Picture of Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD, the founder of Milk & Honey Nutrition, is a diabetes dietitian (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) renowned for combining her knowledge of diabetes and culinary expertise into easy-to-follow recipes and articles!


How to Stay Awake Without Coffee

Article Overview

 How to Stay Awake Without Coffee

Managing a good night’s sleep and sustaining energy levels throughout the day can be difficult. 

Most people today lead very busy lives. Most of us reach to a cup of coffee when feeling sluggish, but there are other options to help stay awake and promote better sleeping patterns. 

What are circadian rhythms? 

A circadian rhythm is the 24-hour internal process that regulates your sleep/wake cycle. Metabolism, hormones, and lifestyle factors influence your circadian rhythm. Limiting caffeine later in the day can help reset your circadian rhythm. This promotes better sleep and helps ensure your energy levels are optimal the following day. 

Sleep disorder

Sleep disorders are conditions that can affect quality and duration of sleep on a regular basis. Common sleep disorders include: insomnia, sleep apnea, parasomnias, and restless leg syndrome. 

Sleep deprivation 

Sleep deprivation is caused by a consistent lack of sleep. This causes a decrease in quality of life. Lack of sleep causes your body to release less insulin after eating which leads to elevated blood glucose levels. Also, sleep deprivation is linked to insulin resistance, meaning, you have an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes. 

Coffee can sometimes be a Band-Aid following a less than optimal night’s sleep. However, they are other options that can help promote healthy sleeping patterns. 

Drink Tea to stay awake at work

While it is true that you should attempt to keep your caffeine consumption below 400 mg each day, you can still have a little caffeine on your quest to stay energized without coffee. Tea has less caffeine than coffee. This is a good step for those of us who consume lots of caffeine and may want to cut back. 

 How to Stay Awake Without Coffee

Eight ounces of black tea has 25-48 mg of caffeine, versus 95-165 mg in an eight-ounce cup of brewed coffee. Tea can be a great option for replacing your breakfast (or anytime) coffee fix. Try it with a splash of your favorite milk and you just may want to ditch coffee for good! 

Black tea not your thing? Green tea is a great option too! Eight ounces of brewed green tea has about 25-29 mg of caffeine and is perfect for any time of day. (Caffeine content for coffee, tea, soda, and more

Tea is also full of health-promoting antioxidants. In fact, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports that consumption of black tea may be associated with lower incidence of heart attack and consumption of green tea might be associated with lower bad cholesterol (LDL and triglycerides) and higher good cholesterol (HDL). (The Health Benefits of Tea) Teatime, anyone?

Move More to increase energy level

The World Health Organization recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week and following these guidelines can help you stay energized without coffee. I know this one might seem backwards, but just hear me out. 

When you take care of your body by moving more, your heart and lungs become healthier and more efficient, meaning that they won’t have to work as hard doing everyday activities. This means that things you do each day, like running after your crazy (but wonderful) three-year-old or rushing up the stairs because you’re late to work (again), won’t make you feel absolutely exhausted. 

In addition, research suggests that meeting the recommended 150 minutes per week of physical activity may improve the quality of sleep you get, lessen symptoms of insomnia, and even improve your mood! Physical activity causes your body to release feel-good chemicals called endorphins. These little guys are what causes the famous “runner’s high.” But you don’t have to be a runner to benefit! 

Research suggests that maintaining a regular moderate-intensity exercise routine that meets the guidelines may also improve certain cognitive abilities, like your concentration and attention. (Why Exercise Boosts Mood and Energy) So, if you want to prevent sleep deprivation  and feel like you can tackle anything, find an exercise routine that you love and stick with it. Those endorphins are worth it!

Eat Energizing Foods

Including foods in your diet that contain certain fatigue-busting nutrients can help you stay energized without coffee. (27 Foods That Can Give You More Energy) Try these options:


The omega-3 fatty acids found in this fatty fish may reduce inflammation in your body, which could help you feel less tired. Salmon also provides a fantastic source of B12, which can increase the production of red blood cells. This means that iron can be used more efficiently in your body, giving you an increase in energy.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes provide complex carbohydrates, which are the primary source of energy in your body. These delicious veggies also contain fiber. So, your body digests them more slowly and you receive a longer-lasting supply of energy.

Furthermore, one medium sweet potato has 28% of your recommended daily intake of manganese, a mineral that helps your body break down food to make energy.


Since eggs are a great source of protein, they are able to provide energy that will not cause your blood sugar to have crazy highs and lows. In fact, one of the primary amino acids (the building blocks of protein) found in eggs, leucine, can promote the production of energy inside your cells by helping them use blood sugar and increasing the breakdown of fat. Eggs are also high in B vitamins, which help your body make even more energy.


Oranges are a great source of vitamin C, as we all know, as well as other potent antioxidants. The antioxidant properties of these delicious fruits protect our cells from damage that can cause us to feel fatigued.

 How to Stay Awake Without Coffee


Beans are full of healthy carbohydrates, fiber, and protein, which means that they are fantastic sources of energy that is sustained and won’t cause blood sugar spikes. They also have energy-boosting antioxidant properties that may reduce inflammation in your cells and are full of nutrients. Black beans, for example, are packed with energizing nutrients like folic acid, manganese, magnesium, and iron.

Drink Water 

If you’re trying to stay energized without coffee, it is essential that you drink enough water. Being dehydrated can make any activity feel more difficult. So even if you feel like you are giving it everything you’ve got, if you don’t have enough water in your body, you will not be able to perform as well as usual. And since we now know that exercise can actually give you more energy, it is important to fuel our bodies to make that exercise effective! 

In addition, being dehydrated can lower your blood pressure, increase your heart rate, and reduce the amount of blood flow to your brain. These three factors are sure to make you feel drained and lethargic. (12 Reasons Why Dehydration Is Bad for Your Body) So, drink up! 

Since we are all different, there is no exact amount of water that is adequate for every person. You are unique and so are your water needs. 

The most important thing to remember is to drink water when you are thirsty. It’s that easy! Keep a refillable water bottle near you to help keep you on track for those times that you get busy and distracted. 

 How to Stay Awake Without Coffee: Foods with a high water content also help too!

This becomes especially important during exercise or other instances of excess sweating, for those who are breastfeeding, and/or those experiencing vomiting or diarrhea. (How Much Water Should You Drink Per Day?) And if you’re feeling sluggish, try drinking water!

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