We’ve all had to deal with it. You arrive at work bright and cheery, skip to your desk, and start working. A few hours in though, your eyelids grow heavy, your shoulders start to sag, and your head dips ever closer to the desk, which, at this point, you’re positive would make a fantastic pillow. No matter what you do, you always feel tired in the middle of the afternoon.
The dreaded afternoon slump has come upon you, and you struggle to just stay awake while you try to continue about your job. While there are a few last minute things you can do to wake yourself back up, your best bet is to prepare in advance so you can avoid the slump entirely. Like mother said, prevention is the best medicine.
So what are some ways to prevent midafternoon drowsiness?
Watch What You’re Eating
The foods that you’re putting into your body can have a major effect on your energy levels. Your body is a machine after all, and you can’t expect it to run smoothly if you’re attempting to fuel it with junk. Make sure your breakfast doesn’t consist of things like sugary cereals, doughnuts, or a Javabucks Double Mocha Cappuccino with a Vanilla Crème Coating. All that sugar will give you an immediate burst of energy, but it’s sure to cause a huge crash a few hours down the line.
If you’re the type of person who enjoys snacking throughout the day (and who among us isn’t), make sure you’re eating the appropriate snacks. Foods that are full of empty calories such as chips and cookies won’t provide you with any energy (and are sure to pack on the pounds). Opt for healthier options like baby carrots, celery sticks, or a sliced bell pepper. Fruits such as oranges, apples, or pears will also provide you with some natural sugar for a quick pick-me-up, but without a crash in the future. When in doubt, it’s best to get energy from eating healthy foods if you want to avoid being really tired in the afternoon.
Get Some Movement In
While we aren’t suggesting that you start making plans to enter a marathon or a strongman competition, a bit of regular exercise will do wonders for preventing mid-afternoon lags. Some light aerobics before you head to work will keep your body warmed up and your mind sharp throughout the day.
If you can’t squeeze a workout into your schedule though, there’s no reason to worry. Once you feel your eyelids starting to droop, find a way to get yourself on the move. Stand up and take a quick walk around the office, do some stretches in the bathroom (keeping all hands off the floor), or crank out a few pushups while ignoring the odd looks from your coworkers. The movements will get your blood pumping and help wake you up. If you can take a quick walk outside, the natural blue light will give your body a swift jolt of energy that can help push you through the rest of the day without having to rely on caffeine or sugar.
Make Sure You’re Getting Rest
If you only managed a few hours of sleep, then that drowsiness you feel during the middle of the day is going to be a lot worse. However, ensuring that you get enough rest will help you fight off even the worst slump. So see if you can squeeze in some extra shuteye by preparing for your day in advance so you can set your alarm later. Lay your day’s clothes out before you hit the hay, eat a breakfast with less preparation (or make it in advance), shower the night before, whatever you do in the morning that you can do just as well the night before.
Don’t just wait to start falling asleep either. Turn off that television, put the laptop away, dim the lights, and nestle in bed for a little light reading. Without the constant distractions from the TV and the computer, you’ll be able to feel more relaxed, allowing you to fall asleep easier.
If you’re looking for an immediate cure, and you have an hour break for lunch, see if you can convert half of it into a quick catnap. Bring a pillow in your car, turn the underside of your desk into a bedroom, or pack a pair of PJs to help you catch a few Zs. You’ll be sure to feel refreshed enough to tackle the rest of the workday!
If you are always feeling tired in the afternoon, it’s best to attack your problem with natural solutions versus relying on caffeine and sugar. It’s much better to get to the root of the problem than looking for a quick fix. Eat better, get some movement into your day, and sleep better if you want to feel fully energized all day.