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Reasons for Falling Asleep at Work and Ways to Avoid It

Chandramita Bora Mar 22, 2020
If a person is caught sleeping at work, his/her superiors are most likely to raise questions regarding his/her efficiency and productivity. Fret not, this problem can be handled with some simple measures.
Nothing can be more embarrassing for an employee than falling asleep at work. This can even affect your career adversely. But still, staying awake at the workplace at some specific time of the day, especially in the afternoon or after having a heavy lunch seems tough for many of us.
If it happens once in a while, then it is not such a major cause of concern. But some people often fail to resist the urge, and fall asleep for a considerable period at their workplace.

Contributory Factors

The exact reasons behind dozing off during the working hours can be different for every individual.
✦ Most of us have a tendency to fall asleep after lunch. A person is more likely to fall asleep if he/she has had a very heavy meal.
✦ During the weekdays, many people fail to sleep sufficiently, owing to a hectic daily schedule. But we need at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily to stay alert and feel fresh throughout the day. So naturally, when we do not get sufficient amount of sleep in the night, our body gets tired. Due to inadequate sleep, we might fall asleep during working hours.
✦ If you are taking medications like antihistamines, you can experience excessive drowsiness during daytime. However, if you experiene this for a long time, even after having  proper sleep, then you should visit a physician.
✦ If you are taking certain medications like antihistamines, you can experience excessive drowsiness during daytime. However, if you are experiencing this urge for a long time, even after having enough sleep at night, then it is the time to visit your physician, as you may have some other problems like sleep apnea and sleep disorders.
✦ Another common cause for this problem can be the 'sleep-wake cycle'. Generally, there are two periods in a day when we feel sleepy; one is the late night hours, from midnight to 6 to 7 am, and another period is mid-afternoon, usually from 1 to 4 pm. So it is completely natural to feel sleepy about 7 to 8 hours from the time we get up from the bed.
✦ The important point is that afternoon time is also the time when we eat our lunch. So the cumulative result is an urge to sleep, which is so strong that many of us fail to resist it.

Ways to Keep from Falling Sleep

✦ The simplest way to stay completely alert and feel energetic throughout the day to is get 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night. But if you still have the tendency to fall asleep in day, then try the following tips.
✦ If you are looking for the easiest way to stay alert during the afternoons, then drink a glass of cold water. It would simply refresh your body and mind by helping your body to get rid of toxins.
✦ Splash water on your face and eyes. Your eyes get strained by constantly looking at the computer screen. Splashing water on eyes helps to refresh them.
✦ Avoid having a heavy lunch. Instead, have a light lunch and start your day with a healthy breakfast, which can help to keep you mentally and physically alert for the whole day.
✦ Strong and fresh smells can make you alert or feel less drowsy. Essential oils can have an energizing effect on our system. Simply pour a few drops of an essential oil in a bowl of water and set it on your table.
✦ Inhaling the aroma will make you feel fresh in no time. Or just take a whiff of the oil from the bottle for the same effect. You can also drizzle some on your fingertips and rub them and smell your hands. Eucalyptus, peppermint, thyme, lemongrass, and rosemary are good examples of essential oils.
✦ Chewing gum or candy will also help you stay awake.

✦ Place a potted plant on your table. Green color is said to have a stimulating effect on the senses.

✦ Spruce up your workplace, add a small water fountain, and hang colorful pictures. Make sure that your work area is well-lit. A drab workplace will only make you feel less enthusiastic and more sleepy.
✦ Take a walk around and get some fresh air. Many times, sitting for a prolonged period can be the reason for feeling sleepy, especially during the afternoon or evening. Or just do some simple stretching exercises or situps that will improve blood circulation and rejuvenate you.
✦ A quick massage can ease those tensed muscles and help overcome the lethargy. Massage the back of your neck, the temples, and the forehead. It will help to reduce fatigue.
✦ Caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea can keep you awake, but excess intake of these is not a healthy option, and besides, their effect lasts only for a couple of hours. So, do not over indulge yourself in coffee and tea while trying not to fall asleep at work.
✦ Listen to music for a short while if it is allowed at your workplace, then it is the best bet for refreshing your mind. Be sure to take your headphones in such a case, and not disturb anyone else while working.
So these are some simple ways which you can try to keep yourself from dozing off at work. But if these measures fail, and this habit is affecting your work efficiency, then it is better to have a talk with your physician to find out the factors responsible for this condition, and the corrective measures to be followed.