It’s 3:15 PM, the sounds of your coworkers typing patters around you distantly, like a soft rain, as your current assignment dances on the computer monitor in front of your glazed over eyes.
You are trying to fight the clawing grasp of drowsiness when the office heater suddenly buzzes to life above your head, cocooning you in warm air, despite your efforts, you feel your heavy head begin to nod forward.
We have all been there, no matter how vigilantly you may try to fight off mid-afternoon drowsiness, more likely than not, you have found yourself a victim to nodding off at work.
When these times strike, we often find ourselves reaching for our favorite mega-caffeinated beverage.
The crisp break of the can and the sizzle of the carbonated bubbles hitting the air is enough to send our veins humming with anticipation.
However, while this may seem like an innocent enough habit to help you stay alert, recent studies suggest that our harmless caffeine addiction may actually be causing long-term damage.
For the most part, the expression “everything in moderation,” applies to caffeine drinks, although for some individuals, there is no amount that can be safely consumed.
A recent study performed by The University of Sydney analyzed over seven years of data from the Australian Poisons Information Center regarding the consumption of energy drinks, and found reports on everything from minor headaches to major heart palpitations and respiratory issues.
The health risks primarily stem from the high caffeine content of the drinks; however, the ridiculous amounts of sugar, taurine (an amino acid,) and guarana (a legal stimulant) are likely contributing to negative health impacts as well.
While most of the ingredients found in energy drinks are also found in common foods, the primary concern with energy drinks is the high concentration of the substances.
In fact, CNN reported that there have been several cases of people going into cardiac arrest after consuming more than one energy drink, the reason being that taurine can affect the levels of water within your blood, causing blood to become a little thicker.
This combined with mass amounts of caffeine can put strain on an otherwise perfectly healthy heart.
Experts recommend keeping your caffeine intake to 400 milligrams or less, which may sound like a lot, but that is the amount of caffeine contained in two servings of common beverages such as 5 Hour Energy, and that is only the recommended amount for healthy adults.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that anyone below the age of 18 should consume no more than 100 milligrams in a day, (far less for children under 12).
Sodas are no different, with mass amounts of sugar, and caffeine, soda can contribute to an abundance of health issues.
In fact, a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who consume 1 to 2 cans or more a day have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The same study also found that drinking too much soda contributed to heart disease. Even small amounts of soda consumed regularly can negatively impact one’s health.
Energy drinks and sodas are not the only caffeinated beverage that should be monitored (coffee addicts, we’re looking at you).
While coffee may be considered a relatively healthy addiction, it should still be enjoyed in moderation, for reasons similar to energy drinks.
Consuming too much coffee (more than 4 cups) can lead to jitteriness, anxiety, irregular sleeping patterns, and even heart palpitations, which are all symptoms of having too much caffeine.
Beyond just caffeine, you heighten your risk if you are someone who enjoys jazzing up your coffee with sugar, syrup, or heavy creams.
These beverages tend to contain loads of calories, which combined with caffeine, are unhealthy if consumed regularly.
Now that we have ruined your life by taking away all of your fun drinks, we would like to offer you some alternatives to help you beat mid-afternoon drowsiness!
When you begin to feel your eyes get heavy, try implementing these tricks before reaching for your beverage of choice:
Make sure your workspace is well lit
By keeping your office / desk bright, your body will naturally feel more energized; natural light is especially great for helping keep people alert.
Get some fresh air
Sometimes all that is necessary to feel re-energized is a quick walk outside to enjoy some fresh air, the change of scenery and the sudden movement will remind your body that it is still daytime and it should be awake.
If the outside weather does not permit you taking a quick walk outside, or if you are pressed for time on an assignment, stand at your desk and perform a few quick stretches. This will get your blood pumping (in a healthy way). Yes, your coworkers may make fun of you a bit, but the jokes on them, because your body is a caffeine-free temple.
Drink like a fish
And by that we mean drink more water. Dehydration can lead to drowsiness and make it more difficult to work, try trading in your favorite caffeinated beverage for some refreshing water.
Snacks, snacks, and more snacks
Eating healthy snacks during the day can help keep your blood sugar steady which in turn, will help you feel more alert. Next time you start to feel sleepy, reach for a protein filled snack like peanut butter and crackers or yogurt. Added bonus, it is difficult to fall asleep while you are eating.
Energizing smells can help keep you awake
Keep a scented candle, hand lotion or natural oils on your desk for when you need an extra boost of energy. Look for citrusy scents or a sharp scent like pine or peppermint to keep you feeling focused.
Turn up your tunes
Try keeping a pair of headphones nearby to plug into some of your favorite music when you begin to feel drowsy. Choose something with a strong bass or upbeat tune so that you don’t accidentally lull yourself to sleep.
The next time you begin to feel tired, try out some of these tips before reaching for your favorite caffeinated beverage. While it is okay to indulge every now and then, ultimately, your body will thank you if you begin to implement a few healthy habits to remain attentive during the day.