Afternoon slump can strike at any time. One minute you are working and the next you are fighting the urge to lie down due to exhaustion.
If the afternoons are a daily struggle, you are not alone. Our attention span naturally declines in the afternoon because our body has an internal warning system – what scientists call the circadian warning system – that gets stronger and weaker throughout the day.
“The drowsiness that people often experience in the middle of the afternoon, and usually attributed to a heavy lunch or a boring meeting, is usually the result of a brief lull in the strength of the warning signal,” explains the Harvard Healthy Sleep site. “As the sleep drive continues to climb, there is an hour or two every afternoon when the warning signal fails to keep pace, and alertness suffers. “
When that afternoon crunch hits you can either continue to get over your fatigue or take a step back and try some of these proven tips that can give you the energy boost you need to get through the rest of your life. the working day.
1. Drink water.
If in doubt as to why you are so tired and your head is pounding, try drinking more water. Dehydration makes us tired, and people at work often forget to hydrate when they sit or watch screens all day.
According to research, even mild levels of dehydration – a loss of 1% to 2% body water – can impair cognitive performance and cause poor concentration and short-term memory problems, as well as mood swings. and anxiety, according to research. So drink!
2. Turn on the lights or go outside.
If you feel lethargic after lunchtime, it can help to expose your body to more light. If going out isn’t an option, turn on the lights where you’re working. Research has shown that more intense light can improve feelings of alertness and vitality.
But go outside if you can. Paul Glovinsky, clinical director of St. Peter’s Sleep Center in Albany, New York, and author of “You Are Getting Sleepy: Lifestyle-Based Solutions for Insomnia,” said the light outside is much more powerful than what you get at inside.
“In lux, a unit of illumination, residential lighting is typically less than 500 lux and office lighting is around 1,000 lux, while direct sunlight can reach 100,000 lux,” he said. . “Our circadian rhythms are best trained by this strong outside light, but many of us are hardly outside during the day.”
3. Take a nap.
Instead of resisting fatigue, take some time to rest so you can end your day strong. Just make sure you time it well and don’t do it for more than an hour unless you’re okay with staying up later.
“Some do well with a 20-minute nap, others with 30 or 45 minutes,” Glovinsky said. “I would avoid a nap of an hour or more, unless you live in a nap culture where stores reopen, dinner is late, etc., as long naps will cause time to drift. sleep later. “
4. Talk to someone.
Angela Karachristos, a career coach who previously worked in human resources, said her afternoon crunch comes at exactly 2 p.m. every day.
“Sometimes I try to connect with a friend or colleague or I try to schedule meetings during this time so that I am engaged in a conversation,” Karachristos said. “One of my time management strategies is to do all the work that I need to do independently in the morning. I am awake and super motivated once my coffee starts. If I have back-to-back meetings in the afternoon, I’m still engaged and working, but it doesn’t require the laser focus that I needed in the morning. “
5. Eat a fun and motivating snack.
If you need a pick-me-up, eat a snack. What we eat and drink can make a big difference to problem solving, attention span, and memory. Brain foods like broccoli, grains, lentils, and eggs, for example, can help boost focus when you need it most.
And you can think of the break you will take to eat your snack as something to look forward to.
“Another way to go wrong is to have treats that I save for downtime. So instead of having coffee at my favorite spot in the morning, I’m going to save it for downtime as a pick-me-up, ”Karachristos said. “Or, if I have a special treat like leftover dessert, I’ll save it for the afternoon break.”
6. Think about the activity that nourishes you and take the time for it.
By the time the afternoon arrives, you may be mentally and physically exhausted and feel like you have to keep working nonstop to finish. But counterintuitively, the promise of a fun activity can motivate you to get through each day.
That’s why Adjoa Osei, a licensed clinical psychologist, recommends thinking about and practicing activities that nourish and refresh you. The answers may vary depending on your personal needs and your personality.
“For some people, it can be movement, like taking a walk, taking a break from dancing to music, stretching or looking at pleasant photos,” Osei said. “For other people, it may take a while to calm down, such as focusing on their breathing or meditating.”