Five Tips for Staying Alert When Working Late

Five Tips for Staying Alert When Working Late

Maybe you’re racing to finish a quarterly report before your deadline tomorrow morning. Perhaps you’re working on a challenging project that requires you to work longer hours than normal. Or maybe you’ve just started a new job and you’re trying to absorb as much information as possible in order to get up to speed. 

Whatever the reason, the truth is that although most of us don’t enjoy working late, every now and then, we have to do it. But how can you stay alert and productive after already working a full eight hours? The following five tips can help: 

  1. Take a power nap. Counterintuitive as it may seem, taking a short nap — no longer than 20 minutes — can make you more alert and productive, as explains in the article “What Is a Power Nap?” Note that a 30- to 60 minute nap is likely to make you feel more tired, so avoid that at all costs. Of course, if you need to be creative during your overtime, them a 90-minute nap allows for a complete sleep cycle, which builds creativity. 

  2. Exercise. According to Robert. E. Thayer, cited in Colette Bouchez’s WebMDarticle “Exercise for Energy: Workouts That Work,” you can get a boost of long-lasting energy by performing 10 to 15 minutes of aerobic exercise like walking before you settle in for the evening shift.

  3. Meditate for 20 minutes. In Phoebe Waller’s Bustlearticle titled “7 Natural Ways to Feel More Awake Instantly,” meditation teacher Light Watkins explains how 20 minutes of meditating will trigger endorphins that will instantly give you energy and make you feel better. 

  4. Drink plenty of water. Without water, you can become dehydrated, which can have a negative impact on your ability to focus. In general, you should aim for eight eight-ounce glasses per day — but if you’re staying up late, you might need to drink one or two glasses more. 

  5. Use essential oils. Certain scents such as citrus, peppermint, rosemary and eucalyptus can make you more alert, according to the article “Scents to Help You Wake Up and Feel Energized.” Sprinkle a few drops on a handkerchief or — if you’re working from home — use a diffuser to fill the room with the aroma.   

While these tips are helpful if you occasionally work overtime, it’s important to understand that consistently working too many hours can be bad for your health. According the Healthline article by Colleen de Bellefonds titled “7 Red Flags You’re Working Too Much,” the stress associated with working too much can even increase your risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, cancer and type 2 diabetes. So if you feeling you’re working too much, you might need to have a talk with your supervisor about reducing your workload. If that’s not an option, it might be time to re-evaluate your career options.