14 Ways To Get More Energy Without Caffeine

Get the energy boost you need without relying on coffee.

Getty Images

If you're struggling to keep your eyes open halfway through the workday—coffee can be a quick fix to that mid-day energy slump. It can boost your energy by stimulating your nervous system so that you feel more awake. But relying on caffeine can be inconvenient and it can cause some health issues such as:

  • Increasing blood pressure
  • Heartburn or an upset stomach
  • Interfering with calcium absorption

Luckily coffee isn't the only thing that can give you energy. Instead of drinking coffee, try these other methods to feel more energized.

Avoid Using Electronics Before Bed

"Using electronics before sleep has been shown to be disruptive to sleep and can result in feeling tired and less cognitively sharp," said Tiffany Herlands, PsyD, assistant professor of medical psychology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

One study found that participants who read eBooks before falling asleep were less alert in the morning compared to those who read a printed book. Reading eBooks before bed also made it more difficult for participants to fall asleep.

In another study, using an electronic device before bed for a long period of time was associated with poor quality of sleep. Researchers recommended using your electronic device for less than 30 minutes before bed.

Use Sunlight to Your Advantage

The body responds to lightness and darkness as signals to be awake and to fall asleep. Specifically your circadian rhythm—physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle—takes these light and dark signals so that your body knows when to rest and when to be awake.

Wake Up to Sunshine

If waking up feels difficult, try leaving your blinds or curtains open. Sunlight helps to regulate the circadian rhythm and if you leave the curtains closed and wake up to darkness—you aren't letting your biological clock recognize that it's time to be awake.

"Particularly if you travel frequently or suffer from 'social jet lag' (that is, sleeping significantly longer on weekends and then trying to get back in sync for the week)," said Carl Bazil, MD, a professor of neurology and director of the sleep division of the department of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. "Your body becomes set to awaken later and has trouble getting to sleep at night."

Try Artificial Sunrises

Sensitive sleepers who favor blackout curtains in their bedroom can still benefit from the morning light, thanks to gradual alarms that mimic the rising sun. "The wake-up alarms (set your biological clock as the sun does)," said Dr. Bazil, "but have the advantage of not lighting up the room at 5 a.m. at certain times of the year!"

Increase Your Vitamin D

On the subject of sunlight—vitamin D (which comes from sunlight) is a necessary vitamin that helps your bones grow and develop. Low vitamin D levels can cause fatigue and weakness.

By increasing your vitamin D levels, either by getting more sunlight or by taking vitamin D supplements, you can reduce muscle fatigue and keep your muscle cells healthy. If you suspect you have a vitamin D deficiency, talk to a healthcare provider before starting a supplement.

Eat Regularly

Eating a well-balanced diet can give you all of the energy you need throughout the day. You get energy from food, after all.

You should aim to eat regularly—every three to four hours. Eating more frequently allows you to fuel your body throughout the day and prevent hunger between meals. The best snacks for lasting energy contain lean protein and fiber-rich carbohydrates. Here are some examples:

  • Apples
  • A handful of unsalted nuts
  • Carrots
  • String cheese
  • Low-fat Greek yogurt
  • Fresh berries

Research showed that more frequent meals was associated with higher levels of alertness.

Some foods with added sugars (soda, sugary coffee, energy drinks) can give you short term energy. But after an hour or so of consuming the snack, you may experience a drop in energy and you'll be more tired than before you had the sugary snack.

So be sure to snack regularly between meals with protein- and fiber-rich foods to provide you with lasting energy.

Try Singing

Participating in a musical activity has been shown to increase energy levels. One study found that subjects who actively made music through singing, keyboard playing, or rhythm tapping felt more energetic.

In contrast, listening to music or a story has the chance of decreasing your energy. The next time you listen to music, try participating in order to feel more awake.

Do Breathing Exercises

Yoga breathing techniques, called pranayama, can affect your mind and how your body feels—it can help you feel more energized.

According to a 2020 study, using fast and forceful exhales improved reaction time. Meanwhile, slow and mindful breathing improved insight and anxiety.

This adds to another study that found that breathing techniques improved attention and memory. Fast breathing especially improved reaction time.

One fast breathing technique is called "kapalabhati," or the breath of fire. In this technique, you take short, rapid breaths through your nose and forcefully contract your diaphragm and belly. Trying this technique or another pranayama could help you feel more alert.

Take a Quick Nap

Naps can help to restore alertness and recover from sleepiness. A short nap (15–30 minutes) is recommended during the day. You should set an alarm so that you don't sleep longer than 30 minutes. It may be helpful to use an eye mask or ear plugs to block out any light or distractions that may keep you awake.

Long naps (1.5 hours) are recommended for people who work long hours. Napping for a longer period of time can make it harder to fall asleep at night so it isn't recommended for everyone. But, if you are sleep deprived or fighting a cold or infection, it's unlikely you will have trouble falling asleep at night after taking a long nap during the day.

Research found that naps of any length can help improve cognitive performance and how alert you feel.

Find Ways to Relieve Stress

Stress can affect your health in many ways—including sleep. Long term stress may cause difficulty sleeping and contribute to fatigue. Relieving that stress can ease your fatigue and give you more energy.

According to research, if you're stressed you are more likely to start work fatigued and become more tired during the day. Here are a few ways you can relieve stress:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Meditate
  • Try breathing exercises
  • Get enough sleep every night
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Reach out to friends and family for support

If you are having severe symptoms for more than two weeks, reach out to a healthcare provider or a mental health professional so they can help you figure out how to cope with stress.

Drink Water

If you're trying to replace caffeine, water is a great substitution. Especially because being dehydrated can make you feel tired. And you may not even realize that you are dehydrated in the first place. Other symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Dry skin
  • Urinating and sweating less than normal

Be sure you drink enough water and watch out for signs of dehydration.

Chew Gum

According to research, the act of chewing gum can increase alertness and help you focus more on the task at hand. In one study, participants chewed gum while studying a 20-minute physiology lesson. The results showed that those who chewed gum during the lesson were more alert than those who did not.

Get a Massage

Even a short massage could help your brain function. One study involved providing 25 people with a brain massage for 20 minutes. Researchers found that after 20 minutes of brain massage, mental fatigue was decreased significantly. The study also found an increase in:

  • Cognitive functioning
  • Sustained attention
  • Long-term memory
  • Short-term memory

In short—if you're dealing with mental fatigue or need assistance in paying attention, a massage might be able to help.

Press Your 'Kiss Point'

"This is the simplest technique I know to quickly boost alertness and energy, no matter where you are," said Marilyn Kier, a member of the American Massage Therapy Association and founder of Wellness At Work in Illinois.

"The 'kiss point' (also known in acupressure as GV-26) is located between your upper lip and nose, about a third of the way down from the bottom center of your nose," said Kier. "Using a fingertip, apply pressure for one minute."

Get Enough Vitamin B12

A vitamin B12 deficiency is when your body doesn't have enough vitamin B12, a vitamin that is essential to keep your blood and nerve cells healthy. Vitamin B12 deficiencies can cause fatigue and weakness.

Most adults need 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 per day. However, people who eat a vegetarian or vegan diet might have trouble getting enough vitamin B12 since only animal foods have vitamin B12 naturally. And those who are over 50 years old may not get enough B12 naturally.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you suspect you may be low on vitamin B12. In the meantime, you can try eating more B12-rich foods like yogurt, milk, oysters, sardines, and beef.

Take a Break for Physical Activity

"If you've lost your focus staring at the computer," Kier said, it might be time to take a small break.

One study found that incorporating short periods of moderate-intensity physical exercise throughout the day can improve mood, decrease fatigue, and improve overall well-being at work without negatively affecting work performance.

So if you spend most of your day sitting, it might be a good idea to get up and walk around throughout the day so that your energy levels can stay up.

A Quick Review

If you are trying to cut back on your caffeine intake, there are many other ways to get energy and remain energized throughout the day without resorting to a cup of coffee.

Since you get energy from food, try to eat regularly throughout the day (with lean proteins and fiber-rich carbohydrates). You can also substitute caffeine with water to avoid dehydration and the fatigue that comes with it. Or maybe you want to try relieving stress with exercise or meditation. However you decide to get more energy—there are plenty of alternatives to that cup of coffee.

Was this page helpful?
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Library of Medicine. Caffeine.

  2. Chang AM, Aeschbach D, Duffy JF, Czeisler CA. Evening use of light-emitting eReaders negatively affects sleep, circadian timing, and next-morning alertness. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2015;112(4):1232-1237. doi:10.1073/pnas.1418490112

  3. Pham HT, Chuang HL, Kuo CP, Yeh TP, Liao WC. Electronic device use before bedtime and sleep quality among university studentsHealthcare (Basel). 2021;9(9):1091. doi:10.3390/healthcare9091091

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Effects of light.

  5. National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Circadian rhythms.

  6. National Library of Medicine. Vitamin d.

  7. Sizar O, Khare S, Goyal A, Givler A. Vitamin d deficiency. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022.

  8. Dzik KP, Kaczor JJ. Mechanisms of vitamin D on skeletal muscle function: oxidative stress, energy metabolism and anabolic stateEur J Appl Physiol. 2019;119(4):825-839. doi:10.1007/s00421-019-04104-x

  9. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Eating to boost energy.

  10. de Rijk MG, van Eekelen APJ, Kaldenberg E, et al. The association between eating frequency with alertness and gastrointestinal complaints in nurses during the night shiftJ Sleep Res. 2021;30(5):e13306. doi:10.1111/jsr.13306

  11. Lim HA, Watson AL. Musical tasks and energetic arousal [published online ahead of print, 2018 Mar 8]J Music Ther. 2018;10.1093/jmt/thx020. doi:10.1093/jmt/thx020

  12. Campanelli S, Tort ABL, Lobão-Soares B. Pranayamas and their neurophysiological effectsInt J Yoga. 2020;13(3):183-192. doi:10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_91_19

  13. Sharma VK, M R, S V, et al. Effect of fast and slow pranayama practice on cognitive functions in healthy volunteersJ Clin Diagn Res. 2014;8(1):10-13. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/7256.3668

  14. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Napping.

  15. Dutheil F, Danini B, Bagheri R, et al. Effects of a short daytime nap on the cognitive performance: a systematic review and meta-analysisInt J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18(19):10212. Published 2021 Sep 28. doi:10.3390/ijerph181910212

  16. National Library of Medicine. Stress.

  17. Parker KN, Ragsdale JM. Effects of distress and eustress on changes in fatigue from waking to workingAppl Psychol Health Well Being. 2015;7(3):293-315. doi:10.1111/aphw.12049

  18. National Library of Medicine. Dehydration.

  19. Ginns P, Kim T, Zervos E. Chewing gum while studying: effects on alertness and test performance. Appl Cognit Psychol. 2019;33(2):214-224. doi:10.1002/acp.3467

  20. Lim JH, Kim H, Jeon C, Cho S. The effects on mental fatigue and the cognitive function of mechanical massage and binaural beats (Brain massage) provided by massage chairs. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 2018;32:32-38. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2018.04.008

  21. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin B12.

  22. Bergouignan A, Legget KT, De Jong N, et al. Effect of frequent interruptions of prolonged sitting on self-perceived levels of energy, mood, food cravings and cognitive functionInt J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2016;13(1):113. doi:10.1186/s12966-016-0437-z

Related Articles