Do you get the afternoon slump? It usually hits at about 2:30pm. Your eyes get very heavy, your concentration goes out the window and all you can think about is taking a snooze.
Don’t worry – you’re not alone.
In fact, the afternoon slump results in billions of dollars in lost productivity every year. And it makes each and every one of us a far less productive person. It’s about time we found out why the afternoon slump is so pervasive – and how we can combat it.
Why the Afternoon Slump?
If you feel a dip in energy in the mid-afternoon it’s actually a sign that your body is operating as it was designed. Our internal body clocks are programmed that way. Located in the hypothalamus, the body cock works in conjunction with our sleep drive, to produce a drowsy effect between around 2 and 4 pm. That’s why many cultures around the world include a siesta in the mid-afternoon.
Working in tandem with the body clock’s rhythm, is our body temperature, which, interestingly enough, is also controlled by the hypothalamus. Our internal body temperature increases as the morning progresses. At lunchtime it reaches it’s peak. Then, in the early afternoon, it subsides. This lowered body temperature leads to lower energy and increased tiredness.
Beating the Afternoon Slump
In order to overcome their afternoon slump, many people reach for not so smart solutions – like caffeine-laden soft drinks. There are smarter alternatives. Here are 6 ways to beat the afternoon slump while avoiding excess calories.
(1) Exercise – Studies have shown that exercising your way through the afternoon is a great way to both overcome tiredness and make the most productivity out of what could otherwise be dead time. (1)
(2) Stretch – No time for a full on workout? No worries. Just get away from your desk and start stretching. Stretching is a great way to give yourself an energy boost. 6 -8 static stretches that are held for a count of 15 seconds will do the job nicely.
(3) Change the scenery – Just finding a different environment to do your work in can be enough to provide the stimulation to keep you alert and on-task. If you’ve been inside for the past few hours, getting some natural sunlight will give you a quick energy boost.
(4) Take in some protein – A high protein snack like some nuts or even a protein shake will give you an immediate energy boost to help you overcome the afternoon slump.
(5) Change your mental focus – switch to another project, task or problem that will re-stimulate you and allow you to stay mentally fresh.
(6) Turn up and turn on the tunes – Listening to your favourite music will not only cheer you up, it may help you refocus and give you the energy to continue on with the tasks at hand. Apart from putting a big smile on your face! (2)
The afternoon doesn’t have to be an unproductive time for you. By implementing the simple ideas outlined above, you’ll be able to turn your slump into you peak performance time. Not only will this allow you to stand out when your peers are dragging the mid-afternoon chain, you’ll also be increasing your self-esteem and boosting your overall well-being.
(1) Puetz, T.W., Flowers, SS., O’Connor, P.J. Department of Kinesiology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 2008;77(3):167-74. Epub 2008 Feb 14.)
(2) Hodoba, D. Department of Psychiatric Research and EEG & Psychophysiology Vrapce, 10090 Zagreb, Croatia. Sleep Research Online, 1999;2(4):101-5