Does this scenario sound familiar to you?
You go through your daily tasks, planning to accomplish all of them by the end of the day. Suddenly, right after your lunch break, you start feeling tired and start losing focus.
All you can think of is getting a good nap. Yeah, we get you.
And luckily, there are ways to prevent that mid-afternoon slump and increase your mental focus.
The mid-afternoon slump is a very common occurrence, and it’s primarily a result of our body’s natural rhythms. Specifically of note are the circadian rhythms, which affect our metabolism.
Research shows that people have the lowest energy levels and the worst moods in the period between 1 pm and 3 pm, hence the name ‘mid-afternoon’ slump.
Common causes of the mid-afternoon slump
Apart from our body’s natural energy cycles, there are a few more factors that increase the severity of the slump.
And it’s a win-win: As you focus on preventing your afternoon slump, you will simultaneously improve your overall health.
Lack of quality sleep
People have various sleeping needs and patterns, but the vast majority of adults need around eight hours of a good night’s sleep.
Sleep deprivation has a direct influence on our daytime performance and alertness, and it impairs our memory and cognitive abilities. Moreover, research shows that sleep deprivation leads to genetic changes that can cause serious diseases.
In order to prevent long-term damage to your body, to fight the mid-afternoon energy slump and to increase your focus, try to stick to healthy sleeping habits.
Limit caffeine intake after 2pm, release yourself from daily stress and learn how to relax. Give your body and mind the rest they need and you will be amazed by the effects!
Lack of physical activities
People tend to relate physical activities to their appearance, often forgetting about the health benefits of leading a physically active life.
Physical activities play an enormous role in maintaining the health of our body and mind. Regular workouts or even long walks can boost your energy levels, help you increase mental focus and improve your sleep.
You don’t have to make any radical changes – they can sometimes have an opposite effect and cause you additional stress. You can help yourself by making small steps towards changing your habits.
Activate your body and you will instantly feel the benefits. The intensity of the energy slump will decrease and you will feel more energized during the entire day.
You can start by limiting the habits that involve sitting, such as using the computer or watching TV.
If your job involves continuous sitting, make frequent breaks to take a walk or stretch to improve blood circulation. Dedicate at least 30 minutes each day to performing some kind of an activity.
Visit the gym, do some exercises at home or just take a walk outside.
Intoxicating the body on a daily basis
If you live in a big city, the polluted air that you breathe is damaging your body significantly. If you add daily use of alcohol and cigarettes to this, you have a combination that adds to the intensity of your mid-afternoon energy slump.
Studies show that cigarettes play a big role in lowering energy levels.
The harmful substances contained in cigarette smoke reduce the amount of oxygen in the blood. Our body needs sufficient amounts of oxygen in order to produce enough energy. Therefore, smokers usually suffer bigger energy slumps compared to non-smokers.
Alcohol consumption also influences the power of the body to produce energy. Alcohol stimulates the body’s insulin response and reduces blood sugar levels. This leads to hypoglycemia, which drains energy from the body.
Not choosing your food wisely
Your eating habits have an enormous influence on your energy levels and on the mid-afternoon slump.
Eating the right food at the right time can boost your energy and increase mental focus. A bad choice of foods or meal timing can drain your energy when you need it the most, and keep you awake when you need to sleep.
There are numerous studies that show breakfast is the most important meal of the day for many health-related reasons. This ‘rule’ also applies when it comes to preventing the afternoon slump and keeping energy levels balanced throughout the day.
In fact, a proper breakfast and lunch, together with good hydration are the secret to keeping you energized.
Skipping your breakfast will interfere with your body’s natural attempts to boost the metabolism and provide enough energy for the day.
Not having a proper breakfast will also lead to eating large meals for lunch which will inevitably cause a mid-afternoon energy slump.
In order to prevent energy slumps, choose good quality food for lunch such as high quality proteins, low glycemic carbohydrates and heart-healthy fats. Having a heavy meal for lunch and skipping lunch can both lead to lowering your blood sugar levels.
Skipping lunch will make you crave sweet foods, which will create an overall lack of balance in your metabolism.
Choose food which is rich in proteins and iron for lunch, and you will give your body good fuel to function without draining your energy. Protein-rich food helps the body produce dopamine, which increases the ability to concentrate.
Dehydration makes you physically weaker
Another crucial factor that influences the impact of the afternoon energy slump is water. Even a slight dehydration makes the body function less efficiently and causes a feeling of tiredness and poor concentration.
Typically, the human body needs around two liters of water every day, and even more if the weather is hot or if you are exercising.
You shouldn’t wait until you feel thirsty, because a sense of thirst means that your body is already dehydrated. Try to drink water at regular intervals during the day and you will keep your body properly hydrated.
Don’t get stuck in the slump:
- Get a good night’s sleep, your brain will love it.
- Regular exercise keeps metabolism and energy levels high.
- Despite the nicotine, smoking saps energy and oxygen in your blood, leading to tiredness.
- Alcohol destabilizes insulin levels and saps energy.
- Breakfast will boost your metabolism and energy to keep engines running all day.
- Don’t skip lunch, fool. A high-protein lunch will stave off that slump like a champ.
- Dehydration makes you crabby and unfocused – visit the water cooler often.