You’ve been back from lunch and at your desk for an hour or so now, and you can feel the sluggishness creeping in. It can only be one thing: that dreaded afternoon slump. You’re not the only one who experiences that lull—it’s biological, and it happens to everyone about seven to nine hours after waking up. “Your internal clock sends signals that are similar to those it transmits at bedtime,” explains Michael Grandner, PhD, MTR, a Fitbit sleep expert and director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. “Most notably, your core body temperature dips, which the brain seems to read as a signal to conserve energy and prepare for rest and sleep.”
If you’re like most workers, indulging in a 2:00pm nap is not an option. But with the right modifications and mindset, you can shake the fog from your head—and avoid the afternoon slump altogether. Here’s how:
How to Get Through It
Sip wisely. If you think an afternoon coffee or energy drink is the only way to get you through the rest of the day, you might be sorry later. It may wake you up and keep you up—drinking caffeine six hours or more before bedtime can affect your sleep. Stick to lightly caffeinated tea or a chilled, sparkling water to give you a burst of energy.
Walk it out. Step outside and get the blood flowing to recharge for the rest of the day. According to research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, walking not only wakes you up, it can boost creative thinking. You’ll feel recharged when you get back to your desk and end the workday on a high note.
Have a healthy snack. That donut in the conference room might seem appealing, but the fat it contains may end up making you even sleepier, according to a report from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine that looked at how diet affects alertness. A better choice? An apple, which has healthy carbs and natural sugar to power you through the end of your work day.
How to Prevent It
Eat smart. Avoid the inevitable food coma that comes with a heavy lunch by making smarter choices. Instead of a heavy burrito or greasy slice of pizza, opt for a salad with grilled chicken or a turkey sandwich on whole wheat. You’ll be full and satisfied without feeling bloated or tired after. (Bonus! Filling your plate with low-calorie, high-fiber foods, like veggies, fruit, and whole grains, and lean protein, like fish, eggs, nuts, and legumes, can also help you maintain a healthy weight.)
Sweat it out. Allotting time for a workout is key to staying energized throughout the day. Whether it’s a morning sweat sesh, a lunchtime trip to the gym, or a run after work, moving gives you the energy you need to be on your A-game throughout the day. Plus, you’ll sleep better at night and be well-rested the next day.
Get enough sleep. Sleep is crucial when it comes to staying alert. Getting to bed at a consistent hour every single night can help. “If you set a regular bedtime, you may begin to notice you have better energy and more focus throughout the day,” says Grandner. Need a reminder to get ready for bed? You can set a sleep goal and a target sleep schedule in your Fitbit app to receive wind-down and wake-up alerts.
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This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.