You Can Stay Alert Without Drinking Caffeine - Try These Science-Based Tricks The Next Time You Feel Tired

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Even after a good night's sleep, all it takes is one rough commute or frustrating meeting to majorly wear us down.

That's probably why countless people reach for an afternoon cup of coffee, tea, or — god forbid — tiny bottles filled with foul-tasting herbs and a megadose of caffeine.

But there are plenty of science-backed ways to stay alert using just your mind, body, and surroundings. And some of them are actually kind of fun.

Read on for 10 tips and tricks that can help you make it through the day without that habit-forming caffeine hit.

Julia Calderone wrote the original version of this post.

Look away from the screen.

Looking at one target for a long time, such as a computer screen, can hurt your eyes and make you struggle to keep them open.

As many as 95% of Americans are at risk for so-called computer vision syndrome — especially those who work in an office. All that screen time causes eye irritation and dryness, eye strain, blurred or double vision, headache, and shoulder and neck pain. 

You can minimize the risks of damaging your eyes by reducing glare on your screen, upgrading your screen to an LCD, blinking frequently, correcting your posture, and gazing at a distant object every 20 minutes. 

Thanks for reading — now look away!

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Eat a healthy snack.

Low blood sugar can make you feel foggy and mentally lethargic. Large meals can have the same effect, because digestion takes energy (ahem, food coma). If you try to mask this effect with sugary foods and caffeine, you'll get a momentary high before a rapid crash.

Eating small snacks packed with certain nutrients and good fats is a great way to get the benefits of a natural buzz. One study found that a high-fiber breakfast provided the greatest boost in alertness, and high-quality proteins — like those found in eggs — are also important. But there are a wide variety of foods that can help keep your energy levels high throughout the day.

Some of our favorite suggestions are avocado toast, peanut butter and celery, or carrots and hummus. Foods like spinach, beans, and lentils are great sources of iron, and iron deficiency is often a source of fatigue. Pairing those iron-rich foods with snacks high in vitamin C will help boost iron absorption.

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