It’s that time of day again. It has arrived. Your eyes feel sandpapery as you struggle to keep them open. Your whole body feels lethargic, but your workday is far from over.
It’s the dreaded 3 pm slump, and it hits hard several times a week, at the very least. Even though you only have a few hours of work left you’re not sure you’re going to make it without a quick desktop nap.
Why does this keep happening and how can you avoid the 3 pm slump all together? Here are some ideas to help you out if taking a siesta isn’t an option!
Why do I have an afternoon slump?
The feeling of tiredness and fatigue is a natural response to circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are our body clocks and control our sleep cycles, making us sleepy between the hours of 2 - 4 am and 1 - 3 pm.
Too little sleep, carby lunches, dehydration, and high-stress levels can also be contributors. Here are 5 ways to stress less at work.
The benefits of movement cannot be overstated in this case. Stretching, getting up and moving around can be one of the best ways to wake yourself up. Taking five minutes to get up and walk to the water cooler or to a co-worker’s desk can have great benefits. Hitting the gym on your lunch break also boosts your productivity once you get back to your desk.
If you can, sit in the sun for 10 minutes or better yet, go for a quick walk outside. Walking meetings are also something you can put in place. Sunlight helps reset your internal clock. It also reduces the amount of melatonin your body produces. Sunlight is also the best source of Vitamin D proven to have many health benefits.
Humans are social animals and interactions with others rev us up. If you’re working from home, having a quick video chat with a colleague can act as a great pick me up. If you’re back in the office, consider talking to a friend in the office to re-energise.
Rather than sending that work-related email, go and talk to the recipient in person. Talking, smiling and laughing with others will make you feel less drowsy.
Try to schedule collaborative meetings for the afternoon instead of in the morning.
You can also give the Pomodoro technique a go. Work in 25-minute bursts with 5-minute breaks between. Then take a longer break after five 25-minute sets. There are several apps you can use for this but a normal timer will do the job.
Don't forget to give your eyes a rest from staring at your screen every 20 minutes. Look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Not all snacks are good for you. While you might be craving carbs, cutting them out can help prevent an afternoon slump in the first place. A chocolate bar has a quick energy surge, but an even quicker drop. Go for fruit, veggies, nuts or a small quantity of dark chocolate containing caffeine. Minty chewing gum is also known to be a stimulant and chewing helps the brain fight lethargy.
Don’t forget water either. Most of us don’t drink as much water as we should. But staying hydrated can help you stay awake and alert throughout the day. A mid-afternoon cup of green tea (avoid coffee) is also a good idea. For more work eating tips click here.
Review at what times you’re most productive and schedule your most demanding tasks in at that time of day. Save easier tasks for when you’re not at the peak of your productivity curve. Most people’s concentration declines after an hour. So next time you feel your focus fading, switch to another task to change things up a bit.
Listening to your favourite high-energy songs will also pick you up and make you feel pumped. Spotify has a great selection of playlists or you can create your own.
Lasting throughout the day without hitting a slump starts with getting a good night’s sleep. You know your limits, and you know the consequences of pushing those. Save yourself a lot of effort and headache and stick to a bedtime that’s suitable for your body’s needs.
Also, consider what you’re eating throughout the day. Experts say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a reason. Find what you like, but also consider the long-lasting health benefits of those foods. Yoghurt and whole-grain cereal are a couple of the many options at your disposal. Your body will thank you. Same goes for lunch. Getting the right nutrients at lunch is still important. Protein is a go for lunch, while you may want to cut back a bit on the carbs.