5 Things To Keep You Awake

Five little-known tricks to keep yourself awake for longer.

Forget going to sleep — sometimes you really need to stay awake.

Whether it’s extremely long shiftwork, an all night studying binge, or a bout of lengthy travel, keeping yourself awake can be extremely difficult. Sleep is part of our biology, after all. But there are a few little-known ways of shocking your system and ensuring you don’t fall asleep any time soon.

In this article, I’ll show you 5 little-known ways you can keep yourself awake.

Disclaimer: This article mentions drugs. I am not a doctor, and this is not medical advice. I’m just a dude that’s stayed up way too late on a number of occasions, and have done substantial enough research to warrant this article.

Expose Yourself To Direct Sunlight

Manipulate your own biological rhythm by exposing yourself to sunlight at regular intervals.

Ever wonder why human being sleep at night and are awake during the day? It’s all due to our biological clock.

Decreasing amounts of sunlight stimulate secretion of a molecule called melatonin, which puts your body into “sleep” mode and makes you tired.

Direct sunlight exposure, on the other hand, inhibits melatonin while kickstarting your wakeup process. While this will only work at moderate levels of sleep deprivation (20–30 hours), it can help keep you awake long enough to get the job done.

Take Cold Showers or Feel Painful Stimuli

The name of the game is adrenaline.

Adrenaline staves off sleep, heightens your senses, and keeps you alert for longer. It’s the classic “fight-or-flight” chemical that our ancestors evolved with because it increased the likelihood for our survival.

So how do we tap into it in the modern age? Simple. Shock your system with extremely uncomfortable or dangerous stimuli.

Cold showers are a common one. So is exposing yourself to physical pain (like mild electricity) or mental pain (like your fear of heights). Whatever it is, make sure it gets your heart racing.

Take Caffeine (On A Schedule)

Coffee is the obvious choice when trying to keep yourself awake. But it’s important to do it right.

The longer you stay awake, the more that a chemical called adenosine builds up in the brain. The more adenosine in your brain, the sleepier you get.

Here’s how caffeine works: when you drink coffee, the caffeine diffuses into your bloodstream, travels to your brain, and inhibits adenosine signalling. This leads to a decrease in fatigue and symptoms of tiredness.

The tough part about coffee is knowing how much to have, and when to have another one. You don’t want to have too much at once, because your body will start adapting fairly quickly to caffeine metabolism and it’ll have less of an effect. You also don’t want to have too little, because then you won’t have enough of it in your body to fully inhibit the adenosine in your brain.

A better way of taking caffeine for the purposes of wakefulness is to take a moderate amount at regular intervals. The half life of caffeine is five to six hours — at minimum, if you’re taking caffeine for wakefulness, make sure you take it before the half life to keep yourself awake best.

Take Modafinil

Modafinil is the wakefulness drug.

It’s prescribed to military operatives to increase attention and alertness, and many people that have taken it describe literally not sleeping for days.

If you’re in some serious murky water and you need to stay awake, it’s probably your best bet at getting whatever you need done. But be careful — there are a number of side effects that you need to be wary of.

Engage In Physical Exercise

Like cold showers, physical exercise increases your heart rate and adds to the levels of both circulating adrenaline and cortisol.

A great way to keep yourself awake is running. When you find yourself ready to tip over, slap on some running shoes and go for a quick, 10-minute jog.

The jog will increase your heart rate, which, on top of supplying better oxygenation and nutrients to your brain, will also help release adrenaline.

This will give you a pleasant one or two-hour boost of energy and keep you awake for longer.


Human beings require sleep. But sometimes our biological needs are at odds with the needs of contemporary society — and in situations like this, it’s important that you know how to stay awake.

Direct sunlight exposure suppresses melatonin release, keeping you awake. Cold showers kickstart adrenaline secretion, maximizing your alertness and ability to respond to danger. Regular caffeine inhibits adenosine, which staves off fatigue. Modafinil keeps you awake, no questions asked. And physical exercise increases your heart rate and brain oxygenation.

Whichever method you choose, understand that there are risks to keeping yourself awake. Make sure you stay responsible and only stay awake in situations that are absolutely necessary (like reading this article, for example).