i'm falling asleep on the job

i’ve been having trouble lately with falling asleep at work. it seems that no matter what i do, i drift off at work. actually, it happens at work, in the car (sometimes when i’m driving), and it used to happen at school. i think it has something to do with concentrating.

anyway, i’m working on that. probably need to eat better or exercise or sleep different hours or something. in the meantime, i need some advice.

today at work, i was having to fight sleep while my supervisor was explaining my job to me. i’d feel myself starting to drift, my eyes got heavy, and then i’d realize that they were closed and i’d jerk awake again. needless to say, this is not good. i like my job and want to keep it.

what i need to know is something that i can do when i feel this coming to keep myself awake so that i don’t piss off my boss. concentrating on what she’s saying just makes me drowsy. any ideas?

First off, get enough, and regular sleep. Get up about the same time everyday, and go to bed the same time every night. If that’s not the cause, it might be a medical condition. As for staying awake, try do some quick exercise every morning, like 50 jumping jacks and some toe touches or something to get your metabolism going. Then, while at work, if you are sitting most of the time, do a brisk walk to the copy machine or whatever. Drinking a lot of water is good, because it’s hard to sleep with a full bladder, which gives you reason to talk a little stretch to the restroom. Don’t eat a heavy lunch. Give yourself a few little breaks throughout the day. If none of this helps, try caffeine. There’s a reason it’s the most popular drug in the world.

This is probably not a trivial matter. You undoubtedly have developed sleep apnea, which is a serious condition which could result in life-threatening consequences–stroke, heart attack, etc., not to mention auto accidents. You should get to a doctor quickly and explain the symptoms. He/she will probably refer you to a sleep clinic, where they can test you and come up with a treatment plan. I had the same situation, as did a number of people I know, and had no clue that my breathing was obstructed at night, and I was constantly suffocating and waking up during the night, not getting much sleep. This all happens while you’re not fully awake, so you don’t realize it’s happening. For more info, check out:


if it is apnea, a CPAP machine may help. it’s a continuous positive air pressure machine, which creates enough pressure to stopyour soft palate from interfering with your breathing. You can get this by perscription from your doctor for little or no cost, depending on your insurence company.

but it may not be apnea. look at your sleep schedule. You may need more sleep than you did in the past, or you may not be getting enough sleep now.

sleep deprivation is a super-hidden health problem. Luckily, if I miss an hour I know it. Either way, if it bugs you enough, see a doctor. good luck.

“if it bugs you enough, see a doctor”

If the doctor dismisses the problem as unimportant, go see a different doctor.

PLEASE! Do not get medical advice from the snap judgements of on-line amateurs, however well-meaning.

Sure, it could be sleep apnea. It could be narcolepsy. It could be stress-related. Fatigue is a symptom of dozens of diseases, including stuff as serious as colon cancer.

GO TO A DOCTOR for a thorough checkup. That will include questions about other symptoms, like blood in the stool or coughing. The doctor may choose to run diagnostic tests, ranging from sleep-tests (to check for apnea) to blood tests to filming the inside of your colon.

Hi, Cessandra, good to see you back on the board.

The first thing is to ask whether you’re falling asleep just because you’re tired. Does your job require you to work strange hours? Do you hold a full time job and also spend fifty hours a week on other activities? Do you have trouble falling to sleep when you do go to bed? Maybe you just need to take a few things off your schedule and get a solid eight hours of downtime every day.

But if you’re sleeping well and still can’t stay awake during the day, then I’d agree with what Dex said. Prolonged and unexplained sleepiness can be sign of a medical problem and that’s something you need to find out. If nothing else, you’ll have something to tell your boss the next time you nod off.

Cessandra -

I stumbled across the following page a while ago (ironically, while looking for info on my company - which has the same initials!)


FWIW, I find the main factors for me being sleepy at work are (a) not getting enough/regular sleep (obvious) and (b) insufficient exercise, especially change from lots of exercise to little.

I’d reinforce what everyone else said about seeing a good doctor (and not just the cheapo HMO kind who will brush you off and grab the $10 copay)

i’m pretty sure this is mostly about not getting enough sleep, and not doing much during the day. (i’m a receptionist, and spend most of the day siting quietly doing literally nothing. not allowed to play online or read, and given no work that might interfere with answering a phone that never seems to ring. hey, maybe my problem is boredom!)

i was just hoping to figure out something to do when i feel it coming on. i try to get up and walk around, but i can’t do that if my supervisor is talking to me.

It sounds as though you may blow off seeing a doctor, reading your original post, I have to agree with Rex that you really need to look into the possibility of sleep apnea. As one who was in your shoes and in denial for some time, I gotta tell you, it really does sound like apnea. If you do a search of the boards here, you will find a couple threads on the subject. Lots of us have it and it is easily diagnosed and treated. Your life and that of others may be at stake. I hope you’ll look into it and report back to us.

normally i wouldn’t “blow off” seeing a doctor. i even considered it. but i don’t have any inusrance, and i’ve already got a hospital bill coming from a recent kidney infection. i went to a charity hospital, but they still want me to pay what i can (which, they are going to find out, is not a hell of a lot.)

Cessandra, I know what you mean. I was “poor” too, no insurance, bills up the ying yang. My turning point was I fell asleep on the highway, going 60 miles an hour with my children and wife in the vehicle. My wife hollered at me in time to get back on the road, but it was “too close”. In my denial, I not only endangered my family, but everyone else on the highway at the time. I sucked it up and made an appointment to see the doctor and managed to finally get it paid off.

As Rex mentioned, there are serious “life threatening” complications to sleep apnea if that is indeed what you may have. Diagnosis is relatively simple, requiring a sleepover in the clinic. As they say, pay what you can, even if it ain’t a whole lot. They can’t get blood from a turnip. I held off the bill collectors by making regular 5.00 a month payments until my situation improved.