Sleep is just as important part of a healthy lifestyle as diet and exercise. Many people get less than six hours of sleep due to their busy lifestyles. This results in sleep deprivation and excessive daytime sleepiness, both of which can be harmful to your health in the long run.

Sleepiness can be caused by sleep apnea, a condition which should be diagnosed by your doctor. Fortunately, you can manage excessive sleepiness–without reaching for an energy drink.

Tips to Minimize Excessive Sleepiness

The quickest way to nip sleepiness in the bud is to modify your daily routine to allow you to get more sleep. Other ways to naturally manage excessive sleepiness include the following:

  • Take a nap during the day, about six or seven hours before bedtime. WebMD recommends napping for five to 25 minutes. At break time at work, find a quiet place (other than your desk, if possible) where you can nap without interruption. Use a vibrating alarm clock to wake you up. If this is not feasible, sit quietly and close your eyes for 10 minutes.
  • Eat a healthy energy-boosting snack, such as a small serving of fresh fruit or veggies or yogurt. Drink plenty of fluids to stave off dehydration; it can make you feel tired.
  • Get some exercise. Studies have shown that regular exercise increases energy, improves quality of sleep and relieves excessive daytime sleepiness better than some sleep medications. Take a walk during your breaks, either around your workplace or outside to take in some fresh air. At lunchtime, walk to a nearby restaurant or a nearby spot you can eat your brown-bag lunch.
  • Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, several hours before bedtime so you are not so energized that you cannot fall asleep.
  • Change up your daily tasks. Doing the same thing over and over again gets boring after a while. When we are bored, we get sleepy. If your daily work tasks make you yawn, switch to more engaging projects that will stimulate your mind and concentration.
  • If you are driving and start to feel tired, have someone else drive or pull over to take a nap. If it will be a long road trip, take someone with you who can drive when you get sleepy. Take a rest stop every two hours to get some fresh air and walk around.

Should You See a Doctor?

If excessive daytime sleepiness is still a problem even after trying all or some these tips, see your doctor or a qualified sleep specialist to rule out sleep apnea. They can help to determine the cause of your sleepiness as well as give you an appropriate course of treatment.