What to Do When You’re Feeling Sleepy at Work?


Are you always falling asleep at work? Do you feel lethargic after lunch in the office? Don’t worry! This happens to all and you are not alone. Feeling sleepy at work is pretty normal, especially if you have upcoming deadlines. You may also feel sleepy if you’ve been working overtime. If you are looking for a solution to stop feeling sleepy at work, then you have come to the right place. Read on to find out how to avoid sleepiness in the office or while at work!

Lack of sleep is so common these days. According to the National Safety Council in the United States, almost 70 percent of employees are tired at work. Due to the growing workload and working hours, many people are losing sleep or experience disturbed sleep every night.

As per a study by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), 29% of respondents fell asleep or became very sleepy at work, while 37% had unintentionally fallen asleep or nodded off while driving.

Normally about 43% of Americans sleep during the day, which makes it harder for most to stay awake the entire 8-hour duration of their jobs.

This statistics is quite shocking. Sleepless nights are terrible. For many of us, some days the drowsiness is bearable. However, other days it just takes over your entire body and the next thing you know, you’ve taken a quick nap without anybody noticing.

Check out these good sleeping habits for adults that might aid your sleepiness at work.

Why Do We Need Sleep?

According to SleepFoundation, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

A healthy sleep cycle is critical for every one of us. Because unlike most of our assumptions, sleep is not when the mind and body shut down. It is when the brain is processing a lot of information, strengthening our body, etc. Without good quality sleep, our body cannot function at its best.

Reasons Why People Fall Asleep At Work?

Sleep deprivation is one of the primary reasons why you can feel tired and lethargic during the day. Most of us these days are sleep deprived. Feeling exhausted and rundown during work hours is an everyday affair.

Here are 7 reasons why people fall asleep at work!

1. You Are Stressed

Stress is almost a slow poison that can be deadly. For many of us, stress causes anxiety. As a result, this can lead to sleepless nights. Stress can be with regards to money, work, family, relationship or health.

Stress can make you physically and emotionally tired. 70% of adults report that they experience daily stress. Poor sleep due to stress affects your day to day activities. As a result, you may feel sleepy at work.

15 Healthy Ways To Deal With Stress

2. You Are A New Parent

For many, children can be a cause of sleepless nights. If you are a parent constantly worried about your child, you are bound to have some sleepless nights. Moreover, waking up early to get your child ready for school can affect your sleep schedule.

Similarly, staying up late to make sure they complete their homework and helping them in studies during exams can lead to poor sleep.

Additionally, if you are a new parent, infants and toddlers can surely give you a tough time at night. Babies wake up frequently with normal baby needs. A study says that new parents face up to six years of sleep deprivation.

Nearly 43 percent of parents of kids up to a year old get just one to three hours of undisturbed sleep on a regular basis. At such times, it is difficult to stop feeling sleepy at work. Around 30 percent of new dads have fallen asleep at work.

3. Your Work Doesn’t Motivate You

70% of the employees in the technology industry agreed to sleep at work. So if a person isn’t enthusiastic or motivated about the job, he/she can feel bored and fall asleep eventually. Boredom is also a sign of less productivity, thereby denoting that you are not at your best version in this role or workplace.

If you constantly experience a lack of motivation at your work, it’s time to rethink what you do for a living and try other options in parallel.

Meanwhile check this out: how to survive a job that you hate.

4. Health and Sleep Disorders

Constantly feeling sleepy at work can also be a red flag. It can be a sign of some underlying health issues. You may be suffering from some kind of sleeping disorder like Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Narcolepsy or Restless legs syndrome.

Additionally, pregnancy, aging, cold, flu, fever, asthma, Parkinson’s disease or diabetes can also obstruct your sleep cycle.

5. Poor Lifestyle & Lack of Physical Activity

Poor lifestyles can also cause you to feel sleepy at work. If you end up partying till late night or binge-watch an entire series rather than sleeping, you are bound to feel sleepy during the day.

If you want to stop feeling sleepy at work, try to incorporate changes in lifestyle. Being physically active can help you get a night of sound sleep and stay active the next day.

6. Unhealthy Eating Habits

Constantly filling your tummy with junk affects your health in many ways. Eating a large meal can make you drowsy. Similarly, iron deficiency can make you feel sluggish, weak and distracted. In contrast, foods rich in vitamin D are amazing to stop you from feeling sleepy at work.

Here’s How Your Favorite Junk Food is No Less Than Drugs

7. You Overwork and Hit The Sack Late

If you have a habit of working too hard and too much for a long time, your mind and body get exhausted. Staying late at work cultivates the routine making you sleep late at night, thereby making your mornings unpleasant.

Before you notice, you are caught up in this never-ending cycle of sleeping late and rush to work in the morning.

Overworking is pushing yourself beyond your strength and capacity. Not only does it cause distress but it also steals your sleep. As a result, you start feeling drowsy at work.

8. Other External Factors

There are many external factors that can disturb your night’s sleep or make you feel sleepy at work. These factors include:

  • Jet Lag
  • Night Shift based work
  • Phone Call In The Middle Of The Night
  • Noisy Neighbours
  • Light or Brightness
  • Uncomfortable Bed
  • Mosquitoes Or Bugs
  • Alarm
  • Vehicle Noise and Horns
  • Caffeine

What Can Happen If You Are Caught Sleeping At Work?

In Japan, it is very common to sleep in the workplace. Moreover, it is socially acceptable. It is a sign of dedication. However, that is not the case with many other countries around the world.

Sleeping at work can get you in a whole lot of trouble. Here are 4 things that can happen if you are caught sleeping at work:

1. Get Fired

Falling asleep at work can get you fired. Most employers feel that an employee who is caught sleeping on the job should be fired, and that is fine! However, if you are caught sleeping once in a blue moon, you may be let off with a warning.

2. Penalties

In some cases, the employer may not fire you. However, they may levy a penalty on you. You may be asked to work overtime to compensate for the time lost to sleep. In contrast, some employers may deduct a part of your salary or allowances or reduce your paid vacation days.

3. Reputation Damaged

Additionally, falling asleep at work can damage your reputation. In today’s corporate culture, employers are looking for people who are on their toes. But if you are caught sleeping, you may be tagged as lazy. Very few employers are considerate about finding out the actual reason.

Furthermore, when it comes to promotions or any exciting assignments or overseas projects, the employer may not consider you for it.


4. Gossip 

In addition to all this, you will also end up being the hot gossip of the office. With us humans, we are very excited to find faults in others rather than looking at our own selves. People won’t mind making assumptions as to why you fell asleep.

Times like this, you’re just dying to know about the ways you can stop feeling sleepy at work. While it’s not exactly a difficult thing to do, there are several things you need to follow.

Tips To Stop Feeling Sleepy At Work


1. Tap Naps During Breaks

If you’re wondering how to stay awake at work, then the answer is a power nap. Many successful people use this technique to be more productive during the day. Naps as brief as 10 to 30 minutes can increase alertness, decrease tiredness, and boost performance.

Surely people have normal breaks when they have normal office jobs. These could either be lunch breaks or bio breaks, depending on the rules your company has. Bottom line is, take naps whenever you’re allowed to do so.

If you have an hour allotted for a lunch break, finish your meal within 30 minutes and sleep throughout the rest of it. If you’re allowed to take breaks between workloads, try to shut your eyes for at least 15 minutes. Working when you’re really sleepy doesn’t really produce great outputs.

Taking a power nap is one of the most effective ways to put an end to sleepiness. But according to Dr. Allison Siebern of Stanford University, you can even just rest quietly if you’re unable to take naps.

2. Move Every Now and Then To Stop Feeling Sleepy At Work

You’re probably feeling sleepy at the office because you don’t move too much. Most of us are concentrate only on our tasks. We avoid doing anything else.

As a result, your brain is exhausted. Moreover, it is not active enough. This kind of activity encourages your body to feel really sleepy.

The biggest percentage of workers who feel sleepy at work are the ones who sit in front of computers.

As mentioned earlier, 70% of those who work in the technology industry feel sleepy or actually sleep at work.

The best way to combat sleepiness is to get up from your seat and stretch those tight muscles and body parts. It’s not just going to wake you up, it’s also going to relieve you of soreness that you might’ve been ignoring for the past hour.

You can also take short walks to help your body move and warm-up. Simple stretching and walking can do a lot for those who keep yawning at work.

Yoga Poses You Can Do At Your Work Desk

3. Drink Lots of Water Not Coffee

You might be surprised that’s it’s not coffee or tea we recommended, but water. Well, yes. Water is the best liquid you can drink whenever you’re falling asleep at work/class.

While caffeine’s main purpose is to keep you awake temporarily, it doesn’t necessarily help you have good sleeping patterns in the long run.

There are several negative effects of caffeine.

According to research, drinking coffee has affected the number of sleep drinkers got at night. So, you might as well stick with the reliable and natural liquid to keep you awake. Drinking lots of water can also help you stay hydrated and focused on your tasks.

Not only that, but it also forces you to move and go to the CR to pee. It’s hitting two birds with one stone, right?

10 Signs You’re Not Drinking Enough Water

4. Eat Healthy Food

It’s not just water that helps you stay awake, it’s also the food you eat. Eating vegetables is not just good for your body but they also improve your sleep quality at night.

Research done in the UK shows that eating fruits and vegetables have a positive effect on the improvement of sleep quality.

With improved sleep quality, the chances of feeling tired all the time also decrease. So make sure you get a good amount of fruits and vegetables during your meals and snack on healthy vegetables.

You can even snack on crunchy greens or nuts that keep you chewing. Chewing makes it a lot easier to stay awake because your mind is busy elsewhere.

5. Give Your Eyes a Break To Stop Feeling Sleepy At Work

Staring at computer screens for a long time can definitely strain your eyes. Having tired eyes makes it a lot harder to stay awake when you’re working. You just tend to zone our more often because your eyes just can’t take it anymore.

According to research, you might even have difficulty focusing on your screen if you spend way too much time staring at it.

  • To give your eyes a break, just simply look away from the computer every 30 minutes or so.
  • Take about a minute or two to just stare at something else to help your eyes recover.
  • During the period, you can relax or massage around your eyes to help it recover from strain.
  • You can also use cold patches for a soothing experience.

6. Switch Up Task

Doing the same task over and over again could just be the culprit. Let’s face it, it gets really boring and you just seem to doze off. Repetitive activities can create habits that just forces your body to work without really needing the use of your mind.

This, in turn, can lead to sleepiness. This happens as your body is already used to the activity. Switch up your tasks every now and then to break the habit. Switching up the tasks also forces your brain to think which keeps it awake.

You’re also doing yourself a favor by avoiding the boring routines and going for something that’s not part of the routine.


7. Sit Up Straight To Stop Feeling Sleepy At Work

Avoid slouching at all costs. When you’re slouching you have the tendency to feel laid back and relaxed which are perfect for sleeping but really bad for work. Once you notice that your eyes are starting to drop, immediately sit up straight.

A study done by Health Journal showed that good posture has a positive effect on your body’s energy levels.

With proper posture, you tend to feel more energized and empowered. So as much as possible, make an effort to sit up straight whenever you can. A good body posture can go a long way.


All these tips on how to stay awake at work boil down to having enough sleep before you go to work, eating the right food, and taking a break every now and then. These are the fundamental things to stop yourself from frequently yawning and sleeping on the job.


Good employers do their best by providing nap rooms for their employees to use any time of the day. However, as an employer, if you catch any of your employees sleeping very often, please try to find out the reason first. Don’t end up reprimanding the employee directly.

As an employee, you should also be responsible enough to keep yourself awake. Though it may be hard to follow at the start, you’ll find yourself easily settling in with your new lifestyle.

Key Takeaways On How To Stop Feeling Sleepy At Work

  • Sleeping at work can get you in a whole lot of trouble like a bad reputation, getting fired, working longer, reduced pay or vacation days.
  • Sleep deprivation is one of the primary reasons why you feel tired and lethargic during the day. Statistics say that 43% of adults are sleep deprived. New parents face up to six years of sleep deprivation.
  • Staying motivated at work is necessary to avoid sleepiness in the office. If you’re constantly feeling the lack of motivation towards your work, then it is time to rethink other options that may be of interest.
  • Try to maintain a healthy sleep routine by getting at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
  • Changes in lifestyle are necessary if you want to stop feeling sleepy at work.
  • Building healthier habits in the workplace can aid you from falling asleep at work.
  • Keep your body moving. The best way to combat sleepiness is to get up from your seat and stretch those tight muscles and body parts.
  • Sit up straight. A good body posture can also go a long way and protect you from falling asleep at work.
  • Power naps as brief as 10 to 30 minutes can increase alertness, decrease tiredness, and boost productivity.
  • Drinking enough water and eating healthy food can also help stay focused on your tasks.
  • Constantly feeling sleepy at work can also be a red flag and can be a sign of some underlying health issues. Try consulting with your doctor to find out if there is something bothering you for some time.

How often do you feel sleepy at work? What steps do you follow to stop feeling sleepy at your office? Share your comments below. You can also stay tuned to us by subscribing to our newsletter and following our social media channels.

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