We all know the feeling: You’ve been working like a trooper all morning, smashing out reports, winning new clients and changing the world. Then after lunch, it hits like a 10ton of bricks – the afternoon slump, funk, reach for the junk. You try your very hardest to resist the chocolate from the office charity box (but eventually give in, coz you’re the charitable type of person), write an email (at a rate of one work per 5 minutes), browse social media and wish your desk would magically transform into a king-sized bed. Ok, you would even settle for a single.
It’s not just you. It’s a scientifically proven fact, all to do with your biological circadian rhythm – a 24 hour physiological processes of all living beings – that predicts a slump in alertness 12 hours after your deepest sleep.
It’s such an entrenched phenomenon, that for centuries, people in Spain have been shutting up shop and taking a 3-hour siesta in the afternoon. But alas, for most of us being present in the office from 9am-5pm is a given. So what can we do to alleviate the afternoon slump? Here’s our top tips:
- Prevention is better than cure
Although it is completely natural to have a slump in alertness in the afternoon, there are things that many of us do to exacerbate the issue. So let’s put these straight out there – eat a light, protein-filled lunch and avoid heavy carbs at lunchtime. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night time (7-9 hours for most of us). Don’t go too hard in the coffee in the morning OR miss breakfast. Here’s a really great blog on how to get a good nights’ sleep!
- Get Moving
Since there’s a clear connection between mind and body, energising your body can also energise your mind! Sure, you might not feel like it right now, but if you can get out of the office, take a brisk stroll, preferably in nature or near water. It’s been proven that walking can improve creativity by 80% and the boost in natural light and cortisol can kick-start the ‘awake’ part of your circadian rhythm. Can’t get outside or leave your desk? Try these ‘deskercises’ that will get your blood flowing and release any tension you’ve built up during the day
- Drink a Big ‘Ol Glass of H2O
One of the biggest causes of lethargy is dehydration – especially if you skipped step 1 and drank too much caffeine in the morning. Since your brain is made up of 73% water, any dip in hydration can have a big effect on your brainpower. Drinking water can also kick-start your metabolism and flush out toxins, so head to the water cooler (yes, the walk will do you good too) and down a pint of water. Despise the taste of water? Add some slices of lemon, any fruit, mint, herbal tea to give it some oomph!
- Listen to Energising Music
Music has the power to make us happy, sad, relaxed and, yes you guessed it – energised. Bring in your headphones and rock out to some of your favourite turnes to give you an energy boost. If you have the confidence to get up and bust out some awesome moves and get the blood flowing, even better (see tip 2)! But if you’re planning on listening to music and working at the same time, remember that not all music is created equal. There’s a delicate science to finding the right music to listen to to avoid using up even more energy.
- Just Take a Nap Will You?!
If your body is telling you you need to sleep, the most logical thing to do is to sleep. The science on taking naps is pretty conclusive – naps can improve health, energy, cognitive function, immunity and emotional control – and all you really need is ten minutes.
Whilst the head offices of organisations like Huffington Post, Uber, Cisco, PwC and Proctor & Gamble have all embraced sleep pods and rooms, this is not the reality for most workplaces.
In many businesses, whether it is overtly expressed or not, there is a stigma that an employee taking a nap is ‘lazy’. At others, there just isn’t the space to install a sleep pod or for workers to lie around on the floor. But there are still solutions – take a towel and head outside for some shut eye in a local park, book time at public sleep pods available in some gyms, libraries and health centres, or just stick your headphones in, a jumper on your desk and rest your head for 10 minutes.
So at work this week, next time you slow down to a snail’s pace, or feel your eyelids drooping after lunch, give one (or all!) of the tips above a try. Tell us – how did you get on? What do you do to overcome your afternoon funk? And what does your company do to help you?