Woman looking out the window in the train

How To Feel More Awake Without Caffeine or Exercising

We’ve all been there. Whether it’s pandemic fatigue, sleep deprivation, or extensive WFH hours, there are some days you just can’t seem to stay awake and keep your eyes open. Even after you’ve inhaled your strongest morning brew and finished your routine morning workout, these aren’t quite enough to keep your eyelids from slowly sliding to a close.

Woman struggling to stay awake on the train

However, the midday to evening lull doesn’t have to be countered strictly through doing burpees or whipping up a cup of instant coffee. Here are a few simple tips to help you regain focus when you feel that post-lunch coma coming around.


1. Spark joy within your workspace

Desk workspace with laptop and books

The age-old principle of how cluttered spaces make for cluttered minds perhaps holds some truth, as its impact has shown to be not just physical, but mentally taxing as well. According to Kristen Fuller, MD, excessive physical clutter leads to feelings of discomfort, generating negativity towards your home. Inevitably, a less-than-optimal space might result in feeling exhausted or overwhelmed. Once in a while during the day, take a few minutes to reorganize your workspace.


2. Walk the walk

Physical movement is a natural way to wake the body up and refresh the mind, having been backed up by several studies. With jobs moving into the digital sphere, we’re accustomed to spending six to eight hours a day in front of our screens – and those are just our working hours.


Research generally suggests incorporating some form of activity every 30 minutes to an hour. However, it doesn’t have to be an extensive workout. Something as simple as walking from one room to the other is a quick way to physically distance yourself from your work fog. It also helps you mentally recalibrate for better focus when you return to your desk.


3. Keep awake with an eyedrop break

It might sound like a joke, but it truly works to help you feel more awake. Applying eye drops during a daytime daze is refreshing, effortless, and perks you right back up. The best part is you kill two birds with one stone. Its effects are felt immediately, and you’re protecting your sight! Since we’re constantly exposing our eyes to the blue light emitted by various devices throughout the day, it’s important to give them some well-deserved TLC too. If nothing else, at least your eyes will be moisturized and well-loved!


4. Take a breather

We mean this literally. As strange as it sounds, breathing might be the thing we take the most for granted because we aren’t conscious of our breath. Many of us grow up shallow breathers, without fully inhaling through to our stomachs.


The good news is that there are numerous methods to improve our deep breathing technique, from box breathing to alternate nostril breathing. On top of improving blood circulation, deep breathing also neurally generates endorphins – the chemicals that produce that familiar post-workout high. This naturally jolts you into fuller consciousness and keeps you in a calmer, happier mental state.


5. When in doubt, stretch it out

Woman stretching on a yoga mat to stay awake

Don’t worry, you can skip the yoga mat for this one. Healthline has some fuss-free stretches without you needing to leave your chair. While the physical health benefits of stretching are well-known, it also brings a wide berth of positive benefits to your mind. Channel all your concentration into performing specific movements; It’s a soothing way to relieve stress while breaking you out of your heavy-eyed slump.


6. Keep it on speaking terms

With the majority of us stuck at home and working, it’s easy to feel slightly isolated at times, even if you might not be the only one in the house. When you’ve groggily read a sentence thrice and still can’t understand it, try taking a few minutes to strike up a conversation with people you live with. Ask them about their day and how they feel, or about their work and what they’re busy with.


For the solo dwellers: instead of willing the words to make sense, try them reading out loud to register them. Even if you still don’t get it, speech may be able to jog your mind and get it moving again.


7. Snooze at the right time

The best way to stay awake during the day? Get a good night’s sleep. Remember: rest is an equally vital component to a well-balanced life. It recharges you physically and mentally to keep you healthy and naturally awake during the day.

Woman sleeping on a bed

If you find yourself getting caught up in a social media spiral at night, allow yourself an hour of “me time” before settling down for sleep. Set daily reminders to alert you when that time is up. Then, switch off your devices for the night to enjoy at least seven hours of quality beauty sleep.



Resetting your mindset doesn’t have to be difficult, especially with these fuss-free methods. You can choose to get physical by stretching, walking, and tidying up, or take it easy by talking and unwinding with some deep breaths. So the next time you feel yourself dozing off during the day, avoid reaching for the caffeine immediately and give these simple methods a try instead!

Shufei is, in no particular order: a copywriter, peanut butter aficionado, serial overthinker and literature enthusiast.

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