Things To Do When You Are Tired, But Still Need To Work

Martin Brinkmann
May 14, 2011
Updated • Jan 10, 2014

It happens that I get tired in the late afternoons, so tired in fact that I'm hard pressed not to go to bed directly to sleep the sleep of the brave. This happens often after a restless night, or when I wake up too early.

The following list contains tips that help me stay awake in those situations. Remember that I work at home and that some may not be suitable for your situation.

Lets start with the things to do when you are tired and need to overcome that tiredness.

Take a nap

This sounds counter-productive at first, especially if you do not wake up after 20 minutes of power napping. I often lay down on the couch, close my eyes and try to relax. I'm pretty good at waking up at the time that I want to wake up, no need for setting the alarm. If you are a heavy sleeper you may need an alarm, or someone else waking you.

Sometimes I put on my headphones and listen to music, with eyes closed. The music gives me an understanding of the time that has passed since starting the nap.

Drink Coffee, Black Tea, Caffeine, Water

I do not drink coffee or other caffeine containing drinks after five in the afternoon though as I do not sleep well if I overdo it. If you do not care, you could get the much needed boost with a cup of hot coffee.

You may also feel tired because you are dehydrated. Try to drink enough water throughout the day to avoid this from happening.

Chewing Gum

I do not know why, but chewing gum helps me stay awake. Maybe it is because it stimulates face muscles, maybe it is because of something else. If you do not have caffeine around, you may want to try chewing gum instead.

Walk, preferably outside

A short walk, preferably outside, helps me stay awake as well. Sometimes I walk to the nearest market to buy chewing gum (haha). Walking in combination with fresh air and sunlight seems to push away the feeling of tiredness.

If you cannot leave, try tapping your feet or moving your body on the chair. Take a short break to go to the toilet. While there, get some cold water on your hands and face. You can also open a window and stick your head outside for a while to get some fresh air.

Eat something light

Light eating may also revive your body up to a point where you can get through the day without dozing off. Do not eat something with too much sugar though. Nuts, Vegetables like carrots, a wholemeal sandwich with cheese are all things that you can eat.

Talk to someone

If you have someone nearby, start talking to them for a couple minutes. If possible, get up and walk with them while doing the talking.

Turn up the lights, if light is dim

Working in half-darkness or full darkness is not only not good for the eyes, but it can make you sleepy as well. Make sure you work under excellent lighting conditions.

Open a window, change room temperature

You may want to open a window to get fresh air into the room. This can help if the room temperature appears to be to warm, especially if you do not have access to the heating system to adjust the temperature.

I know that this is not the usual article you find here at Ghacks, but please bear with me on this one. To make it better, let me know how you overcome tiredness!


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  1. It's true! said on October 24, 2022 at 9:11 pm

    My advice for staying awake is to drink coffee with vodka. Vodka gives you a lot of quick energy so you can power through your day and be a champion!

  2. oyin said on December 28, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    is not what i mean like if i am doing my homework and it is very much and i am to submit it the next day what should i do

  3. HOT POTATO said on October 11, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    im still tired and to lazy to finishe my work though

  4. Martin said on November 18, 2014 at 1:12 am

    Make a list of all your activities you have to do. Put a time behind each activity to complete. Be proud on yourself after each task you have completed. Be good to yourself by do somthing you enjoying. Pick a flower, pamper yourself with a little perfume or what ever after amour of work. Feel great and thank the Lord for the tasks you have done, even if you couldn’t make it through all the work. Eat healthy, and put your thoughts on posigive things

  5. Zoe said on January 10, 2014 at 4:36 am

    I am tired and I have to go to work I don’t fill like going to work but I have to I am nearly falling asleep on my bed and now I don’t fill like go to a concert tonight

  6. KRS said on May 16, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Several years ago, a NY Times Science item said that 1/4 cut of coffee is just as effective at combating drowsiness as a giant one. It works for me, and I can have several quarter-cups over the course of an afternoon without getting manic.

    Also, the effect of caffeine is stronger with small separated amounts. I take one sip, work for one minute and take the next. It’s like one of the standard way of getting drunk by drinking a shot glass of beer once a minute.

    The color red keeps me alert. I made a Word file called red.docx which has the foreground and background set to the bright red (the next-to-the-left choice on Standard Colors bar). I load it and switch to it whenever I’m not using the keyboard. You could also set it up as a screen saver with a short wait.

  7. Mystique said on May 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Don’t forget to use f.lux too, it takes a while to get used to but it is decent, I never got used to it but my sleeping patterns were completely bizarre.

  8. Ross Presser said on May 15, 2011 at 7:42 am

    While working under good lighting is very good, a bright monitor is often very bad. Dark color schemes (cyan on dark gray, for example) help keep your eyes from getting tired. And especially when you’re in bed with the laptop at night trying to “relax”, keep that monitor dim. Otherwise your brain gets the message that it’s still sunny out.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 15, 2011 at 9:56 am

      Good advice. Problem is, I have to keep the brightness of my monitor at 100%. If I do not, I hear a high pitching noise that is driving me crazy. I do however use the video card control center to dim the light.

  9. Robert Palmar said on May 15, 2011 at 12:46 am

    The most important thing I did was something I thought I could never do.
    Awake in the morning the same time every day including weekends.
    All the circadian rhythms of the body get in sync over time
    and being more alert through the day and needing
    less rest is a key benefit once they all do.

  10. Paul(us) said on May 14, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    When you want to take a refreshing power nap i have learned on medical school, that you should never sleep on the couch. When you want to take a power nap always sleep on your bed this because your power nap, is than something around 2,1 times ( yes you are reading this correct) as affective. An outer thing is that you should never take a power nap which is longer than 22-29 minutes. And last and and maybe the most important part after awaking up from this power nap, take at least something like 5 minutes to wake up properly and let your physical system (body) start up again before you come up (around 4 minutes) and after that stand up (1 minute) .

    1. Student said on January 10, 2021 at 8:31 am

      I took nap at 18:20
      Woke up at 7:40
      This is second day in a row

      1. Tom Hawack said on January 10, 2021 at 5:51 pm

        @Student, a good sleep participates to our natural immunity which is essential facing viruses.
        Staying in the mood of surrealistic comments to remind a truly realistic threat.
        I wonder if anyone will return to this article in another decade. January 2031.

      2. Anonymous said on March 10, 2021 at 3:44 am

        nothing gives me more comfort than these types of internet interactions :)
        now I’m ready to come back stronger after this nap let’s gooo

    2. @ said on September 11, 2020 at 1:05 am

      people like me still respond 2020

      1. Iamtoo said on October 24, 2022 at 9:02 pm

        Yes you do!

    3. Martin Brinkmann said on May 14, 2011 at 11:12 pm

      Interesting, I will try it ;)

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