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5 Tips to Stay Awake Without Coffee


Some mornings you just wake up and say, “I really, sincerely, imperatively, just don’t want to today.” You know the mornings I’m talking about. Those mornings when it feels the alarm (or screaming child) blew up a few hours too early. On those mornings you just can’t. Can’t remember. Can’t think. Can’t work. Can’t adult. Can’t remember.

Those mornings are terrible.

But there is hope, and it doesn’t mean spending half your paycheck at Starbucks or finding a way to insert caffeine into your body through an IV. Here are a few tips:

Stand up

There have been many reports about the health problems caused by sitting for long periods of time. And since the development of the Internet and Netflix, sitting has become a marathon sport.

The simple act of standing can increase blood flow, support muscle growth, and, most importantly, can give you increased energy, mental focus, and productivity.

Most jobs will not spring for the $400 item that can make your workstation a sit/stand desk, but you can do it with a few boxes or books (now you have a use for those old, outdated college textbooks you forgot to sell on Amazon).

Hot tea

I have been a tea nerd since I spent a few days in London on my way back from a mission trip (it also kicked off a tiny obsession with all things British, including a show about a man in a traveling police box).

Hot tea has a long history and making a cup for yourself is akin to writing your own chapter in its centuries-long saga. It has been celebrated because of it many health benefits, and because it can help produce a sense of community and camaraderie.

If you have not reached your caffeine limit of the tea, let me recommend a good Earl Grey. But if you want to cut back on caffeine or have had enough for one day but still need a small pick-me-up, get a cup of peppermint tea. The smell will bring you out of a funk and perk up your mental awareness enough to get through the day.

If you just cannot bring yourself to try hot tea, there is another way to get the alertness peppermint offers without burning your tongue.

Essential oils

When I first heard about essential oils it went like this:

My wife, ”Sweet, loving husband…you know those candles you buy as a romantic gesture? They stink and give me a headache. But I have read online that you can use essential oils to make your house smell good and you can choose how strong you want them to smell. So let’s get essential oils instead of candles.”

My response was simple, “No. We aren’t hippies, and essential oils seem like a hippie thing.”

My wife, “We are getting essential oils.”

My response, “I’ll order them from Amazon this afternoon.”

What I learned about essential oils is that some of them do help with alertness. Maybe I have a little inner-hippie inside me, but I now have a small diffuser in my office that I turn on with peppermint oil, especially on those mornings after a really difficult night with a sick kid or those afternoons after a heavy lunch.

If you aren’t into oils, there are other methods.

Take a break

Not every job will allow this, but the simple act of getting out of your office can have tremendous benefits. Because I am a writer, I spend most of my day in a 9’ x 9’ room staring at a computer monitor. Although I am introverted, I still need interaction with people. Taking a break to walk into a coworker’s office not only makes me walk around a bit, but it gives my brain a break. Stepping away from an article or blog post for a few minutes allows me to process what I am trying to write. When I come back to my desk I have a new angle or idea to tackle.

Take a nap

This one may take some convincing for your boss. But the health benefits of habitual napping have been reported over and over.

While you may not be able to take a nap during work hours, you can try to fit one in during your lunch break. The typical nap doesn’t need to be long; a 20-minute nap can be extremely helpful and give you a better jolt of energy than several cups of coffee.

Why does this matter?

No matter how much we love our jobs, it is a fact that some days are harder than others. But when Scripture says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23), it does not include the clause, “unless you had a really rough night.”

When we work, whether our current job is something we have dreamed about since childhood or just something we do make ends meet, we are called to do it with all the energy, mental capacity, and passion God has given us.

Ultimately, our work is not to make ourselves look good, to make our boss happy, or to build our own personal kingdoms. We are working as ambassadors of Christ. Our work ethic reflects not just our character, but His. With that truth in mind, we can “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

Just to be completely honest, I operate better after a cup of tea and a nap.



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