Alternatives to caffeine to avoid feeling drowsy

Posted by sb29021 @sb29021, Dec 18, 2021

I am looking for ways to be able to focus on work and stay alert until around 2-3 am. Caffeine makes me unable to sleep but I still feel drowsy. How can you avoid feeling sleepy? Are there any medicines, drugs or foods that will cause you not to feel sleepy and have minimal negative side effects like feeling drowsy during the day or affecting your memory/ attention span?

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Something that keeps me awake is too much screen time. The light from the computer monitor causes me to lay awake for a couple hours after I call it quits for the night. I usually have to minimize light levels for a few hours before bed time. The monitor also has a setting to reduce blue light which helps because it keeps it from interfering with sleep. You can also eat very lightly because a heavy meal just diverts your blood supply to your guts and causes drowsiness.

REPLY

@sb29021 Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. You pose an interesting question.

Our bodies seem to have their own natural circadian rhythm, and it can certainly vary from person to person! When he was working, my husband was ready for bed not long after 8pm, and ready to start his day at 4am. I think he tweaked his natural cycle due to his job of over 40 years. Now he is retired, he [so far] has moved those times back by an hour.

Is there a reason you need to be awake and alert at 2-3am? Is it due to your job? If you are a shift worker, there are challenges to getting proper sleep periods. Ask your co-workers what works for them. When I worked in law enforcement fields, my shifts were 9pm to 9am or vice versa, changing every 8 weeks. Sleeping during the day, I made my bedroom into a "cave", insulation and cardboard over the windows. Shut off the phone, sign on the door to tell people there was a "day-sleeper" and "do not disturb". I also imprinted a specific relaxing CD in my mind to help me nod off. [even 20 years later, that CD has that effect!]

If wanting to be alert in the wee hours of a day is not related to your job, are you willing to try to revamp your project time to fit more with your natural awake/sleep cycle?
Ginger

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@gingerw

@sb29021 Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. You pose an interesting question.

Our bodies seem to have their own natural circadian rhythm, and it can certainly vary from person to person! When he was working, my husband was ready for bed not long after 8pm, and ready to start his day at 4am. I think he tweaked his natural cycle due to his job of over 40 years. Now he is retired, he [so far] has moved those times back by an hour.

Is there a reason you need to be awake and alert at 2-3am? Is it due to your job? If you are a shift worker, there are challenges to getting proper sleep periods. Ask your co-workers what works for them. When I worked in law enforcement fields, my shifts were 9pm to 9am or vice versa, changing every 8 weeks. Sleeping during the day, I made my bedroom into a "cave", insulation and cardboard over the windows. Shut off the phone, sign on the door to tell people there was a "day-sleeper" and "do not disturb". I also imprinted a specific relaxing CD in my mind to help me nod off. [even 20 years later, that CD has that effect!]

If wanting to be alert in the wee hours of a day is not related to your job, are you willing to try to revamp your project time to fit more with your natural awake/sleep cycle?
Ginger

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Great suggestions, Ginger.
After college, I was always a day worker, but sometimes I was on deadlines that kept me working into the wee hours. I knew caffeine was a bad idea, so I looked for options. I have never used any kinds of meds for drowsiness, because I didn't want to start a cycle that would be hard to break.
Two things I found were drinking cold water – because concentrating on work often left me slightly dehydrated, and short bursts of activity. By that I mean either a quick walk, outdoors if possible, getting up and doing some stretching, running in place, etc if I was confined to a room. Or, if I was at home or my own office, get up and do a few quick chores – load or unload washing machine or dishwasher, take out trash, wipe down counters in the office break room – anything to get the blood pumping and break the drowsy cycle.
What have you tried so far?
Sue

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