How To Avoid Drowsiness At Work

I’ve been writing a lot about Millennials in the workplace lately so have felt a pull to write again about Time Management. A training program I recently facilitated provided me the perfect topic. I was asked ‘How To Avoid Drowsiness At Work’.  A great question!

Free image courtesy of

Free image courtesy of

We’ve all felt drowsy – heavy eyes take over.  If you’re lucky nobody noticed.  If you’re unlucky you were with your senior management team, boss… or client.

Working efficiently and prioritizing your important work over your busy work are some of the best Time Management best practices I teach… but you have to be awake.  Your best intentions can be undermined by something stubbornly insistent as drowsiness… or worse… actually falling asleep at your desk.

So, let’s look at how to avoid drowsiness at work to improve your time management and productivity.

How To Avoid Drowsiness At Work:

  1. There are many foods and beverages that spike your energy and unfortunately leave you feeling sleepy shortly after. You likely know which ones impact you (pasta is my enemy). We all react differently however the most common are sugar (including breads, muffins, donuts, pasta etc.), alcohol (gone are the Mad Men days), and caffeine (coffee and most teas). Green tea is great alternative because it doesn’t cause drowsiness but does have a natural calming effect and supports relaxation during times of stress.
  2. How much water have you drank? Coffee, tea and sugary drinks don’t count. Drowsiness and a short attention span can be a sign of dehydration. A study from Tufts University found that even mild dehydration will impair your cognition and energy. Generally men should drink up to 13 cups, women up to 9 cups.
  3. Here’s one I bet you haven’t heard. Get a good night sleep. Whether it’s your old mattress or all the negativity of the nightly news that’s keeping you up, try to work this out. 8 solid hours should be your target… so work your schedule backwards. For me that means hitting the sack around 9:30PM.
    You might think “there’s no way I’d be able to fall asleep at 9:30″. I bet if you have a regular – daily schedule of getting up before 5:30AM and hitting the gym you’ll have little problem getting to sleep.
  4. Have a healthy, low-fat breakfast every morning. Focus on fruit, low-fat dairy products (Greek yogurt is terrific), hard-boiled eggs and unprocessed grains.
  5. A quick exercise program can boost your energy levels rather than deplete them. When you work out your body responds by building strength and endurance. This energy is then used all through the day… but note, with exercise, getting enough sleep becomes even more important.
  6. What You Can Eat And Drink To Avoid Drowsiness At Work:

    Free image courtesy of

    Free image courtesy of

    • Salads and dark vegetables like broccoli, bell peppers and beets. Kale is a versatile veggie that is gaining popularity and can be used to make salads, stews and even chips.
    • Hemp seeds contain omega-3 fats and provide long sustaining energy. They’re great on salads, in smoothies and in cereal.Quinoa is a great choice for anyone who is looking to build or maintain muscle. It’s a grain that is contains essential amino acids has a high-protein content.
    • Coconut water and coconut oil instead of high-fructose energy drinks. 
Coconut water will naturally replenish your body with much-needed electrolytes and a quick source of energy.
    • Honey is also a wonderful energy booster because it’s a natural source of sugar and calories in comparison to high-fructose energy drinks that cost so much more. Honey is easy to absorb, is loaded with enzymes as well as antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Put just in a bit of water with lemon or your tea, and your mom will tell you it’s good to sooth sore throats.
    • Ginseng or licorice (not the candy store kind), can increase energy and vitality — especially if the cause of your drowsiness is stress.  For these, ask your Naturopath and pick them up at your local health food store.


In the end, I’m all in for getting expert information – so visiting your Naturopath is a great idea. When I began seeing my Naturopath Dr. Amanda Guthrie she helped me fine-tune my diet to benefit my health and active lifestyle. They can look at your personal situation and help you tailor a nutrition / exercise routine that is best for you.

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About Bruce Mayhew
Bruce Mayhew is a Leadership Coach, Keynote Speaker and Corporate Trainer who builds strong client and co-worker relationships that give clients a competitive advantage. Our training and development programs include: ■Generational Differences ■Effective Business Email Writing ■Email Etiquette ■Phone Etiquette ■Behaviour Event Interviewing (BEI) ■Mindfulness ■Using Linkedin to Build Client Relationships ■Objective Setting Made Easy

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