How to beat the afternoon slump

by Marion Piper on Tuesday 21 June 2022

3 min read

It’s 2pm. Your workmate next to you yawns. Then you yawn. All of a sudden you’re both feeling sleepy and you don’t know why.

The afternoon slump is real – but before you reach for that third coffee, here are a few things you need to know to fight off the fatigue.  

Feel the rhythm

Circadian rhythms may in fact be responsible for your midafternoon fatigue. These rhythms run on a 24-hour cycle and it’s your body’s way of telling you when to eat, drink, sleep and be active. Light plays a big role in determining your rhythm because it triggers the chemicals in your body needed to wake you up, or help you fall asleep, so make sure your workspace is amply lit.  

Listen to your body

You might find yourself asking, “why am I always hungry at 3pm?” or believe it’s normal to crave a sweet treat in the afternoon. What your body is actually telling you is that it’s hungry or thirsty. Let’s be honest, the time between lunch and dinner can feel like an eternity, so it makes sense that you need a bit of extra fuel to get through the last few hours of the workday.  

Which brings us to the next point...    

Have healthy snacks on hand

Instead of reaching for a coffee or muffin at 3pm, keep some almonds or other high-protein snacks on hand. It’s the fat in nuts or cheese that your body is craving and what will keep you full until dinnertime. 

Drink a glass of water

If you feel the afternoon slump coming on, drink a glass of water. We often confuse hunger with dehydration; so before you grab a handful of sugary treats, sip on some water. Your body may just reward you with some energy! 

Sweat it out!

A lunchtime workout is a great way to shake out any sleepiness. Hightail it to your local Virgin Active for hundreds of classes to choose from. Even some mild stretching or a walk around the block can do wonders to perk you up! 

Don’t skip breakfast

Missing out on breakfast can leave you feeling tired before you even start work, plus it tends to make you snack more during the day. Take the time each morning to get a well-rounded breakfast – it fuels your body and sets you up for the day (especially on those cold winter mornings). 

Get around 7-9hrs of sleep

We’re often told about the importance of sleep for mental health . Did you know our hormones decrease in the afternoon – thanks again to our friend the circadian rhythm – so if we’re already feeling tired, the afternoon slump can feel even worse. 7-9 hours of sleep each day is recommended, so if you’re getting a lot less (or a lot more) it might be time to adjust your alarm clock.  

At the end of the day, the best thing you can do is to listen to your body’s warning signals. Feeling sleepy in the afternoon is one of them, so take a moment to figure out what it is you need – your body will thank you for it.

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