I am addicted to caffeine in the mornings. I can't start my day without a cup of coffee or a hot Americano to lure me out of my sleepy fog. Before I have my coffee, I'm like a lazy, sleepy cat; afterwards, I'm like a bouncy, excited puppy (which is the state of mind I like to bring to my daily tasks).
Caffeine is great, there's no doubt about it. Until... around 2pm, when my coffee high dwindles, and I start to crash. Rather than steady all-day energy, I'm stuck compromising – hyper-alert mornings, tired afternoons.
There's really only one way to deal with this problem, and that's to cut down on caffeine. But what will I do to feel more awake, if I can't have a cup of coffee?
I did some research, and compiled some excellent ways to stay awake – no coffee necessary. :)
It's a small, portable light that you can set on your desk at work. Used to treat seasonal affective disorder, research shows that blue-tinted white light can make you feel more alert, awake, and productive while brightening your mood, and even contributing to better sleep at night.
Gum is a classic study hack, turned to by college students everywhere to help with everything from staying awake in class to helping retain material. According to this British study, they're not wrong – chewing gum improves alertness, attention span, and even mood.
Take a Walk
Especially when you've been sitting on your bum for a while, taking a short, brisk walk can clear your head and hike up your energy levels. A Stanford study suggests it can even boost your creativity.
Studies show that singing or tapping along to a song increases alertness. Get that leg a-jiggling!
Massage Your Ear
Okay, okay. To Westerners, this might sound a little hokey, but traditional Chinese medicine insists: massaging your ear can increase energy. Worth a try, right?
Some people swear by it, others dismiss it point blank. Whatever, I don't mind smelling nice things. Try diffusing or wearing scents containing these notes: lemongrass to increase energy, basil to clear the mind, rosemary to promote memory retention, and cloves to help you focus up.
I'm not sure how well-documented this is, because it was hard to find any kind of scientific supporting evidence for this one, but ginger is rumored to boost your energy, improve alertness, help with digestion, and even suppress appetite. That's a lot of good stuff, so you might as well give it a try! Have a cup of ginger tea, or take a supplement.
Turn Upside Down
Do a backbend or lay with your head hanging off the edge of your bed for a minute. Blood, oxygen, and nutrients will rush to the brain, supposedly helping you feel more awake!
A short nap, between 5 and 25 minutes, can help increase alertness. Any longer than that might leave you feeling tired and disoriented, so be careful!
Take An Eye Break
The guideline I've found online is this: to avoid eye strain and fatigue, every 20 minutes, look at something around 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Easy enough!
Eat a Healthy Snack
Beyoncé be all like, "How 'bout them apples?" Sometimes low blood sugar can be the culprit behind fatigue. Eat a healthy snack to get your blood sugar back up, and feel your tiredness disappear!
Start a Conversation
You know how revved up you get when you talk about politics? Get your mind moving with a quick chat. It'll have the added benefit of giving your mind a little break from whatever you're working on, so you can come back fresh and with new ideas.
Of course, I'm going to mention this one. You guys know me. @alywoah would probably tell you the same thing. ;) This is one of the best ways to have more energy in your daily life – trust me, you won't regret starting a new exercise regime.
Any other pro tips on how to feel more alert without caffeine? Share them in the comments below!