You’ve got a great morning routine. You feel alert in the morning while at school or work, and pat yourself on the back for packing a homemade, healthy lunch. But post-lunch, nothing sounds better than lying down on the reception sofa and taking a nap. Sound familiar?
There’s a reason for this “afternoon slump:” Our bodies experience a circadian rhythm, which controls your alertness and tiredness throughout the day. In the same way this rhythm makes you tired at night, it may also make you sleepy in the afternoon, especially between 1 to 4 p.m.
In this blog, we’ll share 5 ways you can avoid the afternoon slump so you can prevent yourself from feeling tired in the afternoon, and perform at your best each day.
Don’t skip breakfast
It’s a cliche for a reason: breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. If you skip breakfast, you’re missing out on the nutrients you need to function, even if you might feel fine in the morning. This might cause overeating at lunch, which will then keep your body in digest mode vs. supporting your mental concentration in the afternoon.
Consume whole foods, quality protein and nourishing fats at breakfast and lunch to conserve insulin. High-carb foods like cereals and pastries are likely to cause a spike in blood sugar, which triggers the release of insulin into your bloodstream. Your blood sugar then plummets, resulting in the decrease in energy and/or hunger pangs later in the day.
Stress can leave our bodies high in the hormone cortisol and feeling low in energy. It can also make us more susceptible to illness and injury, which we don’t need! Be sure to practice mindfulness, spend time with loved ones and pets, and do activities that make you feel nourished.
Research shows adults with lower stress levels can sleep more at night than those with higher stress levels, which will help you feel less tired during the day.
Take a body break
If you start feeling drowsy, get up and take a quick walk outside. Low energy or fatigue is also a sign of vitamin D deficiency, so even 10 minutes outdoors can give us a pick-me-up and do wonders for vitamin D production. Sunlight boosts our level of serotonin—a neurotransmitter produced in your brain and gut that helps you to feel good—which can give us energy, a sense of calmness and positivity, and focus. Eating lunch outside or going for walking meetings is a great way to get some exercise and time outdoors.
Even a short walk down an office hallway to visit a colleague can boost your energy. A body break raises our serotonin levels and can also stabilize your blood sugars.
Short periods of physical activity vs. having more caffeine in the afternoon are more effective in boosting your energy level, especially if you’re not getting enough sleep. If you can’t escape from your desk, stretching can help keep your blood flowing and give you a bit of energy. Some examples of stretches at your desk include making circles with your arms, pumping your foot, rotating your neck, and twisting your spine. Search YouTube and you’ll find more exercises you can do at your desk.
Even better, use a standing desk if you can!
Have healthy snacks and water
Be sure to stay hydrated throughout the day. When we’re dehydrated, our body loses fluids and electrolytes faster than we can replenish them, and our body’s cells can shrink—including our brain cells. This can cause tiredness, headaches, lack of focus, and poor short-term memory. In short, we need water to function!
Resist the temptation to snack on junk food. If you start to feel snack-y midday, consume energy-boosting alternatives like veggies and nuts instead of sugary candy bars.
Get good zzz’s
Sleep deprivation will worsen the afternoon slump, so try to get enough sleep each night. A good amount of sleep combats stress and a good evening routine can also help with this.
If you’re working toward those 8 hours, have a short (up to 30-minute) power nap in the early afternoon. Don’t nap too late in the day or for too long, as you’ll want to be getting your sleep from dusk to dawn.
We hope to see you bright-eyed and alert at the 3 p.m. mark!