9 tips to help you stay awake and be more alert at your job

Tired construction worker Whether you work construction, retail, or in an office setting, feeling drowsy at your job increases the risk of making a mistake. Those mistakes can lead to accidents, putting you, your employer, and your coworkers at risk.

The National Sleep Foundation indicates that sleepy workers are 70 percent more likely to be involved in accidents than workers who are more alert. The organization also states that employees who regularly have trouble sleeping are far more likely to be involved in industrial accidents.

Those statistics probably come as no surprise. You know you’re not performing at your peak when you’re tired. Use these tips to get better, more regular sleep to ensure you are effective, and, more importantly, safe on the job.

How to feel more awake at work

Get enough sleep 

If you’re regularly watching one more episode of your favorite Netflix show, you might be missing out on an hour or two of sleep that you truly need. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for most adults. While everyone is different, it’s important you listen to your body and understand how much sleep you need to be at your best.

Listen to your body clock

Building off the first point, it’s beneficial to understand when your energy levels are typically highest. If you’re slow to wake up, give yourself some extra time in the morning so you’re not still dusting off the cobwebs when you get to work.

Make sure it’s not health-related

If you’re getting enough sleep and still feeling unnaturally tired, it could be a sign of a health problem. Fatigue is a common symptom of many diseases, and something you should disclose to your doctor at your annual checkup.

Check your medications

Listen to your doctors and pharmacists, read prescription labels, and use reputable websites to understand if medications are playing a role in your drowsiness or inability to sleep at night. If you suspect they are, consult with your doctor, who may be able to prescribe similar medications that won’t have the same effect.

Stay hydrated

If you weigh 200 pounds, you should be drinking about 100 ounces (half your body weight in ounces) of water per day, especially if you’re working in a hot environment or physically exerting yourself throughout your shift. Dehydration can cause dizziness and fatigue that have nothing to do with the amount of sleep you’re getting, so keep that water bottle handy.

Exercise regularly

Heading to the gym or going for a run might cause temporary fatigue, but regular exercise actually improves the way your vital organs function to give you more energy. With more energy, you’ll feel more motivated to exercise, creating a cycle that will lead to good habits.

Practice yoga

For some, yoga may be completely unfamiliar, but its effects on the mind and body are well documented. According to an article from Harvard Health, yoga helps with stress, mood, and function, all of which can contribute to physical fatigue.

Add omega-3 oils to your diet

Several recent studies revealed that omega-3 supplements help speed up mental reaction times. Participants in these studies also report more energy. Consider taking fish oil capsules or adding flaxseed oil, salmon, or chia seeds to your diet.

Shed some pounds

Being overweight can affect sleep quality. Conversely, poor sleep quality can affect your weight. That vicious cycle is hard to break, but it could make a world of difference. More than 75 percent of obese adults report a sleep problem, according to the National Sleep Foundation.