What to Do When You’re Tired at Work

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Who hasn’t been there before?

Whether you spent the night working to death to meet a deadline, met up with your college buddies for a drink that turned into eight or were up late completing that “super easy” home improvement project, chances are you’ve been absolutely exhausted at work at least once.

But don’t feel too bad: According to a recent survey, 76 percent of American workers indicated that they’re tired more than one day a week, while 15 percent said they actually fall asleep at the office once a week. Since most of these folks probably don’t have scientists paying them to study their sleep patterns, the numbers go to show that a vast majority of workers are tired on the job, so rest assured you aren’t alone.

When you’re too tired at work, you can be a little grouchy. Your work, at best, will suffer—at least a bit. Who knows? You may even make an unplanned grievous error that results in termination.

If you find yourself sliding into a seeming delirium while on the clock due to your lack of sleep, consider the following:

1. Focus on less-demanding work.

At any given time, you’ve probably got an eclectic assortment of tasks on your plate. And somewhere in the abysses of your mind, you’ve probably ranked those tasks from most difficult/most annoying to least difficult/most mindless.

Common sense tells us that when you’re tired at work, you should do your best to avoid working on your most important assignments—assuming there’s enough wiggle room in your schedule to do so.  Instead, devote what little energy you have to the menial tasks that you hate doing: answering emails, updating spreadsheets, tweaking web copy, etc.

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2. Get out in the sun more.

Maybe you consider yourself a prisoner, trapped in a room with no exposure to natural light every weekday. If that’s the case, by all means go outside right now and be a human being!

You see, humans get vitamin D from sunlight. Which is important, because vitamin D is essential to our health and well-being. Vitamin D deficiencies are linked to tiredness, so you may want to consider incorporating a midday walk into your work routine to soak up those sunrays.

3. Exercise—however briefly.

Exercising gets the blood flowing. So even if you feel like getting into bed and crawling under 17 blankets, you might want to fight against your instincts and try to work out just a little bit.

For example, try incorporating a few sets of pushups into your morning routine. Odds are you won’t even break a sweat (and even if you do, hop in the shower right after—which is another way to wake up). In any event, you’re likely to feel a bit livelier, as exercise helps release endorphins.

4. Don’t overindulge caffeine. Drink more water.

When you’re tired, you might be tempted to slurp down cup of coffee after cup of coffee after… but don’t do it! Believe it or not, too much caffeine can be a very bad thing.

In fact, you can drink so much caffeine that you build up a tolerance, meaning that quick java fix in the morning may even make you feel more exhausted. And if you become too hooked on caffeine, you can become even more irritable, get headaches and seemingly hate every living creature on the planet all the while draining your wallet in search of the elusive pick-me-up.

Instead of drinking coffee, you should shoot back a couple glasses of water. More specifically, start your morning with a nice cold 16-ounce glass of water. It’ll boost your metabolism, rehydrate you, rid your body of toxins and get your brain juices flowing.

5. Stand up at your desk.

Assuming you’re strong enough to support your own weight with your legs for an extended period of time, if you’re feeling a bit sluggish at work, you may want to consider kicking your chair away and converting your workspace into a stand-up desk.

Science says that standing desks give workers more energy and makes them healthier—so it’s certainly worth a try. You haven’t fallen asleep standing up—have you?

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6. Get enough sleep tonight, and the next day, and the next…

Congratulations! You’ve made it through the day. You’re still employed. But tomorrow’s a workday too, and you can’t suffer a similar fate.

Though it might sound pretty intuitive, the most obvious thing you should do when you’re tired at work is force yourself to get a fantastic night’s sleep when you head home later that day. But back to those numbers toward the top of this article: Apparently this tip is much easier said than done, because most workers are tired at their jobs.

Don’t feel bad if you’re exhausted at work—we’ve all been there before, and chances are we’ll all be there again soon enough. But by making a few changes to the way you treat your body and the way you approach work, odds are you’ll find yourself with more energy in the office. Your work will improve, and promotions and raises will (fingers crossed) follow.

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