Is the afternoon energy slump hitting you hard? If you’re frequently crawling to the commissary to grab another cup of coffee just to make it through to quitting time, you may be feeling its effects.
You could be hammering away at your keyboard, checking off your to-do list like a champ and feeling all sorts of awesome in the morning, only to hit a metaphorical wall a couple of hours after your lunch break. You feel listless, sleepy, or uninspired. Welcome to the afternoon energy slump.
Don’t let this dip in energy levels affect your focus and productivity. Here are some tips to help you stay consistently on point throughout the day.
What Is An Afternoon Energy Slump?
An afternoon slump is the onset of sleepiness, sudden tiredness, and/or an inability to concentrate or focus and stay alert at some point in the afternoon.1
This state of mental and physical sluggishness may be caused by any number of factors. Read on to learn more about the most common causes, and how to address each by tweaking or introducing new habits or mindsets.
Slump Solution: Beat The Body Clock And Get An Energy Boost
If you’re feeling a post-lunch snooze coming on anytime between 2-4 PM, it could just be your body’s natural clock telling you to take a nap. At this time, your body’s core temperature drops slightly and releases melatonin, the hormone associated with aiding sleep.2
You might be able to circumvent the natural effects of your circadian rhythms by adopting these quick habits:
- Time your afternoon walk during your afternoon slump. Consider taking a trip out into the sunshine during your lunch hour, before your afternoon energy slump hits. Not only will getting some sun exposure increase your Vitamin D intake, it might also help reduce the melatonin that’s causing the dip in your energy level.3 Imagine you’re solar-powered, and you’re getting a quick energy boost.
- Indulge in some dark chocolate. A small amount of dark chocolate is a good pick-me-up, as it contains a decent dose of caffeine and other health benefits as well — much better than grabbing a full cup of coffee that could irritate your digestive system.4
- Sip on some green tea. Sipping green tea will give you a small hit of caffeine. Green tea also contains phytochemicals that may energize you without sacrificing a good night’s sleep.5
Slump Solution: Fuel Up The Right Way And Snack Right
You may feel a big lunch keeps you revved up and fueled for a long day, but the quality of that lunch could mean the difference between staying amped or crashing and burning.
If your lunch is full of refined sugar and carbohydrates, you could be facing a huge spike in your blood sugar levels after you eat. That may help you feel full and energized for a short period of time, but it could lead to a big crash that’ll have you stealing a nap at your desk later on.6
Don’t eat yourself to sleep by 3 PM. Try these ideas for building a smart eating plan that will keep you energized throughout the entire day.
- Pack a powered-up desk lunch. Center your lunch meal around a portion of good protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. This formula may offer your body a more sustained release of energy (no crashes) and you may feel fuller for longer.7
Some ideas include: sandwiches made with whole-grain breads, lean protein with vegetables and/or rice and wraps or burritos made with meat, beans, and sweet potatoes.
- Snack on stuff that won’t make you fall asleep. Skip the quick hits of sugar that offer a low shelf-life, energy-wise. Pack chopped fruit, crudites and hummus, string cheese, and peanut butter on whole-grain breads for afternoon snacking. If you absolutely must have another cup of coffee, try using almond or oat milk instead.8
Slump Solution: Give In And Get Some Sleep
If you aren’t getting enough shut-eye when you should be, it can contribute to fatigue during the day. Not only that, chronic lack of proper sleep is linked to a host of health problems. Trying band-aid solutions, like ingesting even more caffeine, can only impair your body’s ability to regain consistent good night’s sleep.9
- Sleep for 20 minutes. Studies show this is the ideal length of time to nap; any longer might impair your focus and concentration upon waking.10
Now, this only works if you’re employed by a nap-friendly workplace. Some companies have realized the value of sleep and allow workers to hit a quick snooze, but it’s best to review your company policy before trying this. But if you work from home or otherwise have flexibility with your daily schedule, take a 20-minute nap when you feel it’s necessary.
- Work on your sleep hygiene long-term. Work on getting on a proper sleep schedule in place. Try to sleep and wake up at the same time daily (yes, even on weekends). Eliminate causes or triggers of poor sleep like excess caffeine or too many distractions before bed. And be sure to get exercise when you can.11
Other Tips To Beat The Afternoon Energy Slump
Regardless of the reason why you’re feeling sluggish mid-afternoon, here are some simple tips you can try to help regain your alertness and verve.
- Do some desk stretches, or get up and walk around. Sitting still for too long can contribute to sleepiness. Skip the email or office chat system and walk over to your co-worker’s desk for some face time. Practice some simple stretching exercises that might help revitalize your body.
- Don’t skip breakfast. Similar to stocking up on quality carbs and good fat at lunch, make sure you load up on energy-giving nutrients at breakfast time.
- Stay hydrated. Studies show dehydration may lead to sleepiness. Have a bottle of water by your side as you work, and keep chugging throughout the day. Bonus: The bathroom breaks will keep you awake and moving, too.12,13,14
Get Energized Naturally To Help Fight The Afternoon Slump
By simply eating right, staying hydrated, moving enough, and getting enough sleep at night, you might be able to beat the energy slump that’s ruining your work mojo. Try these easy tips today, and you could totally make Employee of the Month — or at least be the ray of sunshine your office needs.
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