It tends to happen every day around the same time. It begins with a simple yawn, then your eyelids start getting heavy, and before you know it, you’re staring at your computer screen struggling to remember what you’re doing. It’s the dreaded post-lunch afternoon period where you hit the wall and find it increasingly harder to stay focused and productive. It’s the well-known “afternoon slump.”

We have probably all experienced an afternoon slump at some point – and while in most cases it’s perfectly natural – it’s no fun, especially when you have a list of tasks needing to get done.

If you really are familiar with the afternoon slump, then here are some steps to ramp up your productivity during the workday’s home stretch.  

Find out why you are fatigued

The first step is to find out why you get tired in the afternoon. Because fatigue has a multitude of causes, it’s hard to track down the exact cause. But this article on the common causes of fatigue is a good place to start.

Sometimes there is no specific cause for the afternoon slump – it’s simply the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Peak alertness naturally tends to drop off after the first eight or so hours of being awake. However, this doesn’t mean the afternoon slump is unavoidable. Here are several ways to prevent sleepiness and/or manage your energy levels.

Take a nap

A big misconception from childhood is that nap time is punishment. We were wrong. The post-lunch nap is common in many cultures around the world and the most effective way to fight the afternoon slump.

Even a quick 10-20 minute nap during your lunch break can do the trick.

One study found that a quick afternoon nap actually reduces a decline in cognitive flexibility; thus, improving the brain’s ability to quickly switch focus from one task to another.1

Unfortunately, not everyone can sneak in a nap at work. That’s okay. There are plenty of other ways to get around the afternoon slump.

Step outside

If napping is off the table, then spend the same amount of break time outside in the fresh air and sunshine. A quick change of scenery can be what you need to improve productivity.

Make a phone call or catch up on email outside. Sunlight will also naturally boost your vitamin D and serotonin levels, which can positively affect mood – and a better mood can help you power through the last half of the day.

Watch what you eat

Eating habits can be a reason for afternoon fatigue, starting with breakfast. If your typical day is grabbing a coffee and heading to the office, then you are setting yourself up for a crash.

Instead, when you eat breakfast, think balance. A nice balance of healthy carbohydrates, protein, and fiber will help you feel full and energized through the day. Try breakfasts that include:

  • Eggs and whole wheat toast
  • Steel cut oatmeal with granola, fruit, and nuts
  • A cup of protein-packed yogurt topped with flax seed, banana, and a spoonful of peanut butter

Lunch is equally important. Depending on what you eat, you can either prevent or cause a slump. A lunch that is loaded with refined carbohydrates, fats, and sugar will likely give you a quick energy boost, but it will also just as quickly be followed by a crash.

Also, don’t overeat. As anyone after a Thanksgiving dinner can attest to, too much food usually makes you drowsy.

Instead, when eating lunch, aim for a light mix of veggies and protein, such as a salad topped with chicken, eggs, tuna, or chickpeas. If you don’t have time for a big production, then try a protein-packed shake – protein powder, plus water, milk, or juice of choice, plus something extra (for example, fruit, nut butters, yogurt, or greens) thrown into a blender. Explore Thorne’s protein powders.

Stretch at your desk

As soon as you start feeling that post-lunch drowsiness set in, stand up and stretch. Stretching provides a quick energy boost because it increases the circulation of blood and oxygen throughout the body. Plus, it’s also a great way to relieve stress and tension in your muscles.

Try a sustained-release supplement

When you sense the first signs of an afternoon slump coming on, it can be very tempting to reach for a quick caffeine fix. But that is probably not the best idea. 

Consuming caffeine late in the afternoon can disrupt your sleep schedule by making it difficult to fall asleep at night, which can leave you exhausted the next day and set you up for another afternoon slump.

Instead, try a sustained-release caffeine supplement earlier in the day – like Thorne’s Memoractiv™.

Memoractiv contains PurEnergy™, which provides a sustained-release low dose of caffeine. Its sustained-release characteristic means you get a continual low dose of caffeine throughout the day, as opposed to the quick boost that a cup of coffee provides.

Memoractiv is also much more than just caffeine – it contains a unique combination of botanical extracts and nutrients that have been found to provide several cognitive benefits, including support for concentration, mental focus, and reaction time.* Can a cup of coffee do all that?

If you are looking for a comprehensive approach to healthy energy support, then supplement with Thorne’s Energy Bundle.* This trio of supplements works synergistically to support the body’s production of energy all the way down to the cellular level.*


References

  1. Slama H, Deliens G, Schmitz R, et al. Afternoon nap and bright light exposure improve cognitive flexibility post lunch. PLoS One 2015;10(5):e0125359. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0125359