post written by: Marc Chernoff

17 Drug-Free Ways to Stay Awake

Drug-Free Ways to Stay AwakeStaying awake is easy… 5 shots of espresso and 2 lines of cocaine is all you need.  You’ll certainly be wide awake and wired, but you may also die from a heart attack a few hours later.  In all seriousness, conquering drowsiness before it overwhelms your mind can be quite a challenge without the help of drugs.

So the big question is:  What are some healthy, drug-free ways to stay awake when you must?  Let’s take a look at 17 possibilities.

  1. Crank Up the AC – Warm, stuffy environments accelerate mental fatigue.  If you need to stay awake in a lecture hall or meeting room find an open seat under an AC vent.
  2. Cold Water – Splash some on your face and the pulse area of your wrists.  Drinking an ice-cold glass of water can also help to wake you up, and if you drink enough of it you’ll be up on your feet using the restroom every 30 minutes as well.
  3. Fasting at Mealtime – The human body expends a great deal of energy during the digestion process.  This can create a great deal of fatigue when you are trying to stay awake.  Fasting is a great way to avoid this natural fatigue.  As long as you are drinking enough water, fasting for a meal or two is also a healthy way to detoxify your cells and rejuvenate organs.
  4. Light Exercise Breaks – Take a break and take a walk or do a couple jumping jacks to get your blood moving.  Even the slightest bit of exercise can act as a healthy way to energize your mind and body.
  5. Chew Sugar-Free Peppermint Gum – It won’t rot your teeth and it will generate just enough physical activity to keep you awake.  Strong peppermint flavors seem to work best for me… there’s just something about that refreshing minty taste.
  6. Write – The idea is to keep your mind busy.  If you are attending a lecture or business meeting, write down everything that is said.  If you are simply trying to stay awake, create a detailed to-do list for the week or plan out your perfect weekend getaway.
  7. A Good Laugh – Watch a funny video clip or read your favorite comic strip.  A good chuckle will stimulate your mind and help you to stay awake a little while longer.
  8. Inspirational and Motivational Material – Sometimes all you need is a little pep talk.  Watch a video clip that inspires you.
  9. Music – If it’s not too much of a distraction, listening to fast beat music can be a great way to keep your mind awake.
  10. Tickle the Top of Your Mouth Cavity – Obviously, you’ll want to do this with your tongue.  Rub your tongue against the top front area of your mouth cavity.  It feels a little weird, but it does give you a quick, irritating nerve jolt that can actually help to keep you awake.
  11. Turn On All the Lights – Darkness promotes sleepiness.  Turn on every light in the room.
  12. Hangout with a Friend – It’s so much easier to stay awake when you have someone else to interact with.
  13. Play Video Games – First-person shooters, fast paced driving games, or online RPGs like the great World of Warcraft are sure to keep you wide awake.
  14. Go Outdoors – Getting some fresh air outdoors is always a good way to rouse your senses.
  15. Pull Down on Your Earlobes – This may sound strange, but pulling down on your earlobes can help you stay awake and alert when you’re feeling drowsy.  Just try it.
  16. Nutritious Low Carb Snacks – Low carb fruits such as raspberries, apples, oranges, and grapefruits are great energy boosters.  Heaping scoops of spicy salsa on a few small crackers is another goodie.  Stay away from meats, breads and dairy products.
  17. Get Enough Sleep When You Can – This one should be obvious.  The best way to stay awake is to be well rested.  If you get enough sleep on a regular basis it will be much easier for you to stay awake or pull an all-nighter when you absolutely must.

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  • Thinking about sex does the trick too. Kept me alive on a late night road trip.

  • Sex is one of those simple pleasures. ;-)

  • Light exercise is my second favorite, but someguy and Marc stole my thunder, so I’ll talk about my #2. I enjoy a light exercise like push-up, squats, or a walk around the block. It helps me focus on the moment and forget about all the junk that’s floating around my brain.

  • @Karl:
    I completely agree. A quick, light exercise session is one of the primary keys to staying awake and keeping the mind fresh. I use this trick on a regular basis, even in the office. I’ll take a short walk outside, do knee raises in my office for 2-3 minutes, and sometimes handle a few push-ups too.

  • Fantastic post. I usually have some late nights blogging and promoting my blogs and look forward to trying some of your tips!

  • I’ll stick to the cocaine, thanks.

  • How about eating apples?

  • Lauderdale is right… coke… speed and crystals work best.

  • If you are so unfortunate to have flies in your office as we do, (we’re located on a farm) you’ll be sure to stay up all day. Trust me, I’m going insane as I type this.


  • WoW will definitively keep you awake. Too bad I can’t play at work!! ;-)

  • a great way to stay awake is smoke cigarettes if you are a smoker, it vitalizes you nervous system and keeps you alert. And shut down the television, and not watch TV, it causes your brain to distract the central cord and weaken the brain which then leads to sleepiness.

  • I HATE Mr. Lenzi’s home work assignments. I am up till 3 in the moring doing the home work. Thanks for the tips. Hope they work.

  • I really appreciate this list as a college student I am constantly sleep deprived and I will be sure to try out all of these tips!
    Also, everything else you guys write is equally awesome

    Thank you!

  • and any product like extenze or ensyte makes your blood flow better witch will also make you stay up

  • I’m currently switching from a monophasic style of sleeping (sleeping once a day, like most Americans) to sleeping 2 times a day, for an hour each. Supposedly, if you space them perfectly apart, you can sleep for 2 hours, fall immediately into REM sleep, and feel perfect in when you wake up. On my first time night right now, and I have an hour and a half before I can take my first name. I’m very much looking forward to it! Thanks for the tips!

  • ok this actually worked. its around 3:00am and i was super tired , so i read this (above)

    and one of them said, pull down on your earloabs,

    i did it for about 5 seconds then i wasnt tired at all


  • hey.. superb post… i love the Tickle the Top of Your Mouth Cavity :)

  • the whole earlobe thing… wow, that’s kind of scary, i did it too, and now I can keep my eyes open

  • I’m on a bs watch from 0000-0800…i’ve been up since 0600…I’m exhausted….I did the earlobe and the mouth cavity at the same time…worked great…just 7 more hours to go…

  • Thanks, I have to write a ten page essay due tomorrow and this is the second night I’ve had to pull an all-nighter. Two nights to write a ten-page essay!! Man, I’m gonna be a zombie tomorrow at school… Like I wasn’t one today… good gods.

    Some of these ways to stay awake I can’t do, but the ones I can, they really help me. Greatly appreciated!

    PS: “Good Gods” was taken from Xena Warrior Princess. :)

  • I just tried number 10 and I must admit it works. You just saved me from having Red Bull :)

  • Woah… the earlobe trick worked!

  • Wow!
    Just I haven’t been able to sleep ALL summer before 7am.
    Insomnia? xD
    So I randomly Googled
    “how to stay awake naturally”
    & found this.
    I’ve done ALMOST EVERYTHING on this list.
    I’m not so much tired anymore,
    but I’m still yawning, & whenever I yawn I seem to feel a little tired again.
    I’m staring at the computer right now, & I’m not really blinking. Whenever I look away, I’ll blink & I get REALLY tired.

    I’m FREEZING, (All AC’s on)
    & I’m shakingggg.
    Fml. But these helped alot :)
    Thank you!! :D

  • I will def. have to try everything on this list.My friend is over and we want to stay up all night.I have heard good comments about these tips and I hope they will help us go to sleep.Thanks ;)

  • Before I did the ear lobe trick I though there were weights attatched to my eyelids! I feel fine now.
    Another trick I use regularly is to gently rub my temples and the back of my neck, also going for short walks around the block every 2 hours helps.

  • me and my friend have done pretty much all of these and they work great! what i noticed is typing or being on facebook helps you stay awake too!
    and when your very sleepy, everything just seems kinda funny and if your with somebody its easier to laugh :) tying back your hair really helps too, especially if the AC’s on.

  • DarknessQueen10101
    August 7th, 2010 at 10:32 am

    It’s really freaky, but the earlobe thing works! I HAVE TO DO IT EVERY FIVE MIN. THOUGH:( BUT! other than that it works great!!! :D it’s 7:31 a.m. i’ve been up all night this helps!!!!!!! THAAAAANK YOOOOOUUU!!!!!!!!! :P

  • Well I work in an office answering phones and typing. The hrs are 11pm-7:30am. It is very slow but I can’t leave my desk. During my 30min lunch I sleep and sometimes when it’s very slow I catch myself dozing off. I have a 7yr old and 6mon old at home so it can be hard to get my sleep during the day. I’ve tried the 5hr drinks but they don’t work.

  • Yesterday i was trying to stay awake,doing something on y computer,+reading some blogs,but the real reason was i had some homework to be done,one moment i was very tired and suddenly the chair also was not so comfortable,i laid on a couch,started some thoughts,but the next thought was not so good when i woke up in the morning,and i was also late to school.Next day i went to find something and found this. :)

    Thank you very much,this was so helpful!! (:
    PS:Nice blog!

  • Ahahaha. THIS.

    This will be most helpful. College and good sleep do not associate with each other as of late. I do hope they’ll get along someday.

  • You sure it really works?
    Hm.. :/
    Imma feeling so sleepy now!!!!!

  • Thanks I will use some of these tips in going for Realm First Level 85 in the next World of Warcraft expansion :)

  • Whoa! These tricks actually work! I’ve worked nights Christmas eve and Christmas day and also tonight (boxing day night) and I haven’t slept in 72 hours. With the help of coffee and these tricks I’m sure I’ll last until 7 am tomorrow morning! thanks!!!!


    I don’t recommend trying physical exercise that demand a lot of work. I nearly killed myself doing chin ups over the stairs at work.! just a little hint of advise. Your body may not feel tired but your muscles are really tired and you just don’t realize it!

  • through years of practice i am now easily able to stay up all night, i even made it all night AFTER i took sleeping drugs once. but i’ve been about 2 or 3 days with little to no sleep and now i am reaching my limits… hopefully some of these things help, thanks.

  • oh thank you so much.i just had to comment. I have so much work and studies to get done and i was so worried i would not be able to get through the entire night or may be i would be forced to start drinking coffee. Definitely going to try some or may be all of this.

  • i flew from usa to the uk yesterday and i have been up all night in london city and im so sleepy i have tried this tips and they have really helped alot thank you for posting this.. ps london is great ;)

  • i’ve been staying up for months now due to college (2nd yr, pre-med) best techniques i found for staying are: Big meal in the morning 7am, even of you stayed up that late go eat a good meal, and carry out the rest of the day with snacks. Drink coffee when you feel the need, drink lots of water!!, play music ( quiet classical music when studying, loud songs when your on breaks) watch something you enjoy every hour or so after studying (make sure it makes you laugh).And lots cigarettes . hope this helps

  • hey,
    I’m in year 10 and im always tired, i cant seem to sleep “that” well at night, and tend to be more sleepy during the day, i cant really sleep in the day cos of my lessons and shizzle.
    I would love to know what would keep me awake at school, so then i can fall asleep at home in my own bed, not on the school desk.
    Anyone help me? Email me …
    (I’ve also got important exams going on so i need to be awake and pay attention)

  • This really did help! :-)

  • justanotherdude
    May 8th, 2011 at 6:40 am

    The funny thing is that reading makes me sleepy, so I was konked out right after “Crank The AC”…Just Kidding! but in all seriousness, reading does create drowsiness… but lay off the thrillers and vampire novels!

  • Best way to stay awake: Force yourself not to sleep. It’s actually not so hard to just force your organism to stay awake. When I’m about to sleep I just go like “wake up you sleepyhead!!” drop a few slaps on my face and go to the bathroom to drop some water on my face and then I am just 100% awake.

  • so weird but the mouth and earlobe thing really work

  • Wow the earlobe tricked worked so great! Tickling the roof of your mouth worked great too! Thx!

  • I needed to stay awake on a few night shifts. And surprisingly, these tips really helped me out. Thank you.

  • Epar The most Deadly
    August 18th, 2011 at 5:00 am

    Cheers man! This helped me out loads for late night work and generally staying on the ball. Peace.

  • I find that splashing water on your face really helps.
    Also do NOT watch tv/movies.

  • Guys, old tradition my brother and I try to stay up all night on Christmas Eve and these tips allowed me and him to stay up from 4:00 p.m. on (Christmas Eve) to 10:00 p.m. (Christmas afternoon)… A new record. Thank you.

  • Try watching a VERY bone chilling horror movie, I watched The Mist and I couldn’t sleep for two days XD

  • Chewing sugar free gums are a really good method in staying awake… the chewing stimulates your brain and makes you feel a lot more awake. Try this during your exam after pulling an nighter studying or when you’re driving long hours.

  • recoveredanorexic
    April 19th, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    You’re right about the fasting–I always wondered why I stopped sleeping when I stopped eating, and your guess seems pretty legit. I don’t recommend fasting for long periods of time though. There are better ways to stay up. When it comes time to pull an all-nighter, don’t skip dinner, just have a lighter dinner… and use the other ideas he mentioned.

  • When all measures failed, as I was slowly drifting into the abysmally creepy clutches of sweet slumber, I chanced upon a new and apparently the most effective way to keep awake. Wait for it……..COMMENT WARS on Facebook! :D It works!

  • It’s new years eve and I needed to stay up this year till the ball drops but I always doze off. These helps a lot!

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