some much-needed laughs because every day was the same exhausted mess with no end in sight. Sometimes a little humor is the only thing that can dull the pain of exhaustion.
When I look back now, though, I realize that I loved every minute of his infant days… Even if I was a half-awake, caffeine-grabbing, apocalyptic creature who could only shower every
If you’re the parent of a baby or toddler who is preventing you from getting enough sleep, just know that this too shall pass. Try to enjoy the time while they are little and don’t focus on how tired you are. In the meantime, here are some ways to wake yourself up when your kid needs you at an inopportune time:
Wake Up Hacks for New Moms & Dads
- If you can, sleep when your kid sleeps – including during naps. This will give you a better chance of being somewhat energetic when they wake you up in the middle of the night or at the crack of dawn.
- Splash cold water on your face or take a quick cool shower.
- Use eyedrops on your tired eyes. I recommend these preservative-free drops from Amazon because they are much cheaper than those of comparable quality.
- Engage in some physical exercise, even if it’s just for 2 or 3 minutes. A round of jumping jacks will wake up an exhausted parent! You may not feel like doing it at first, but when you’re finished, you’ll be glad you pushed yourself to do it. Once a day for 2 or 3 minutes is all it takes.
- Do some deep breathing to renew and invigorate yourself. This article has some great deep breathing exercises aimed at new moms, but dads can and should try these, too!
Regardless of which of the ways to wake up that you decide to use, it’s best to avoid constantly reaching for caffeine as a way to wake up. Making caffeine your automatic go-to will cause it to become ineffective and you will need increasing amounts in order to have the same stimulative effect you had in the beginning. Also, your body will not have an off switch, which interferes with the rest you should be getting – potentially causing thyroid and adrenal fatigue, among other issues. Caffeine helps in the
Ways to Wake Up & Avoid the Afternoon Slump
It’s so predictable! Around 3 or 4 pm is when the infamous afternoon energy slump hits most people. This is especially true if you work in an office with few to no windows under artificial lighting. This environment literally drains the life out of you.
If you must spend your workdays at a place of this variety, you need to come to work prepared. Expect that the afternoon slump is going to attack you and be ready with some effective ways to wake up so that you can make it through this unscathed. When it comes to that sleepy, lazy after-lunch feeling, it’s not a matter of if it’s going to hit you – it’s a matter of when.
When it comes to making it out of the afternoon slump awake, it’s all about playing the mental game. Scents, water, and healthy snacks, my friend! And a laugh or two! At this point in the day, you’re probably as bored as you are tired. These wake-up tips should help those of us who suffer at our desks in the afternoon while pretending to work:
Wake Up Hacks to Avoid the Afternoon Slump
- Drink some water with lemon or lime slices immediately after lunch. It’s important to rehydrate and get some serotonin-inducing citrus in your system.
- Apply some citrus-scented essential oil, lip balm, or body lotion.
- Go outside in the direct sunlight and take a brief, but brisk walk. Get your blood pumping and the vitamin D flowing! A 5 to 15-minute walk is sufficient.
- If it’s allowed, burn a citrus, mint, or jasmine-scented candle at your desk. Here is one of my favorites if you want to check it out. There are tons of options, though – especially on Amazon. Whatever candle you choose, make sure it’s a real candle and not one of those lame flameless candles.
- Lollygag at the water cooler, in the hallway or in the break room with some coworkers for a few minutes. Make each other laugh. Laughing lifts the spirits and yes, it is an awesome way to wake up! As I always say: laugh loud and often!
- Eat an energizing snack. You guessed it: an orange or apple. Or a small salad with greens.
- Try these super awesome gummies. They work.
- Avoid caffeine this late in the day or else you’re going to regret it at bedtime. Caffeine is the last thing you need to dig yourself out of an afternoon energy slump.
- Avoid sugar (aside from the fructose naturally present in fruit) because you will crash before the workday comes to a close.
- Again, as I’ve mentioned in other desk-related ways to wake up, sit up straight and proud in your chair! Great posture wakes you up every time – even when you’re bored and disinterested in work.
- Get up from your desk every 30 to 60 minutes to stretch and take a short stroll.
Ways to Wake Up Late at Night
Sometimes it’s necessary to wake up late at night due to working the graveyard shift or to care for a loved one. Sometimes, pulling an all-nighter to study for finals is a necessary evil. Or sometimes (gasp!) people actually want to stay awake late into the night. As an early riser, I scoff at you! (Just kidding. I used to be a night owl myself!)
Whatever your life situation, the truth is that some peopl can’t or may not want to wake up early
Wake Up Hacks for Nighttime
- Leave all the lights on. Lights suppress your melatonin production, causing you to remain alert or to increase alertness. This is an easy way to wake up and catch your second wind.
- Watch an action, horror, or suspense movie.
- Listen to upbeat music. I highly recommend dancing to go along with it!
- Find a fellow friend of the night to talk to – in person, on the phone, or via video chat.
- If you’re driving or studying and have to stay awake all night, caffeine is your friend. But not too much caffeine. Just 2 cups of whatever you’re drinking.
- If at all possible, get 7 to 9 hours of sleep during the day. Try to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
- Engage in some positive thinking. What is your purpose in life? Get excited and start taking action right now! If you’re up late, make the most of it by taking the necessary steps to improve your life.
- Do some writing. Even though it’s not morning, Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages exercise is one of my favorite ways to wake up. Watch the video!