How to Avoid It If You Fall Asleep While Working

Did you just doze off sitting at your desk? You might be tired because you were up caring for your newborn or putting in those last details on a work project you thought would never end. Or you found yourself out late and you're feeling it now, practically falling asleep in front of your boss. Falling asleep at work can not only put your job in jeopardy but it could be telling you there is a larger issue at hand.

Falling Asleep at Work, Can It Be Serious?

1. Little Sleeping Time

If you find that life is hectic and you are taking on too much, you may be sacrificing sleep to work on your to-do list. It is much better to be rested and do fewer projects and not spread yourself too thin, becoming sleep deprived.

2. Environmental Factors

Another way you may be setting yourself up for a nap is to fill your belly and get warm and comfy somewhere relaxing. For such condition, you can just do a little movement or get the temperature change to avoid falling asleep at work.

3. Narcolepsy

Some are also concerned about the possibility of getting narcolepsy, whose common symptoms include:

  • Micro sleep: You fall asleep for a very short amount of time but continue to function as if you were still awake and wake with no memory of what happened.
  • Hallucinations: Whether awake or sleeping, people with narcolepsy sometimes experience vivid sensations, visual or auditory and it can be frightening.
  • Nighttime wakefulness: An elevated heart rate, intense alertness, and hot flashes may accompany periods of wakefulness during the night for people suffering from narcolepsy
  • Sleep paralysis: At the beginning or end of sleep, it is possible to be unable to talk or even move.
  • Rapid entry into REM sleep: Most people take about 90 minutes of sleep before they reach REM sleep. But people with narcolepsy have unique sleep cycles and may enter the REM part of sleep immediately, causing them to have muscle paralysis and vivid dreams at the beginning of their sleep cycle instead of part way in, whether they are sleeping at night or in the daytime.
  • Cataplexy (loss of muscle control): Strong emotions such as crying or laughing can trigger a sudden loss of muscle control in someone dealing with narcolepsy.


This is a breathing disorder that is caused by the brain's inability to regulate its sleep cycles. An employer will have to make accommodations for the worker's condition if they suffer from these or other conditions such as insomnia or sleepwalking, as they are considered by state and federal laws to be disabilities and covered by ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

How to Avoid Falling Asleep at Work

1. Instant Boost

  • An easy to carry instant booster are essential oils, in scents like grapefruit or lemon, to give you a lift anywhere.
  • Or popping a candy like a peppermint or menthol can give you a fresh-air simulation for a bit of a perk.
  • Another approach for instant boost is some breathing exercises. You can just relax the muscle on stomach then inspire slowly as much as you can. Pause for seconds and then expire. Feel a little strange? Just try and see.

2. Time Your Coffee Breaks Properly

Most people think that as long as you cut off your caffeine intake around dinner time, you will be unaffected with bedtime. However, mid-afternoon bit of caffeine could hang out and affect your ability to function the next day. Coffee and chia give you an energy boost, which though helpful in the morning, takes three to six hours for your body to rid of.

3. Cut Down on Fast Food

Sugary, heavy, refined and other processed foods give you a quick boost of energy but due to the quick rate of digestibility, the sugar spike will come crashing down on top of you. Instead, try a lean meat or eggs for protein and energy and spinach or other leafy greens to decreases fatigue.

4. Befriend the Water Cooler

After a night of not drinking, starting your day with an 8-ounce glass of water and sipping throughout the day will help keep you from being dehydrated. Dehydration can cause poor mood, difficulty concentrating and fatigue. If you are not a fan of water alone, try adding some citrus fruit like lemon or grapefruit to help keep you from falling asleep at work. It is rejuvenating and adds flavor while detoxifying the system.

5. Chew on Gum

To maintain energy and focus, try chewing a piece of your favorite gum right before work. But don't chew it for more than 15-20 minutes or it could have the opposite effect. Researchers have found that people who have chewed gum before but not during tasks do better than those who skip the gum in memory and recall.

6. Remove All Personal Grudges

Instead of hiding true emotions, which can take more energy than you think, start releasing them. Worry over a conflict, anger for a co-worker or other emotional baggage can drag you down. You can counter this by making a list with assigning one a deadline to resolve the issue.

7. Morning Workout Helps

If you really want to get your blood pumping, try a morning workout and this will keep you from falling asleep at work. This will not tire you out but, in fact, will give you energy all day long. Be sure that you keep your metabolism running and remember that hard physical activity not only increases your natural energy but helps to provide oxygen and nutrients to muscle tissue as well as improving your blood flow. Even skipping the elevator and taking the stairs and walking around will help.

8. Tune into Your Favorite Tunes

You may want to check with your company's policy before trying this next one, but studies have shown that listening to music while you work is very beneficial. According to studies, you will improve your efficiency, vigilance, and quality in your work output by plugging in some headphones and jamming while you work.

9. Go Green

Just try to surround yourself with green plants, which can help you stay awake. Researches show that the larger the leaf area, the greater the surface area for absorbing pollutants and chemicals. This is why using varieties like Kentia palm, fine-leafed figs or peace lilies are great choices for your office tables.

10. Energize Your Workplace

Simply put, the office lighting that you spend all your time in could be leeching away your energy. Try adding some energy with a small bowl of water and your choice of essential oil like lemongrass or pine to your desk or a small ionizer to boost the energy in your space. You can even find full spectrum lights to boost energy levels.

11. Stand Up

Some experts also suggest that standing up helps to deal with falling asleep at work. If you feel sleepy at work, on trains or the bus or in a lecture hall, get up and go to the back where you can stand.

12. Go to Bed Earlier

Since the hormones that regulate sleep are the highest between the hours of midnight and 7 am, it's best to go to bed and get up super early than to try to stay up

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