As 3pm rolls in, you suddenly feel absolutely exhausted, totally smashed. No matter how well you slept last night or what you ate for lunch, this afternoon slump seems to happen every day. The problem is that you need to remain productive, sharp, and focused for a few more hours – and yet, all you want to do is throw on your PJ’s and hop into bed! You change your schedules, go for a brisk run in the morning before work, and even try to get into bed a little earlier at night. Still, nothing seems to work.
It’s important to understand that it’s completely normal to feel super tired once the mid-afternoon sets in. Your body’s “circadian rhythm”, which affects your sleep patterns, is to blame for this. Your brain receives sleep signals through the night and, believe it or not, in the mid-afternoon, too! As strange as it sounds, the human body is actually programmed to take afternoon naps, thanks to its built-in clock. However, since you have work to do, you resort to drinking more coffee, eating more sugary snacks, and trying to march on.
By now, you’ve read and heard every clever suggestion: sleep more, sleep earlier, don’t skip breakfast, don’t skip lunch, splash cold water on your face, sip green tea, rearrange your desk, rearrange your meeting schedule, and so on. We wonder why all these clever life hacks just aren’t working. Although most of these suggestions are well-meaning, many are relatively ineffective. No quick fixes really work. There is the power nap, but for most office employees, that’s not an option. To truly beat your 3 pm slump, you need to incorporate ongoing and workable lifestyle changes into your sustainable healthy life plan.
The first step is to respect your biological clock. Although you expect to perform at your peak at all hours of the workday, that’s just unrealistic. Your well-defined internal clock – the circadian rhythm – shapes your energy levels throughout the day. This precise and regular system releases different hormones and enzymes, causing peaks of naturally high energy and troughs of low energy. Although it’s impossible to fight this innate natural rhythm, there are three simple strategies to help your brain and body flow through the afternoon dip without a crash.
- Get out of that chair!Get up from your desk every hour and stretch your muscles. Break up prolonged sitting times with short bursts of activity. Use the stairs whenever you get the chance and take brisk walks during your lunch breaks. Walking increases your blood circulation, metabolic rate, and fat-burning ability by more than a hundred percent. And taking the stairs increases them by over two hundred percent!Break up your day into 40 to 60-minute blocks of sitting and set an alarm to remind yourself to get up. Movement increases the flow of blood throughout your body and brain, sending the message to your sleep center that it’s now time to be active – not time to sleep! Standing more also increases your energy levels. You can go through your emails and complete routine tasks whilst standing or do what many others have done and switch to a standing desk.
- Turn that toxic tank into clean-burning fuel!Your body’s peak performance depends on the fuel you give it. Every one of the trillions of cells in your body and brain is a highly complex “engine” interfacing and communicating with trillions of other complex cell units. When you flood your body with refined and processed snacks from the vending machine – with their insane amounts of sugar and bad fats – your energy briefly soars before quickly seizing up and crashing.Your body and brain require a constant source of clean burning fuel to sustain energy. To get through that 3pm dip, feed yourself three small meals and two healthy snacks throughout the day. Include plenty of fresh vegetables, a moderate amount of fruits, healthy fats and protein, and limited complex, low-glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates. A great way to give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs is to make a quick and easy smoothie. You and your office colleagues can all enjoy nutrient-dense smoothies for breakfast, lunch, or snack with the nutribullet. Getting your fruits and veggies while at work has never been easier and it’ll help pull you out of your slump!
- Turbo-charge adrenalin – then switch it off.Although our ridiculously high levels of adrenalin throughout the day and night cause exhaustion and burnout, there’s actually no better way to recharge your energy than by temporarily pumping up your adrenalin levels. How does this work? When you exert yourself, you’re using up the adrenalin. The workout and post-exercise switch-off of adrenalin work together to facilitate energy recovery and renewal before you get back to your desk. Any type of exercise, whether it’s cardio, strength training, or flexibility, is beneficial. Use your lunch break to get to the gym, go for a run, or take a brisk walk. Although moderate-intensity training is good enough, in recent years, High-Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT) has been shown to significantly improve energy sustainability.
A sustainable life plan with these three core strategies, along with good hydration and minimal caffeine intake after midday, can help you ride your natural energy peaks and troughs and stay energized through the afternoon. So say goodbye to that 3pm slump and hello to a more productive day!