12 Ways to Wake Yourself Up Before You PTFO at Your Desk

12 Ways to Wake Yourself Up Before You PTFO at Your Desk

John Francis

There are two types of people in this world: Those who snooze their alarm approximately 20 times before they get up, like moi, and those who set one alarm and just…get up? Superhumans, if you ask me.

But no one is immune to the midday slump. You know, the wave of tiredness that hits right as your boss is giving an important presentation or your prof decides to call on you in class.

Not. Fun. And unless your work or school is super chill, you can’t exactly drop everything and take a nap. Sure, you could grab a cup of coffee. But you’ll probably just crash in a few hours—or stay you up all night. Plus, coffee and naps take time and I prefer an immediate result. I’m gen Z.

Don’t start panic Googling ‘How can I wake myself up fast?’ or ‘How do you wake your brain up?’ And definitely don’t splash cold water on your face. That sounds terrible. I’m here to help. From aromatherapy (the smell of peppermint apparently works wonders) to special light therapy glasses, here are 12 ways to wake yourself up when you’re feeling the urge to pass out. 1. Get some sunlight

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If you’re feeling tired, try to go outside and get some natural sunlight, says Whitney Roban , PhD, family, educational and corporate sleep specialist. That’ll prevent your body from producing melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel sleepy.

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If you’re usually stuck inside, invest in a light box or a pair of light therapy glasses that emit light to mimic sunlight, suggests Joshua Tal , PhD, a sleep psychologist based in New York City. Your circadian rhythm, aka your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, will see the light as a sign that it’s time to be active and tell your body to release wakefulness hormones like cortisol to keep you awake. Yay! 2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

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“Research suggests that hydration increase alertness, productivity, cognitive performance and memory,” says Dr. Roban. That’s huge, considering all of those things typically decline when you’re feeling tired.

“On the days I feel tired, I often notice just as much of a boost in energy from two cups of water as I would from drinking one cup of coffee,” adds Alex Dimitriu, MD, double board-certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine and founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine .

Keep a water bottle on your desk to remind you to stay hydrated. Yeah, you’ll probably have to pee all the time. But getting up and moving around for bathroom breaks is actually a great way to wake up too, Dr. Dimitriu adds.

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How Much Water Do You Need to Drink? 3. Stress out

Ok, this isn’t the most fun way to wake yourself up, but it works. Read a stressful email, or think about everything you have to get done for the day. Doing so will raise the levels of cortisol (remember that wakefulness hormone we talked about earlier?) and make you feel more alert, says Dr. Tal. Just please don’t try this strategy if you’re prone to anxiety, K? 4. Exercise a little

Go for a quick walk or do a few jumping jacks for an instant energy boost. “When we exercise, our body releases hormones such as endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. These hormones decrease stress, improve mood, and increase alertness,” explains Dr. Roban. But don’t try to go for a long run or lift weights if you’re already feeling tired. An intense workout will only leave you feeling more tired, says Dr. Tal. So if you’re feeling sleepy, consider this your formal excuse to skip the gym. You’re welcome. 5. Put on your favorite playlist

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Open Spotify, my friend. Tons of studies have found that listening to music can increase your focus and productivity, which will help you power through that 3 p.m. slump. If you really wanna wake up fast, put on something like hard rock or classical music, suggests Dr. Tal. Both of these types of music can stimulate your senses and make you feel more alert. 6. Sip on a bubbly drink

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Drinking a carbonated bev like seltzer or soda also stimulates your senses, helping you wake up, says Dr. Tal. Just keep in mind that if you go the soda route, you’re prob gonna crash again in an hour or two when the sugar wears off. 7. Take some deep breaths

Um, easiest solution ever. Breathing deeply for two to three minutes improves oxygenation—the process of introducing oxygen to your system—which helps the brain stay awake, says Dr. Dimitriu. Fresh air also helps, so try to get outside to take your deep breaths if you can, he says. 8. Try aromatherapy

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Another way to stimulate your senses and increase alertness is to sniff an invigorating scent like peppermint or eucalyptus, says Dr. Tal. Get an essential oil roll-on, or a cute ‘lil diffuser for your desk to help wake you up. But, JFYI, this isn’t the most scientifically-backed approach, warns Dr. Roban. While tons of people say the smells of peppermint and eucalyptus energize them, there isn’t a lot of data on whether it works. 9. Repeat a mantra

When you’re tired, focusing on the fact that you’re about to doze off can actually make you feel even more tired, says Dr. Tal. It’s basically the definition of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, he says, find a mantra like ‘carpe diem’ or ‘I’m gonna make today my bitch’ (ok, that one’s from me) that will make you focus on staying awake. This will trick your mind into feeling […]

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