I’m a terrible sleeper. Light wakes me up, as does any passing car outside my apartment. I fall asleep usually after an hour contorting in bed, trying to find that ideal sleeping position (which I’m confident doesn’t exist). I’m always tired during the day, despite drinking at least four coffees.
On more than one occasion in lectures, I have feigned being awake by keeping one eye open and maintaining constant eye contact with my professor, while letting the other eye rest (and alternating).
In other words, I am well-practiced at trying to look awake, when I’m most definitely not. If you’re struggling to avoid yawning during a meeting or keeping both eyes open in front of the computer, here are some tips on looking (and feeling) awake right when you need it most.
Splash cold water on your face
Cold water can tighten your pores, make your skin look more even, and give the appearance of looking a little more awake.
Similarly, taking an ice cold shower in the morning has been shown to reduce stress, increase circulation, and help you feel more awake. Regularly drinking water, too, can help keep you stay alert, as dehydration can lead to fatigue.
Fight skin problems with an exfoliant and toner
When you’re sleep deprived, you’re likely to find an oil build-up on your skin (you’re also more likely to get acne, too). Fight both problems with a good exfoliant, which will help clean off dead skin on your face, as GQ recommends. Afterward, use a toner which gets rid of any excess oil, so you’ll look a little more like a normal, presentable person at the office.
Use a moisturizer for dryness
In order to avoid dryness or flakiness, use a good moisturizer (ideally, a light-weight, unscented one). This will help combat some dark spots or unevenness on your face after a long night. Look for non-comedogenic, oil-free ones so you won’t break out (I’ve been there and it’s not pleasant). It doesn’t have to be an expensive brand either, as a number of drug stores sell good, cheap options.
Take a walk
Instead of struggling at your desk, take a short, five-minute walk around the office every hour. This can improve your mood, reduce tiredness, and may even help kick any hunger pangs. It will also get your heart rate up, bring a little colour back to your face, and sustain you for at least a little while longer. It’ll also prove to your colleagues that you can still stand upright! Exposure to sunlight, too, has shown to improve work performance, so get outside if you can, or by a window.
Sit up straight
Sometimes, all you need to look more awake is to think more awake. It sounds simple enough but improving your posture by sitting up straight and keeping your feet on the ground is a good tactic to getting through the day. You’re forcing yourself to stay in position and stay alert (it’s also shown to be a mood and productivity-booster). When you’re too comfortable slouching and all, you’ll want to nod off, so when in doubt, think straight.
Cool your under-eye bags
If you’re desperate to hide those under-eye bags, try cooling them down using an ice pack or cold spoons for at least 20 minutes. This can reduce the swelling of blood vessels under your eyes (which gives the appearance of tiredness). Under-eye bags are often an inherited trait, so while you may never rid yourself of them permanently, it’ll help improve their appearance.
If all else fails (and you have a room available), take a power nap. Nothing beats sleep when it comes to looking more awake. A nap can have immediate benefits for learning, memory, and performance, but whatever you do, limit it to 30 minutes. Any longer and you may risk feeling groggier than ever (and who wants that?).