Beating the need for a nap

By Katharine Swan On Monday, August 23, 2010 At 9:51 AM

One of the biggest challenges I've encountered as a freelance writer is staying awake all day. Working from home makes that afternoon nap harder to resist, probably because I'm surrounded by the quiet comforts of home. Plus, those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that I tend toward a rather nontraditional schedule. For almost a year now, though, I've been forcing myself to go to bed earlier and get up at a decent time (before 9:00 most mornings!). Although I'm not as productive in the daytime as I am late at night, there are some other advantages, such as being on a similar schedule as my husband.

Unfortunately, it does mean that I struggle with sleepiness in the afternoon, particularly on days when I don't go to the barn in the morning. Although it's nice to take a nap sometimes, I almost never take short ones, so a "quick" nap blows half my afternoon. Therefore I've had to learn a few tricks for combating afternoon sleepiness.

* Drink plenty of water. I learned this trick from our water department newsletter, of all places. (Kudos to the writer who put that newsletter together!) Apparently mild dehydration can actually cause you to feel a little sleepy.

* Eat a small lunch. A large meal will make you feel sleepy in the afternoon. I prefer to eat a lighter lunch, along with some snacks throughout the day if I get hungry.

* Snack on something spicy. Did you know that spicy food can actually wake you up if you are getting sleepy? Eat something spicy for lunch, or snack on chips and salsa in the afternoon when you feel yourself starting to drag.

* Go for a walk. Exercise will also wake you up if you are getting sleepy. Even if you don't have time to work out during the day, a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood should get rid of the urge to take a nap. I even sometimes will get up and put away a load of laundry, just to get out of my chair and move around a little!

* Change the scenery. I'm actually writing this from Starbucks on Friday afternoon. I'm a big fan of going to coffee shops and bookstores occasionally to work — if I'm feeling sleepy or bored, I find it usually revives me to work someplace with a little activity. It's hard not to want to sleep when you are surrounded by napping dogs and cats all day long!

Do you struggle with afternoon sleepiness, and if so, how do you stay awake and productive?

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Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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