Get psyched!

HOW TO STAY AWAKE WITH­OUT REACH­ING FOR CAF­FEINE.

TechLife Australia - - CONTENTS - [ SHARMISHTA SARKAR ]

IT’S THE MID­DLE of the af­ter­noon — lunch is done, the day is glacially march­ing on and your eyes are be­gin­ning to droop. Is your go-to a Red Bull or another cup of cof­fee? Or would you rather try some­thing that’s nat­u­ral and, hence, bet­ter for you in ev­ery way? We’ve listed some of the best meth­ods to stave off the mid­day slump with­out you hav­ing to reach for that can or cup of sugar or caf­feine so you can stay alert for the rest of the day.

STEP OUT­SIDE AND MOVE AROUND

If you work at a desk, one of the best ways to perk up is to change your en­vi­ron­ment. Head out and take a brisk 10-minute walk. If you’re at home and need to stay near your com­puter or phone, just get up and move around the house. Em­brace your in­ner Doubt­fire and do a dance. The move­ment will pump oxy­gen to your mus­cles and brain, keep­ing you alert for longer than hav­ing some choco­late for a quick en­ergy boost that will burn up in no time at all.

TAKE A POWER NAP

There was a time when tak­ing a nap at work was frowned upon, but bosses are now be­gin­ning to un­der­stand the im­por­tance of sleep. So, if you can, find a quiet cor­ner (or put your head down on your desk) and take a 15–20 minute power nap. A grow­ing body of ev­i­dence (as men­tioned in is­sue 63, page 17) sug­gests power naps re­ju­ve­nate you, but make sure it’s about six or seven hours be­fore your ac­tual bed­time so that you don’t dis­rupt your nor­mal sleep pat­tern.

LOOK AWAY OR BRIGHTEN THE ROOM

If a nap or step­ping out­side isn’t an op­tion, just turn away from your com­puter screen for a few min­utes ev­ery hour. Look­ing out of a win­dow to let your eyes ad­just to some sun­light re­duces eye strain, which, in turn, keeps fa­tigue at bay. You can even switch on lights in the room — stud­ies have shown that bright lights can help stave off fa­tigue and sleepi­ness. Re­duc­ing the tem­per­a­ture of your work en­vi­ron­ment will also keep you awake. Turn down the air con­di­tion­ing temp or open a win­dow if (baby) it’s cold out­side.

STAY HY­DRATED AND EAT HEALTHY

De­hy­dra­tion causes fa­tigue, so be sure to drink plenty of flu­ids or eat foods rich in wa­ter, like fruits. Some peo­ple find snack­ing keeps them awake, and if this is you, be sure to have healthy bites. Sug­ary snacks will give you a quick boost, but en­ergy lev­els will drop quickly once the sugar has been pro­cessed by the body. Bet­ter to have things like nuts, yo­ghurt and veg­etable sticks in­stead, which take longer to process, re­leas­ing en­ergy to the body slowly over a longer pe­riod of time.

TAKE A BREATHER AND EX­ER­CISE REG­U­LARLY

Deep breath­ing will in­crease the amount of oxy­gen en­ter­ing the body, en­er­gis­ing your brain and your mus­cles. It will lower your heart rate, thus your blood pres­sure, re­lax­ing you and help­ing you get on with your work. Reg­u­lar ex­er­cise also im­proves your body’s cir­cu­la­tion, send­ing plenty of oxy­gen where its needed.

VOCALISE

It has been found that start­ing a con­ver­sa­tion can stim­u­late the brain, thus keep­ing you alert. So get chat­ting with some­one, like dis­cussing work with a col­league or any­thing else for that mat­ter — just make sure it’s some­thing that is in­ter­est­ing. Bor­ing chat­ter won’t help.

Is laugh­ter is the best medicine? Of course, es­pe­cially when you’re tired, of­fer­ing a break from your task. How­ever, if you’re work­ing from home, try play­ing some mu­sic and sing along. Or just sing, even if you can’t carry a tune. Even watch videos of cute an­i­mals or a funny video. Go on, have a laugh!

ADD VA­RI­ETY TO YOUR DAY

If you have mul­ti­ple projects go­ing on at the same time, try to switch be­tween them. Like hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion, the change up will stim­u­late the brain. It’s one of the eas­i­est ways to stay en­gaged and fo­cused through­out the day by elim­i­nat­ing monotony, which can be rather bor­ing. So, where were those cat videos again?

ARO­MATHER­APY TO THE RES­CUE

Al­though not sci­en­tif­i­cally proven, ex­per­i­ments in­volv­ing ol­fac­tory stim­u­la­tion have shown that peo­ple who smell rose­mary (or rose­mary oil) tend to stay alert and per­form well on cog­ni­tive tests com­pared to peo­ple who use laven­der oil or don’t smell any­thing at all. Cit­rus smells are also nat­u­ral stim­u­lants. Aro­mather­a­pists rec­om­mend pep­per­mint for a boost for en­ergy, eu­ca­lyp­tus to in­crease cir­cu­la­tion, cedar­wood to stim­u­late the brain and cin­na­mon to im­prove re­ac­tion time.

If, how­ever, you’ve tried all sorts of things to ward off sleepi­ness (or, on the con­trary, find you aren’t get­ting enough sleep full-stop), you should con­sider speak­ing with your GP.

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