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50 Ways To Stay Awake Even When You're Tired

Updated on August 26, 2014
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Susannah studied journalism and is a writer both online and off. She lives in Australia with her family.

Sleep is an important part of staying healthy and keeping your body at its best. But sometimes, there are times when you need to stay awake for an important reason, in which case you need to find a way to stop yourself nodding off.

Whether you're taking a long trip, studying for an exam or staying up with a teething baby, sometimes you just need that extra boost.

Warning: These are ideas only. If you need sleep or are driving a vehicle, it's important that you know when to take a break.

  1. Acupressure - Tap the top of your head, earlobes, just below the knee, the back of your neck or the back of your hand between thumb and index finger to work your acupressure points.
  2. Angry - Get worked up and angry about something. Did someone cut you off in traffic? Your best friend tell a secret? Get mad!
  3. Breakfast - Eating a good breakfast in the morning gives your body a great start to the day so it can go longer into the night.
  4. Avoid Clock Watching - The more you watch it, the slower it will go. Or the faster, if you're studying.
  5. Avoid Sleep Areas - Avoid being around reminders of sleep such as pillows, beds or couches. And don't put on your pyjamas!
  6. Breathe Deeply - This helps bring oxygen to your lungs and keep you alert.
  7. Brush Your Teeth - A good way to stimulate your mouth with the taste and feel, and a chance to go for a walk.
  8. Coffee - Hot or iced.
  9. Cold Environment - You'll feel more sluggish in a warm place. Turn up the air con or go somewhere cooler.
  10. Cold Water - Splash some cold water on your face or even have a cold shower. A hot shower is more likely to put you to sleep.
  11. Colors - Surround yourself with bright colors. Darker colors induce sleep.
  12. Company - Don't go it alone, get a friend to join you. Whether it's studying or driving, having a companion makes staying awake easier.
  13. Confusion - Look at something that contains a lot of cluttered or confusing material. Your brain (especially if you're a bit OCD!) will have trouble dealing with it. A variety of fonts or a wildly colored modern artwork will do the job.
  14. Discomfort - Don't let yourself get too comfortable. Use a straight backed chair or put yourself in a position where you won't be inclined to go to sleep.
  15. Drink - Being thirsty will interrupt your thought patterns and make it harder to concentrate.
  16. Earlobes - Pulling on your earlobes may sound strange, but it will help you stay alert.
  17. Energy Bars - Just be careful of the sugar rush and crash.
  18. Energy Drinks - Just make sure not to exceed the recommended daily limit.
  19. Exercise - To get your blood pumping.
  20. Eye Break - Take a few minutes away from whatever you're doing to rest your eyes and stop them feeling fatigued.
  21. Fasting - Your body spends energy digesting your food. Skipping a meal can help you save this energy for something else. Just remember to not let yourself get too hungry.
  22. Fruit & Carbs - Eat light foods like berries, oranges and apples or chips. Avoid foods that take awhile to digest or will feel heavy in your stomach like milk or bread.
  23. Games - A fast paced RPG or shooter game will get your adrenalin going. Take a ten minute break from what you're doing to have a quick game.
  24. Goals - Set yourself something to work towards. "I'll drive another 20km" or "I'll finish this chapter" are good short term goals that you can achieve.
  25. Gum - Chew some gum to help you remain alert. For an extra boost, try a strong flavor like peppermint.
  26. Ice - Chew ice. The chewing helps you stay awake and the cold helps as well.
  27. Laugh - A good laugh helps your body stay awake. Have a read of a joke book or have a funny conversation with a friend.
  28. Left Handed - Do something with your non dominant hand, such as draw a picture. This will help keep both sides of your brain active.
  29. Lights - Keep the lights on. Darkness makes you feel sleepier.
  30. Mental State - Stay positive and if you feel yourself going into the dazed mode, push yourself out of it. Think about a move, a joke or anything that'll wake you up.
  31. Music - Listen to some music with a good solid beat.
  32. Nap - Having a quick ten minute nap where your body doesn't go into deeper sleep can revive you.
  33. Pace Yourself - Do one thing at a time and don't try to pressure yourself into doing too many things at once.
  34. Pain - A little bit of pain such as a pinch can help you stay awake.
  35. Remove Layers - Take off your socks, or your jacket so your body has to adjust to the new sensations. Then put them back on.
  36. Reward Yourself - If you achieve a certain goal, give yourself a snack or a break or anything else to look forward to.
  37. Roll Your Head - Roll your head and neck around for about twenty seconds.
  38. Schedule - If you need to get something done, or drive somewhere, choose a time of day when you know your energy peaks. This my be after breakfast, when you get your second wind or 1am when you can't sleep!
  39. Sit Up Straight - Slouching will make you feel lazy and more tired.
  40. Scare Yourself - Look at pictures of spiders. Or watch a scary horror movie.
  41. Sleep - When you can that is. If you need to pull an all-nighter, get plenty of rest the day before.
  42. Smell - Strong smells will keep you awake. Get some essential oils or incense sticks. Rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus and pine oil are some good ones.
  43. Stand Up - Standing up puts your in an active frame of mind. Stand up for ten seconds before returning to what you were doing.
  44. Sweets - Suck on a hard boiled lolly or peppermint.
  45. Tea - Hot or iced.
  46. Temperature Change - Try putting yourself in a cold environment then a warm one, changing when you feel sleepy. For instance, while driving, change between heating and air conditioning your vehicle.
  47. Tickle Your Mouth - Run your tongue over the top of your mouth cavity. The uncomfortable sensation will wake you up!
  48. Toilet - Avoid going. The vaguely uncomfortable sensation you'll get will help you stay awake.
  49. Tongue - Run your tongue around the outside of your lips.
  50. Write - If you're in an environment where you have to pay attention but aren't doing much more than absorbing, try writing. It keeps your physically and mentally active and you're also more likely to remember things.


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