Do you jump out of bed in the morning raring to go, but run out of energy after lunch? You might be surprised to learn that there is a physical cause for those afternoon doldrums — what we call the midday slump — but you can work around them.
The reason most of us tend to feel a little sleepy around two or three in the afternoon is due to a dip in our body’s core temperature. It’s similar to what you experience before you go to bed at night.
Still, you can reset your inner clock to keep up with your 24/7 schedule or at least an 8 hour work day. Try these quick fixes and preventive measures.
Quick Fixes to Fight Midday Slump
- Switch tasks. Approach your workday like a buffet. When you’re all filled up on spreadsheets, try screening resumes or returning phone calls for a while.
- Turn up the lights. Exposure to light creates instant alertness. Your brain is wired to wake up when the sun rises, and artificial light has similar effects. Get a table lamp for your office desk or sit by a window.
- Splash around. A little cold water on your face is also refreshing. If you’re concerned about your makeup, place your wrists under a running faucet or dampen a towel and wrap it around your neck.
- Take a drink. Dehydration can intensify fatigue. Take a big drink of water or herbal tea.
- Have a balanced snack. What you eat and when you eat it can stabilize your blood sugar or send it spiraling. Cut down on refined sugar and white flour. Consume smaller meals with nutritious snacks in between. Good choices include nuts and seeds with cut vegetables.
- Listen to music. When you’re shuffling around, a lively soundtrack will make you feel like dancing. Play your favorite tunes whether they’re jazz or country.
- Nap briefly. If your schedule permits, a short nap can supplement the sleep you might have missed last night. Limit your snoozing to 20 minutes or less so it won’t interfere with your bedtime.
- Take a walk. Moving around is one of the most effective antidotes. Head outdoors for a 10 minute stroll around the neighborhood. If you’re stuck indoors, stand up and stretch.
Preventive Measures to Avoid Midday Slump
- Sleep well. Figure out how many hours of sleep you need a night and what you can do to enhance the quality of your sleep. You may need to darken your bedroom or block out background noise.
- Manage stress. Chronic stress may be depleting your resources. Take a warm bath or find a relaxing hobby like needlework. Meditation eases tension and encourages mindfulness.
- Exercise regularly. Daily exercise keeps your body and mind in top condition. Play tennis or sign up for a Tai Chi class.
- Eat breakfast. Fuel up in the morning. Leftovers can be just as satisfying as cereal. Whip up a smoothie you can drink during your commute if you’re pressed for time.
- Plan your day. You probably have certain hours of the day when you operate at peak efficiency. Tackle your most intensive tasks when you can focus more clearly.
- See your doctor. If you need more help, talk with your physician. Simple tests can rule out any underlying medical issues associated with chronic fatigue or help you benefit from prompt treatment.
Make your afternoons more productive by boosting your energy levels. Ride out the occasional lulls and take care of your health. Soon you’ll be able to focus on your work instead of fighting fatigue.