In simple terms, drowsiness means feeling sleepy. People feeling drowsy may fall asleep at the most inappropriate times. This condition is also called hypersomnia or somnolence.
Drowsiness most commonly results from improper sleep or lack of sleep. In fact, excessive daytime drowsiness may be a sign of a sleep disorder. Emotional states including depression, anxiety, stress and boredom can also cause it.
It can also be a side effect of certain medications. Other causes include poor diet, an eating disorder, chronic pain, lack of exercise, alcohol misuse, diabetes and underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).
Some symptoms of drowsiness include excess sleepiness during the day, lethargy, irritability, forgetfulness and less energy.
Drowsiness can affect your productivity and even cause havoc in your personal life. With lifestyle changes, a healthy diet and proper sleep pattern, you can easily fight drowsiness.
However, consult a doctor if you begin to feel drowsy after you have started a new medication, taken an overdose of a medication, or sustained a head injury. In addition, if your drowsiness is due to a medical problem or a sleep disorder, seek medical help.
Here are the top 10 ways to fight drowsiness.
1. Commit to a Regular Sleep Schedule
Lack of sleep and disturbed sleep are two of the main reasons behind daytime sleepiness. Hence, setting a proper sleeping schedule is one of the best ways to prevent daytime drowsiness. Proper sleep will even help fight low energy, fatigue, depression and stress.
Different people need different amounts of sleep to function well, however an average of 7 to 8 hours of sound sleep is enough to help your body function properly. To help enjoy sound sleep:
- Maintain a sleep schedule that has a consistent bedtime and wake time.
- Keep your bedroom completely dark to promote restful sleep. If needed, use shades or blinds to block out any exterior light.
- Invest in a good quality mattress, comforter and pillows to improve your sleep quality.
- Read a book or do some relaxing yoga stretches for about 20 minutes before going to bed.
- Limit your screen time staring at computers, TVs or phones in the evening before going to bed.
2. Begin Your Day with Sunlight
Expose yourself to some sunlight every day. This will help keep you alert and energetic throughout the day and fight daytime sleepiness. In fact, sunlight helps regulate sleep-wake cycle as it helps your brain register that it is time to wake up.
Sunlight also helps the body produce vitamin D. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine suggests that vitamin D deficiency could be associated with sleep problems, particularly daytime sleepiness. However, a well-designed future study is needed to come to a concrete conclusion.
When you wake up in the morning, go for a walk in the open air and enjoy sun exposure for at least 15 minutes. Do not apply any sunscreen during this time.
3. Splash Cold Water on your Face
Whenever you feel drowsy, splash some cold water on your face. The sudden change in temperature helps dispel that sleepy feeling and improve your energy level as well as mental focus.
After splashing your face with cold water, stand in front of the cold draft from an air conditioner to make this water therapy even more effective.
You can even take a cool shower in the morning to help drive out sleepiness and also improve your blood circulation.
4. Drink Green Tea after Waking Up
Green tea gives you a boost of energy and stamina that last for hours and prevent drowsiness. It is even effective at fighting fatigue and stress while improving mental focus. In addition, the polyphenols in it help promote better sleep.
Drink a cup of green tea after waking up and a few more cups throughout the day. To make green tea:
- Add 1 teaspoon of green tea leaves to a cup of hot water.
- Cover and steep for 5 minutes.
- Strain, sweeten with honey and drink it.
5. Drink Lemon Water
Drinking lemon water in the morning is another excellent way to get rid of daytime sleepiness. It helps keep the body hydrated and flush out harmful toxins. Dehydration affects the oxygenation of the brain, making you feel more tired and sleepy during the day.
Drink a glass of lemon water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and another 1 to 2 glasses during the day.
To make lemon water, squeeze the juice from ½ lemon into a glass of purified, lukewarm water. If you want, you can add a little honey.
To keep your body hydrated, also consume foods that naturally contain water, such as yogurt, broccoli, carrots and juicy fruits like watermelon, oranges and grapefruits.
6. Eat a Healthy Breakfast and Snacks
To prevent daytime drowsiness, never skip breakfast. Eating a healthy yet light breakfast will keep you active in the morning and more productive in your daily activities.
Moreover, skipping breakfast means your blood sugar will be low in the morning and energy levels down.
A good breakfast includes foods low in fat and full of protein and complex carbohydrates. Include milk, yogurt, eggs, cottage cheese, whole-grain bread, fiber-rich fruits, oatmeal, cereals, nuts and smoothies in your breakfast menu.
In fact, you can rev up your morning with a healthy wake-up smoothie made with low-fat yogurt, strawberries, banana, kiwi, fresh orange juice and a little raw honey.
Avoid eating a heavy lunch and have healthy mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks, such as nuts, fruits, sandwiches, juices and so on. Also, make it a habit to finish your dinner 2 hours before going to bed.
7. Exercise Daily
Regular exercise of 30 minutes, 5 times a week, can greatly help improve your alertness and energy and fight daytime sleepiness. It also improves your sleep quality at night. Outdoor exercise provides the most benefits.
- Enjoy 30 minutes of brisk walking in the morning in a park.
- Do some stretching exercises to get the energy you need for the day ahead.
- Do aerobic exercise in the evening, but avoid doing it just prior to bedtime.
- Also, do breathing exercises a few times during the day to improve blood circulation and fight stress.
- You can also try yoga postures.
Do not overexert yourself while doing exercises so that you feel exhausted.
8. Enjoy Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy can help reduce daytime drowsiness as well as irritability, low energy, fatigue and headaches. Some of the best essential oils for aromatherapy include rosemary, basil and peppermint.
- Place a few drops of your favorite essential oil on a napkin and sniff it from time to time to keep you alert and awake.
- Aother option is to add a few drops of an essential oil of your choice to your bathwater.
- You can even diffuse the oil throughout your office or living room for sustained results.
9. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3
A 2014 study by the University of Oxford suggests that higher levels of omega-3 DHA are associated with better sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep will automatically help fight drowsiness as well as fatigue and mild depression.
In addition, omega-3 fatty acids help boost your immunity and keep you mentally alert throughout the day. Some good sources of omega-3 fatty acids are:
- Fatty fish like salmon, lake trout, sardines, mackerel and albacore tuna
- Walnuts and flaxseeds
- Peanut butter
- Canola oil
- Soybeans and soy products
10. Stay Away from Foods that Cause Drowsiness
Along with eating healthy, you need to be aware of the foods that cause more drowsiness and cut them out of your diet.
- Avoid pastries, pastas, potatoes, and white rice during the day as they make you sleepier.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages in the morning. Though caffeine does help with that feeling of alertness, it is just a temporary stimulant and can make you drowsier later during the day.
- Do not drink alcohol during the day, as it tends to make people sleepy.
- Avoid processed and smoked meat.
- Avoid breakfast foods with added sugars, such as high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar.
- Take a 20-minute power nap during the day to reinvigorate yourself.
- Give yourself a body massage for about 10 minutes to help you relax and fight stress and depression.
- Listening to loud music will also help.
- Include herbs like ginger and cayenne in your diet to fight drowsiness.
- Avoid junk foods, saturated fats and sugar, which can make you drowsier during the day.
- To get a good night’s sleep, try meditation before going to bed.
- Whenever you feel drowsy, get up and take a walk for about 5 minutes.
- Chewing sugar-free gum can also help fight off sleepiness during the day.
- Take short breaks at work to refresh your mind.
- Keep your workplace bright and uncluttered. This will motivate you to be active.
- You can even try acupressure to reduce lethargy and drowsiness.
- Do not stop taking any medication without consulting your doctor.