How to Fight the Afternoon Slump

How to Fight the Afternoon Slump

We’ve all been there: it’s 3 pm, and you’re sitting at your desk when you start feeling a sleepy haze washing over you. After letting out a few discreet yawns, you nod off for a second and jolt back awake. You force your eyes wider, but alas, your attempts at staying alert fail and you continue the exasperating cycle of nodding off and waking up. The dreaded afternoon slump has caught up with you again.

The afternoon slump is a natural part of the circadian cycle, so don’t get too upset that it’s affecting you. That dip in energy typically occurs eight hours after you wake up, but there are ways to combat it and stay productive.

Now what can you do? Well, let’s start with prevention.

How do you prevent the afternoon slump?

fight the afternoon slump

During your lunch break, reserve 10 minutes to walk outside.

The sunlight affects how much melatonin (sleep hormone) your body produces, so make sure to spend some time outside to counter the sleepiness. Another option is eating your lunch outdoors—just make sure to apply sunblock!

Avoid overloading on simple carbohydrates during lunch.

Found in food like white rice, chips, and regular pasta, simple carbs spike up your blood sugar and make you crash soon after. Focus on eating food with complex carbs instead, like whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, broccoli, mushrooms, and cauliflower. Along with keeping you at a steady energy level, they also boost your brain function and regulate digestion.

Drink a cup of green tea once you finish lunch.

Green tea contains just enough caffeine to boost your energy, but it won’t leave you crashing after a couple hours like coffee might. It also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that teams up with caffeine to improve brain function.

Begin the habit of exercising for at least 30 minutes a day.

Researchers at University of George found that exercising was more effective in reducing daytime fatigue than some medications used to treat sleep problems.

Stay hydrated.

Drinking water seems to be the cure for everything, but it really does make an impact on your energy level. Dehydration causes sluggishness, so make sure to drink your recommended amount of water every day.

What if you’re currently facing that afternoon slump?

yoga for daytime drowsiness

Get moving.

Your body associates sitting still with going to sleep, so fight it by getting active. You can stretch, take a walk, or do a few simple exercises. Another option to try out is a desk bike pedal exerciser, so you can keep your legs moving even as you sit.

Here at Coop, we’ve recently started fitting in a mini workout around 3 pm for the whole office. We’ve definitely seen a difference in our energy levels! There are plenty of office exercise videos floating around Youtube that you and your coworkers can try together.

Try a deep breathing exercise.

This one-minute breathing exercise by yoga therapist Felice Rhiannon helps regulate oxygen flow in your blood, which makes you more alert.

  • Inhale to the count of two
  • Exhale to the count of two
  • Inhale to the count of two
  • Exhale to the count of three
  • Inhale to the count of two
  • Exhale to the count of four
  • Inhale to the count of two
  • Exhale to the count of five

Repeat several times and return to your normal breathing.

Organize your desk or do some filing.

These tasks don’t take much mental power, but they’ll get you moving and more productive. That beats sleepily swaying in your seat, right?

Chew an extra minty gum.

Pop in that Doublemint! Both the act of chewing and the strong taste of mint gum can actually make you feel more alert.

Listen to upbeat music.

Music easily changes your mood, and researchers have discovered many benefits from listening to music. In a study by Dr. Teresa Lesiuk, an assistant professor in the music therapy program at the University of Miami, she found that employees who listened to music completed their tasks more quickly and came up with better ideas than those who didn’t.

Start a conversation.

Get up and chat with your coworker down the hall, or call a loved one. It’ll perk up your mood and get your brain pumping again.

Take a nap.

While this option isn’t viable for everyone, taking a nap is the most obvious fix for the afternoon slump. Snooze away for 10-20 minutes to regain your vigor.

What if I’m always tired?

cop home goods nap pillow

If you feel constantly sleepy throughout the day, we recommend taking a trip to the doctor’s office. Conditions like narcolepsy, excessive daytime sleepiness, or obstructive sleep apnea could be the culprit and should be treated.