falling-asleep-at-work

7 Effective Tips To Stay Awake At Work For Good

Heidi Cope
by Heidi Cope
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If you’re reading this article you’re probably terrified of falling asleep at work and are trying to figure out how to prevent it from happening.

Let’s face it — we’ve all probably been there: you’re sitting at work and find yourself nodding off. Whether you are bored or have been overworked, getting tired on the job at some point or another is bound to happen. That doesn’t mean that falling asleep at work is any more acceptable, especially if you have jobs that require intense focus and concentration, like firefighters, surgeons and bus drivers.

So why are you constantly nodding off and what can you do to prevent yourself from catching a few Zs at work?


Here are strategies to avoid falling asleep at work:

  • Make work as interesting as possible, whether that be with music, dance breaks or with your favorite podcast in the background.
  • Distract yourself from the fatigue with essential oils, exercise or social breaks.
  • Work on a long-term fatigue-reduction plan by implementing some positive lifestyle changes.

Now that you have the main takeaways, let’s talk about what you can say to your boss if you’re caught falling asleep at work and what you can do to prevent it from happening in the future.

How To Explain Falling Asleep At Work

If you are reading this article, you’ve probably experienced that terrible moment when you’re suddenly woken up by your boss calling attention to your daytime napping situation.

Sometimes, falling asleep can be understandable when you’ve had a crazy week or two and the entire team is trying to push through to the end of a project. Everyone is at the end of their energy and struggling, so falling asleep for a few minutes so you can keep plowing on ahead might not be a huge problem.

However, if you have been consistently sleeping at work and find it hard to stay awake even though you’ve had enough sleep, bigger problems can arise. Employers want their employees to be as productive as possible with their time — they don’t want to be paying you to nap.

So what can you say if you are caught falling asleep at work?

The first thing you need to do if caught falling asleep at work is apologizing. Make it known that you know this is not acceptable behavior. Most importantly, however, make a plan and share with your boss about how you will prevent falling asleep at work from happening in the future.

In order to prevent falling asleep from happening at work from happening, you need to understand why you are falling asleep in the first place. Keep reading to help figure out why you are falling asleep at work.

What Can Cause You To Fall Asleep Often At Work

Falling asleep at work can happen for a variety of reasons and some of them may even be out of your control. But before you blame your falling asleep at work on those reasons, let’s look at other reasons why you might have trouble staying awake at your desk.

Here are some reasons why you and sleep have become fast friends at work:

  1. Boredom
  2. Screen time
  3. You don’t enjoy your job
  4. Burnout and/or overworked
  5. Stress
  6. Hungover

You might have read the above list and thought, “I can’t fix those reasons at work.” But the truth is that a lot of your work environment is more flexible than you think it is. If you are bored or don’t enjoy your job, sign up to help with new projects, create some rec sports leagues with your coworkers or take short breaks throughout the workday and do something that motivates you. You can also consider applying to new jobs that might be a better fit for you.

Lots of screen time can both wire up your brain and also make your eyes exhausted. During the day, protect your eyes by reminding yourself to blink and set a timer on your watch for an eye break once an hour. At night, limit screen time so that your brain has a chance to wind down and get a good night’s rest.

If you are burnt out or overworked, make sure you take self-care breaks and create work boundaries for home and your off-hours. Burnout and stress go hand-in-hand, so make sure you take the time to manage your stress.

And finally, maybe you’re just a little hungover. If you are falling asleep after a late night out and one too many beers, consider limiting your weeknight activities. And remember: Sunday night is a weeknight.

If none of these reasons apply to you, you might consider medical options that might be causing your daytime sleepiness:

  1. Chronic health conditions like diabetes or sleep disorders
  2. Depression or another mental illness
  3. Medication side effects

Many health conditions can increase daytime sleepiness and fatigue. If you are falling asleep constantly at work, consider discussing this problem with your primary care physician.

falling-asleep-at-work

Tips To Prevent Falling Asleep At Work

In the section above, we gave you some tips for long-term reduction of falling asleep at work. But what if you’re struggling right now and need to find your focus? You might be inclined to reach for another cup of coffee or an energy drink, but more caffeine isn’t always the answer.

Here are a few ways to prevent falling asleep on the job:

  1. Stand up and try using a standing desk
  2. Take several brief breaks and walk around the building
  3. Drink a lot of water to prevent dehydration
  4. Listen to upbeat music
  5. Open the blinds on your windows and keep the space bright
  6. Eat healthy, protein-rich snacks
  7. Use an essential oil diffuser

Summary On Staying Awake At Work

Staying awake and focused for the entire workday, seven days a week can be difficult. Many people have felt drowsy at work, but unfortunately, falling asleep at work does not make you look like a hard-working employee.

That’s why we’ve given you tips and tricks to staying awake at work. Daytime sleepiness is often a problem that can be helped by some easy lifestyle changes. However, sometimes you need in-the-moment help to stay awake. In addition to reaching for another cup of coffee, try out some of our other tips like exercise, snacks, and music.

Although being caught falling asleep can be nerve-wracking, this article can help you create an action plan to prevent it from happening in the future so you’ll get back on track to be your company’s next employee of the month.

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