15 Coffee-Free Ways To Boost Your Energy Levels

Coffee is a versatile beverage, and odds are good that you have a strong preference for how you enjoy it. Whether you drink it black, iced, in cappuccino form, or frozen with flavored syrup and a dollop of whipped cream, it's also likely that you depend upon it to wake you up each morning. You aren't alone. According to YouGovAmerica, 75% of adults in the United States drink coffee, with roughly 53% drinking a minimum of one cup per day. Additionally, 45% of people who drink coffee and other caffeinated beverages do so specifically to feel more awake or alert, per Food Insight.

While coffee is delicious and its daily kick of caffeine may initially make you feel energized, coffee also causes crashes that can leave you feeling drained and exhausted. Luckily, boosting your energy levels doesn't require coffee or caffeine in any of its ingestible forms. There is a number of reasons why you might be looking to kick your morning coffee addiction, from saving money to limiting your reliance on caffeine. Whatever the reason, the following guide will help you learn to boost your energy levels without coffee.

Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep per night

If you find yourself depending on caffeine to get through a normal day you're likely not getting an adequate amount of sleep. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults 18 to 60 years old require a minimum of seven hours of quality sleep per night for optimal health and well-being. Not only will getting in seven to eight hours of sleep help you think more clearly and improve mental function, but it can also help reduce stress, make you get sick less often, and help you get along better with others. Quality sleep also promotes a healthy heart by lowering your blood pressure and lowering your resting heart rate, per the Sleep Foundation.

When you sleep is just as important as how much you sleep. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that you should set a biological clock for your body. Depending on where you live and your job, ideally this would look like sleeping at night and being alert during the day.

Improve your sleep hygiene

If you're not getting the recommended amount of sleep per night, you may need to address your sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene consists of the habits and behaviors you partake in that influence your sleep patterns (via The Sleep Doctor). While good sleep hygiene can make you feel more rested and help you fall asleep faster, poor sleep hygiene can cause restless, disrupted nights.

To start, ensure you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day to build a healthy routine. Doing so trains your body to adhere to its natural circadian rhythm. Creating a sleep-friendly bedroom is also helpful for obtaining a quality night's rest. To get the best sleep, your bedroom should be between 66 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, dark, and quiet. This means turning off the TV or distracting music and putting your phone out of reach.

What you eat and drink can also play a major role in your sleep hygiene. The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School recommends avoiding alcohol and caffeine at least 6 hours before bed. You should also skip eating large, heavy meals right before bed. "When we eat late at night, the muscles that digest and metabolize our food have to keep working when they should be resting. This can delay your ability to fall asleep and prevent you from getting the deep, restful stage of sleep you need to feel refreshed the next day," Kate Watts, M.S., R.D.N., L.D.N., C.D.E., tells Cone Health.

Quit hitting snooze

As tempting as it is to hit snooze once or twice in the mornings you just don't want to get up, it's not an ideal way to start your day. The handful of minutes you think are helping you catch up on extra Zs may actually be contributing to negative health effects, including high blood pressure, a faster heartbeat, or a dependence on caffeine. According to Headspace, snoozing for five to 10 minutes every morning disrupts your REM sleep, or the restorative dream state necessary for feeling refreshed the next morning. These tiny chunks of time aren't enough to send you back into REM sleep and are really just a disruption to your natural sleep patterns.

Research suggests that some people are more predisposed to snoozing than others. A 2022 research study published in the journal Sleep found that females are 50% more likely to hit snooze than males as well as night owls. The study reported that snoozers were more likely to walk less throughout the day and had an elevated resting heart rate and less restful sleep.

Whether you are naturally inclined to hit snooze or not, it can be a hard habit to break. In addition to improving your sleep hygiene, refraining from playing on your phone before bed, meditating, or moving your alarm device across the room can all help you kick the habit. When your alarm goes off, sitting up and turning on a light can also help you feel more awake faster (via Sleep Advisor).

Establish a regular exercise routine

Swapping out your morning triple espresso for exercise is a surefire way to eliminate chronic fatigue and boost your energy levels. According to the International Sports Sciences Association, a regular exercise routine is essential for helping you stay fit and healthy and helping you maintain optimal energy levels. Regular physical activity also helps improve the quality and duration of sleep. "Physical activity creates more adenosine in the brain, and adenosine makes us feel sleepy," Dr. W. Christopher Winter tells Everyday Health. "The harder we work out, the more driven we are by this chemical to sleep."

A combination of resistance training and cardiovascular exercise is ideal for giving your body what it needs to stay healthy. However, that doesn't mean you have to be a slave to the gym or the treadmill. According to the Mayo Clinic, a daily brisk walk can help increase your energy levels, improve your mood, reduce stress, and prevent or manage a variety of chronic health conditions. Other forms of exercise such as yoga, jumping rope, stationary biking, and even freeform dancing are all good physical activities to boost your energy levels. 

Limit your alcohol intake

That daily glass of post-work wine or nightcap may be making it difficult for you to sleep, leading to lower energy levels throughout the day. According to FHE Health, alcohol acts as a depressant to your central nervous system. While this can lead to feelings of relaxation, calm, or sleepiness, the long-term effects of drinking too much alcohol can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. "Your fatigue may be permanent hangover symptoms and it's one of the most common causes [of] adults [experiencing] low energy levels," Dr. Harold Jonas tells Thrillist. "Alcohol can seriously disrupt your sleep by interfering with your body's chemical processes needed for sound sleep. If you consume multiple alcoholic drinks on a regular–or even daily basis–you may no longer experience traditional hangover symptoms, such as a raging headache or stomach issues."

Although this is more of a concern for people who drink to excess on a regular basis, even small amounts can lead to reduced quality of your sleep or disrupted sleep. The sedative effect of alcohol wears off when it metabolizes in your body and keeps you in lighter stages of sleep throughout the night, making nightmares, sleepwalking, and fatigue more likely. If you struggle with staying awake during the day, limiting your alcohol intake may prove beneficial.

Eat a balanced diet

When you feel tired, the last thing you want is to prepare a balanced, home-cooked meal. You want something fast and easy, be it a drive-thru burger and fries or a DoorDash order from your favorite Italian restaurant. While these foods are generally fine in moderation, they may be contributing to your perpetual feelings of low energy or fatigue.

The types of food you eat can play a dramatic role in your overall energy levels. Aim for a balanced diet that includes whole grains, berries, beans, lentils, and sources of quality animal or plant-based protein. Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, including spinach, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli, are helpful for supporting your energy levels and a healthy immune system. "When fatigued, you're weaker and more susceptible to sickness, so keeping the immune system strong is pivotal," Ginger Hultin, M.S., R.D.N., C.S.O., tells Well + Good. "Include greens with lunch or dinner daily. Eating them gives you a boost of fiber, anti-inflammatory antioxidants, and vitamin C to improve your gut, heart, and boost your immune system."

In addition to limiting your intake of fast food and fried foods, try limiting energy-draining foods like white bread or foods with added sugars. "Packaged, processed foods tend to make you feel sluggish and heavy," geriatrician Alicia Arbaje, M.D.., M.P.H., tells Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Reduce your processed carb intake

Despite their diet-culture reputation, carbohydrates are not inherently bad. They are an incredibly needed macronutrient responsible for providing the body with glucose, which is needed for normal physical activity, brain function, and energy (via The Nutrition Source). In other words, they are your body's main source of fuel. However, refined or processed carbs like white bread, white rice, and pasta, can be detrimental to your overall energy levels. They are also linked to chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Refined carbs come in the form of sugars and refined grains, both of which are digested quickly leading to post-meal blood sugar and insulin level spikes (via Healthline). The spikes sap your energy and make you feel tired. These carbs are also lacking in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which means they don't support your body's needs. According to Time Magazine, switching from these refined carbs to complex carbs like brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, and fruits and vegetables is not only more nutritious but can help you feel more energized.

Manage stress

Many people turn to coffee, drinking, or smoking to cope with stress, but these habits are ultimately unhelpful band-aids that cause more harm than good. Managing your stress is easier said than done, especially in the world we live in. However, making stress management a part of your daily routine can help you feel better and more energized in the long run.

Diet and exercise are generally recommended for helping manage stress. But what if you're already eating well and moving your body regularly? The Mayo Clinic suggests laughing. Laughter has a profound physical response on the body, firing up and cooling down its stress response. Playing an instrument or listening to your favorite music, making art, or practicing yoga are also helpful ways to alleviate stress and channel your emotions into something more productive.

Alternatively, you could try putting pen to paper. According to Purdue University, journaling is proven to help reduce stress and anxiety by allowing for an outward expression of a person's thoughts and emotions. If writing out your feelings isn't for you, you can create a bullet journal to help organize your schedule or create an art journal for a visual representation of your emotions.

Quit smoking

It's no secret that smoking is bad for you. In addition to increasing your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and lung disease, it can mess with your energy levels. Medical News Today explains that smoking causes your heart and lungs to work harder by decreasing blood oxygen levels, contributing to feelings of tiredness and fatigue. However, like alcohol, smoking is a habit that many people turn to help them relax or cope with stress. It can also be incredibly difficult to break free from.

According to Totally Health, quitting smoking gives you more energy by increasing the oxygen in your blood levels and expanding your blood vessels, which helps blood flow more easily throughout your body. This combination drastically helps reduce the feeling of tiredness in as little as two to 12 weeks. Overall blood circulation also improves and makes physical activity easier, allowing you to build up an exercise routine.

Take adaptogenic herbs

Adaptogenic herbs, or herbal pharmaceuticals, are non-toxic plants, mushrooms, and roots that can be added to food as a supplement or tincture to help balance energy levels. When ingested, these herbs target specific stressors in your body. Some studies suggest that taking adaptogenic herbs has anti-depressive effects and anti-fatigue properties and can counteract the effects of stress (via Healthline). They are also thought to increase attention and mental work capacity.

There are a number of adaptogenic herbs, each with different supportive effects. According to the Cleveland Clinic, adaptogens like American ginseng and Asian ginseng are used to support the nervous system and offer relief from physical and mental fatigue. Ashwagandha is another popular adaptogenic herb that has a positive effect on the nervous, immune, cardiovascular, and endocrine systems. The result can be metabolism regulation and feelings of calm, which can help with stress management.

It is important to note that while taking adaptogenic herbs can be a helpful short-term solution for fatigue or stress, they won't cure it. They are also not regulated by the FDA. Always discuss your supplement routine with your healthcare provider.

Stay hydrated

If you dread afternoons at work because of how tired you feel, you may not be drinking enough water. You're probably already familiar with the eight glasses per day rule, and while this is a good guideline, your body may actually need more or less depending on a number of factors. Illness, medical conditions, sweating, and engaging in intense exercise can all affect your hydration levels. Being dehydrated also affects your mood, energy levels, and clarity. "Your cells need adequate hydration to optimize the production of energy from food," Dr. Barry Sears tells NBC News. "If you don't have adequate hydration in the cells, your ability to produce energy (such as ATP) is reduced and you feel fatigued."

According to Forbes, being more alert is only one of the benefits of proper hydration. Getting the right amount of water your body needs can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, help your kidneys remove waste from the blood, and lubricate your joints. It is also vital for brain health, with only mild dehydration causing a breakdown in your ability to focus.

Next time you're thinking of hitting up the break room coffee pot for a mid-afternoon cup of joe, consider reaching for water instead. If you're not a big water drinker, you can stay hydrated by eating foods with high water content such as watermelon, cucumber, and berries. Water is also present in other beverages, such as milk, tea, and juice. However, be mindful of consuming these beverages because they may contain sugar and calories that water doesn't.

Consider taking vitamin D

Worldwide, more than 1 billion people have a vitamin D deficiency. In the United States, four out of 10 adults are likely to have a deficiency in this fat-soluble vitamin, per UnityPoint Health. But why does this matter? Vitamin D is crucial for healthy bones and teeth, controlling infections, and reducing inflammation. A number of symptoms may point to a deficiency, including muscle pain, anxiety, irritability, low energy, fatigue, or tiredness.

Natural sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, egg yolks, mushrooms, milk, and cheese. The sun is also a great source of Vitamin D, but depending on where you live, going outside may not be enough. "People in the Midwest may not be able to get enough vitamin D from sunlight alone," Dr. Molly Ropte tells UnityPoint Health. "It breaks down very rapidly, so in colder months, when we don't see the sun frequently, we likely don't get enough natural vitamin D production."

After introducing vitamin D into your body, either through certain foods or through sun exposure, it doesn't take long to see an improvement in energy levels. Live Science notes that in a 2016 double-blind trial, participants who were given vitamin D supplements saw improvements in their energy levels in only four weeks.

Try herbal tea

If you're itching to start your day with a hot beverage but don't want to drink coffee, herbal tea can provide the caffeine boost you crave albeit in a smaller amount. According to Camille Styles, the best herbal teas for energy include green tea, white tea, black tea, matcha, yerba mate, and chai. Green tea contains between 25 and 75 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce serving, whereas black tea contains around 47 milligrams per serving.

Drinking chai tea is a good way to transition from coffee to herbal tea. Chai by itself is a black tea with a mixture of spices including cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamom, and black peppercorns, per Teatulia. The caffeine in chai interacts with the black tea's tannins, which help calm the nervous system. This helps your body absorb and process the caffeine more slowly than with coffee, creating a calmer, more focused state. Alternatively, you can add milk or a dairy milk alternative to chai tea to create a sweet, spicy, and milky beverage that is a perfect treat for cold winter mornings.

Start your morning with meditation

A morning cup of coffee or energy drink are temporary solutions to tackle tiredness, but they lead to exhausting crashes later in the day. Instead, consider using the same amount of time you would normally spend waiting in line at Starbucks to practice daily meditation.

Meditation provides an instant mood boost in addition to lowering anxiety, reducing stress, and ultimately improving focus and productivity. According to the EOC Institute, meditation is the best way to calm the mind, increase focus, and increase energy levels throughout the day. It also increases melatonin, a naturally occurring sleep compound, by 98%, which means you'll sleep better at night. Most importantly, meditation helps you practice mindfulness. Mindful.org explains that mindfulness meditation is about suspending judgment about ourselves and our thoughts and approaching our experiences with kindness. Just five minutes a day is enough to see improvements.

Spend time outdoors

Carving out time each day to spend outdoors is a boon to your overall well-being. "The physiological response to being outside in nature is real, and it's measurable," USDA research social scientist Michelle Kondo explains. "There are many physical and psychological benefits of nature that scientists have observed, which can better help us understand how nature supports wellness in the body, mind, and community." 

Not only does being outside support physical wellness, but it also helps increase focus and mental clarity. Experiencing the outdoors reduces blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension while supporting emotional regulation and soothing pain (via the University of Minnesota). Ultimately, it makes you feel calmer and more balanced. According to a 2019 Scientific Reports study, spending a minimum of 120 minutes per week in nature is all it takes to start seeing results.

"Wellness is holistic," Kondo notes, "in that it is comprised of physical and mental health as well as the health of our communities. All of these benefits add up and reduce the adverse impacts on our bodies, and have restorative characteristics" (via the USDA). 

With these 15 methods in mind, why not try to ween off of your morning cup o' joe some?