It’s just like clockwork. When 2PM rolls around, you’re struggling to keep your eyes open, your mood turns sour, and you have the irresistible craving to close your eyes, just for a minute. You muster every ounce of energy you have just to finish a simple email, and are desperately searching for something sweet in hopes of a little boost. The dreaded afternoon slump has hit.
The afternoon slump is a stranger to no one, yet few people know why it happens or how to prevent it. Here, we’ll explore the afternoon slump, why it happens, and some simple tips to help you avoid the post-lunch crash and maintain your energy all day long.
What Causes the Afternoon Slump?
When it comes to the dreaded afternoon slump, we’re often too quick to blame our sluggishness on the poor sleep we got the night before. While sleep definitely contributes to our energy and motivation throughout the day, it’s not the only thing that can make or break our afternoons. In reality, the afternoon slump can be caused by a range of factors, from what you had for lunch to your plain old biology. But if you’re regularly fighting the afternoon slump, it might be time to consider you’re making these common mistakes.
#1: You’re Indulging in Sweet Nothings
Does it seem like everyday is Donut Day at the office? Do you find yourself reaching for sweet treats instead of healthy snacks? Have you swapped your third cup of coffee for a mochaccino?
One of the most likely culprits for the afternoon slump is sugar. While sugary snacks might satisfy a craving or boost your mood for a moment, they plummet your energy in the long-run. Studies show that eating sugar and carbohydrates lead to increased fatigue and decreased alertness. In other words, a sugar crash.
Eating right at the office – or even when working from home or out running errands – can feel like an impossible challenge. This time of year is especially difficult, when the Halloween candy deviously appears and the holiday treats don’t stop for months. The trick is to make healthy swaps for sugary treats during the day and save your indulgences (in moderation!) for after dinner.
#2: You’re Eating Sleep-Inducing High-Carb Lunches
Just as sweet treats can send you into a sudden slump, so can refined carbohydrates. These carbs cause a sudden spike in blood sugar, and a drastic drop soon after. Not only does this rob you of any energy you had, but it can make you irritable, cranky, and stressed, too.
Avoid lunches that are heavy in white bread, white rice, pasta, potatoes, and chips to avoid this sleepy, sullen state. Instead, focus on protein, veggies, and complex carbs (like brown rice, quinoa, and whole-grain bread).
#3: You’re Not Moving Enough
Think of your body a bit like an automatic watch. It will stay fully charged and “on” as long as it gets a little movement regularly. Stop for too long, though, and everything comes to a halt.
If you’ve been sitting still for too long (a few hours or so), it’s likely to make you feel tired and lethargic. This is because your body is trained to associate stillness with sleep. After a few hours without moving, your brain gets the message that it’s time to rest, even if it’s only noon! To fight back, make sure you’re exercising daily and moving throughout the day. Get up at least once per hour to stretch or walk, get a glass of water, or spend a moment in the sunshine.
If pain has kept you from living a more active life, chiropractic care can help. From aches and pains to chronic, debilitating conditions, our AlignLife Chiropractors have solutions to help you live pain-free and regain your focus.
#4: It’s Just Your Circadian Rhythm
That sleepy 2-o’clock feeling isn’t just in your head, but it does stem from the brain.
Psychologists and researchers agree, the afternoon slump is built into our biology as part of a normal circadian rhythm and energy-preservation.
Many of us experience a drop in energy between 1PM and 4PM when our body temperature drops, melatonin is released, and the body prepares to recharge itself for the rest of the day. Subsequently, an afternoon nap starts to sound pretty good.
If your schedule doesn’t allow for a short snooze, fight the slump with some fun. Put on your favorite high-energy playlist, take a walk, or get some natural sunlight to remind your brain it’s not quite time for bed.
#5: You’re Low on the Right Fuel
Both your brain and body need proper fuel to stay active during the day. If you’re not getting the right nutrients (think fresh vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats), you’ll feel the need to compensate with less-than-ideal “energy-boosters” like caffeine, sugar, or energy drinks.
The afternoon slump is also associated with dehydration. Even being slightly dehydrated can make you feel tired, moody, and foggy-headed. This is easily prevented by keeping a bottle of fresh water with you throughout the day. Try adding lime or lemon juice for a natural afternoon buzz.
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6 Simple Tips to Reclaim Your Focus and Energy
Tip #1: Keep On Moving
To fight the slump, it’s important to make movement a regular part of your routine. In addition to exercising for 20-30 minutes each day, be sure to get up and move as the day goes on. Don’t sit at your desk for longer than an hour without a stretch break.
Tip #2: Make Healthy Snack and Lunch Swaps
When it comes to staying energized and focused all day long, what you eat has a huge impact. Eating sugary treats and refined carbohydrates is a sure-fire way to feel sluggish and moody after lunch. Chugging coffee or other caffeinated beverages might give you an edge, but they’re likely to make you feel even worse over time.
Instead, eat for energy. Fill up on vibrant fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and protein to stay satisfied, alert, and well-nourished. If you’re a sucker for sweets, pack your bag with your favorite go-to healthy snacks (like nuts or a banana) to avoid falling into temptation.
Tip #3: Drink an Extra Glass of Water in the Morning
Because dehydration can easily make us feel tired and moody, make it a habit to have an extra glass of water in the morning. Keep a bottle at your desk or with you on the go to stay hydrated throughout the day.
If you’re a chronic coffee drinker, consider swapping that extra cup with a glass of Aceva’s Absolute Greens. Aside from enjoying a delicious and invigorating treat, you’ll get the benefit of 50 superfoods that boost your energy naturally (not to mention an entire day’s recommended serving of vegetables).
Tip #4: Seek out the Sun
When you feel an afternoon slump coming on, find yourself some sunshine. Our brains associate sunlight with activity and wakefulness and spending time in the sun can help us regain our focus and stay alert. Studies suggest that people experience better moods and more energy after taking a walk outdoors, rather than indoors. If you can’t make it outside for a break, simply find a sunny window and enjoy a light stretch.
Tip #5: Prioritize Sleep
Poor sleep is the obvious culprit when it comes to the afternoon slump. Skipping hours, tossing and turning all night, or even sleeping too much can cause fatigue and moodiness during the day. Energetic, productive days start with restful nights. Establish a bedtime routine that works for you and stick to it! You can also check out this article for even tips on how to get a good night’s sleep!
Is “sleep” easier said than done? It might be time to contact your chiropractor. Having trouble sleeping is incredibly common, yet few people know how to get the help they need. Chiropractic care can help you identify the underlying factors and causes, while also setting your body up for quality rest.
In addition to regular adjustments, our chiropractors recommend Aceva’s Sweet Dream bundle to help you get the zzz’s you need. Included is Relax & Calm, a unique herbal remedy that calms the mind and relieves nighttime anxiety, and Triple Mag, a magnesium blend that ensures total body relaxation and sound sleep.
Tip #6: Try a Rescue Remedy
Sometimes, staying alert is as simple as having a quick fix that immediately refocuses your mind. Taking a moment to smell an invigorating essential oil (like peppermint, orange, or eucalyptus) can instantly give you a burst of energy. Other quick fixes like washing your face, brushing your teeth, or even doing a few minutes of tidying can help you push through when you’re on the verge of a slump.
Stop the Afternoon Slump and Live Vibrantly
The afternoon slump comes to us all at one point or another. And as we’ve seen, it’s not always such a bad thing. Taking time to rest in the middle of the day gives our bodies time to recharge and is even a normal aspect of our natural circadian rhythm.
But when afternoon slumps regularly rob you of a productive, active life, it’s time to make some changes. Contact your local AlignLife Chiropractor to find customized solutions to regain your energy and take back control of your day!