So many of us are all too familiar with the afternoon slump! That feeling when your concentration starts fading, your eyes feel heavy and motivation starts to wane!
So what do we do? We reach for a coffee or sugary snack to try and get us through the next few hours before we can end our day and relax!
Our circadian rhythm is our body’s internal biological clock which dictates our sleep-wake cycle. Although we may think our circadian rhythm only kicks in after the sun goes down, it can also occur naturally in the afternoon causing the afternoon slump! A drop in body temperature increases the sleep hormone, melatonin, which is the primary reason for this but factors such as working at a desk may also contribute as our body associates stillness with sleep.
TIPS FOR AVOIDING AFTERNOON SLUMP
Boost your energy levels! If you feel your energy levels dropping, try some of these tips to help you feel more energised and get you through that afternoon slump!
Head outside. Daylight and if possible a little sunlight, can brighten our mood, boosting our energy and productivity. Your senses will become sharper and more focused as a result and it will also help to reduce tension and boost your Vitamin D levels!
Take breaks and get moving! Taking regular breaks helps you to stay focused on your goals. Better still, taking a walk during your break, or doing some physical moves or stretches, will get your blood flowing and help to wake up your body and mind. Maybe set a timer to ensure that you take regular breaks during your working day!
Take a ‘power nap’ Taking a short power nap can help you to feel energised but be careful not to nap for too long as it can then have a counter effect! About 10-20 mins will help to reduce fatigue, sharpen your focus, decrease stress levels and improve your mood! Any more than the body may enter into a deep sleep which when waking, will make you feel sluggish and groggy!
Take a caffeine curfew after lunch! For those with caffeine sensitivity, drinking too much coffee during the day can have an impact on their sleep, leaving them tossing and turning at night! This can result in being even more tired the next day and escalate to sleep debt which in turn can cause a cycle of sleep deprivation and caffeine dependency! It can take up to 10 hours to completely clear caffeine from your bloodstream.
Keep hydrated. Being dehydrated can cause your body and mind to slow down and become less efficient! One of the most common signs of dehydration is fatigue. Our bodies need to be adequately hydrated to feel energised and function at their best!
Narrow the search for your next wellbeing initiative and discover the Wellbeing People approach to workplace wellbeing.
Go easy on the sugar and choose healthy snacks! Unfortunately, foods that are high in sugar or refined carbohydrates can actually end up making you feel even more sluggish! This is because eating sugar causes your blood sugar to rise rapidly which results in an instant energy boost. However, the body also produces insulin which helps to regulate the sugar in your blood causing a drop in energy about 30 minutes after consuming a sugary snack! To keep hunger at bay and provide a slower release of energy choose protein foods that take longer to digest like nuts, peanut butter, or cheese. Here’s some great energy boosting snack recipes
Interact with others. Having some social interaction can give your mind a rest from what you are doing by having to focus on someone else. It can also lighten your mood and help you to feel more energised!
Schedule low-stress work for early afternoon (where possible!) Scheduling lower capacity or less demanding work for the afternoon may help you to get through the afternoon energy dip! This will give you a chance to recharge and re-energise for a more productive afternoon’s work!
Get enough quality sleep (at the right time!) Unfortunately, poor sleep can have a profound effect on productivity. If you are already struggling with sleep deprivation, getting through the day can be a difficult task! For more information on how to get a better quality night’s sleep, take a look at our blog Are you getting enough quality sleep?
And last of all and probably the most important thing you can do for your overall health is
Regular Exercise! Exercising regularly will give you more energy everyday! Other than the physical benefits, it will help you to sleep better, stress less, feel mentally more alert, improve your mood and yes, feel more energised and motivated!
CONQUERING THE AFTERNOON SLUMP
Remember, everyone experiences some degree of afternoon fatigue, but with these tips, you can conquer the slump and keep your energy levels high. Incorporate these strategies into your daily routine and bid farewell to yawning afternoons.
Further reading and references