Ever heard your classmate yawn and shake their head as they muttered, “I can't keep my eyes open.” Or maybe you still had a few assignments left before you clocked off from work, and you just couldn't keep your mind off the thought of a good, long nap? Without question getting the right amount of sleep is one of the most important aspects of staying active and healthy. Too much sleep, however, can be catastrophic for your health as well as your professional/academic life.
How Long Can You Go Without Sleep?
Over the years there have been interesting accounts of people who have gone without sleep for weeks – sometimes months. But more often than not, these people have been plagued with insomnia: a sleep disorder in which you can't sleep.
No, what we want to know is how long can a healthy human being purposefully stay awake and functional? The world record was set during an experiment by a student for a science fair who went eleven days without sleeping. Other people have also been recorded as having gone eight to ten days without sleep.
Getting a good night's sleep is crucial but should you need to stay awake, here are some of how you can stay awake and alert.
How to Stay Awake In Class?
Sit Up Straight
One of the most important things to remember while taking a class is to: sit up straight! As funny as it may sound, all those times the teacher corrected our posture with a sharp reprimand they were probably onto something. Because there is a direct correlation between our sitting position and our mental alertness.
The alignment of our spine communicates our needs to the brain. So if at any point you slouch, it sends the same signal to the brain as when you lie down to sleep. And these signals, in turn, tell your brain to release the chemicals necessary to help you relax. This is much of the reason why we find it so much easier falling asleep lying down as opposed to sitting up.
So, first things first: remember to sit up straight thereby giving your brain the signal to stay alert and conscious.
Other ways of staying awake during class – besides improving your posture – include: eating healthy. You should keep small snacks such as apples, oranges or bananas to munch on during class. A healthy snack doesn't just optimize your ability to concentrate, but it gives your body something to do. And helps you stay awake in the bargain.
Take a Shower
You could also try taking a shower before you head to your class. A shower first thing in the morning will wake you up and keep your fresh for the next six to eight hours.
One of the quickest ways to fall asleep in class is to get distracted. Before you know it, you have no idea what the teacher is saying and you have lost all interest. Making that much easier for you to want to close your eyes and take a little rest…
Try to think of questions that you can ask the teacher. The need to process the information being given, sorting it out and formulating your questions into words will stimulate your brain and charge your body. A sure way to keep awake.
Brush Your Teeth
Brushing your teeth also has a positive effect on your productivity and wakefulness. Your teeth are connected to your brain through some of the most sensitive, and sophisticated nerve systems. The act of running a brush over your teeth removes germs as well as send signals along these nerves to wake you up.
Brush Your Hairs
You have a higher chance of staying awake throughout your classes if you remembered to brush your hair before you left home. Just as with the toothbrush, running a brush or a comb through your hair improves the circulation in your scalp. This improved circulation acts like a charge of energy that helps you stay active.
How to Stay Awake In Office?
Imagine sitting at your desk at work trying to finish that report due in a few hours. Suddenly you feel your eyes droop as your concentration slips and it could not have come at a worse time. Tedium is one of the reasons your body would rather sleep than work.
Whether your job involves working on a computer, or staring at the sheet after of numbers, or maybe even lifting objects and placing them on a shelf: you will feel yourself fall asleep if you don't do anything about it.
Take eyes off the screen
Given the right stimulus, our brain can stay awake non-stop for hours! But if you find yourself staring at a screen for countless hours, your eyes will tired and your brain will start to initiate a shutdown.
If this happens remember to give your eyes a rest! You should turn your face away from the screen and close your eyes for about thirty seconds before you go back to work.
Get up from your desk
Your body needs variation almost as much as your brain does. If you sit still too long in a particular place, your body starts to try and make itself more comfortable. And in the process you sometimes find yourself craving a nap. When this happens, take a mandatory resting period for yourself.
By this, we don't mean that you give in to the urge to fall asleep. On the contrary, listen to your body. Try to become more active.
Get up and take a short walk around your workplace. This will help regulate the circulation in your limbs and refresh your body for the next couple of hours' worth of work. You should also look into the kind of chair you have at work.
A cushy chair is good for naps, but try to get one that has a good support for your back. It will help keep you alert beside the added health benefits.
If you don't have enough space to walk around, utilize the space you have. You can refresh yourself by just taking a couple of minutes to stand up and do a couple of stretches. This will wake up your body and boost your mood immediately.
Do not forget to take your lunch breaks. But be careful to pack a small, healthy snack like a fruit or vegetable salad. The kind of lunch that will restore the energy you spent working the whole morning. Because a heavy lunch is usually responsible for causing drowsiness, and a need to sleep it off.
Most importantly, stay hydrated. The best way to stay awake is to drink the necessary amount of water. While working, remember to keep taking sips of water to remain rejuvenated and active.
You may want to read more about Creative Ways to Fall Asleep Faster.
How to Stay Awake While Driving
Road safety awareness involves knowing your limits when it comes to staying alert behind the wheel. As the driver, you are responsible not only for the safety of the people sitting with you in the car, but for the other drivers, and pedestrians out on the road. But keeping control over a powerful machine like a car as well as maintaining vigilance on the road ahead can get very taxing on the mind and body.
Take short Pre-Nap
Something people have often found helpful is to store up some energy for a long drive with a pre-nap. Take a short pre-nap before you mean to drive out to ensure that you can make a long drive with plenty of energy and presence of mind.
If you're thinking of taking a road trip, or if you have to make a long commute to work then be sure to bring someone along. Ideally, the two of you could take turns driving so that each of you has a chance to rest.
Another way to stay awake is to make conversation with the person traveling with you. By maintaining a constant flow of conversation, your mind has something interesting to participate in even if you're body doesn't have a choice but to sit still for long periods of time.
Take a break and rest
Allow yourself a resting period in which to leave the car, and take a brief walk. Because all that inaction is not good for your legs. Whenever you need to make a long drive remember to pack refreshments and water. You must keep taking sustenance to stay awake, and refresh yourself.
One last trick you can try is a favorite for people that constantly need to be on the road: you can sing along to the songs on the radio. It is a fun activity that keeps you alert and happy. Giving you a boost of chemicals necessary to keep you awake for miles. It sounds simple but has been found very effective by some people.
How to Stay Awake For 24 Hours
Although we don't suggest it, we still understand there are plenty of reasons why someone would want to stay awake for long hours or even a whole 24 hours! And if you find it necessary to stay awake the next twenty-four hours, here is what you can try:
Maintain your body temperature
Much like an advanced computer that needs to let off some steam; our bodies use temperature control to power down. Our body lowers the temperature in order for us to fall asleep. If you want to stay awake make sure to set the right temperature for your room. You can't get too comfortable or else you'll start to get sleepy. And you can't make it unbearable or you might not be able to get any work in like you had hoped.
Use your Cell phone
If you have a tendency to check your phone just before you go to sleep – or even while you're in bed – you will notice it takes time for your mind to calm down and relax. Because the bright light from your phone sends signals to your brain, telling you to keep awake. And even if you put your phone away, the message persists. It usually takes at least half an hour for your brain to finally prepare for sleep. If you want to stay awake: keep your environment well lit.
Take regular meals
Your body needs both sufficient sleep and plentiful food to keep moving through the day. If you're depriving your body of one, you need to make it up with the other. Try to keep lots of healthy food on hand. And at any time if you start to feel fatigued then quickly replenish your energy with a quick bite to eat.
The best way to stay awake is to engage your mind actively. If possible, you should take a break and have a chat with your friends. A lively conversation with your friends will lift your mood, and keep you awake definitely.
Use an Alarm
When in doubt you can always try setting an alarm. An alarm is usually used to wake up, but you can set one on your phone to ring every hour for the next twenty-four hours. You can arrange it as a kind of challenge for yourself. To shut off the alarm before it has a chance to ring a second time.
Set your goals for 24 hours
Planning ahead, and giving your mind something to work towards is a great way to pump enough adrenaline in your blood to keep you awake till the job is done. By establishing a set of goals for yourself that you need to accomplish in the next twenty-four hours, you are mentally preparing your brain and body to stay active.
Create a diverse schedule
Try to create a diverse schedule to keep alert. The moment you find yourself getting tired it is time to move onto another task. Whether that means another chore on your list, or taking a moment to hydrate. The choice of activity doesn't matter as long you keep moving and allow your body some relief. Repeating an action for a long period is always the fastest way for you to fall asleep.
Hopefully, at the end of twenty-four hours, you will have accomplished all that you need to get done. For the sake of your health remember to make up for the lost sleep afterward.
Natural Ways to Stay Awake
Earlier we gave you a list of how you can persevere and keep functioning without your required sleep. Below is a list of how your body can stay active and healthy without getting tired:
- Exercise is the most natural way to stay awake. Exercise helps regulate the necessary chemicals that regulate the healthy working of your body and keep you alert.
- Breathing exercises are also a great way to release stress and boost your energy.
- Maintaining a balanced diet is essential to keep up your energy and staying awake.
- The right herbal tea can wake you up and keep you that way. But resist making it a habit, because you risk losing the advantages of herbal tea if you take it in abundance.
- Getting the right amount of sleep at the right time is certain to keep you awake and fresh the rest of the day.
You may be interested in Tips for Fixing Trouble Sleeping.
We need sleep to function. But too much of it is harmful on more than one level, and not just for our health. We have given you tips to stay awake and efficient for the most important aspects of your life. And even tips to make it through a whole twenty-four hours. But the most important piece of advice we can give you is to make sure that once you've finished your work go to your bed and sleep to prepare yourself for the next day challenge.