The science behind afternoon drowsiness is simple: The human body operates on a cycle, and a drop in the body’s temperature suggests it’s bedtime. A similar, smaller dip in body temperature happens sometime mid-afternoon, and your brain thinks it’s time for sleep.
While it’s not always at two o’clock, the mid-afternoon slump syndrome is a real thing. What you need at this time is a way to kick it, and keep up your outstanding performance. The temptation to down an energy drink, grab some candy, or start an IV drip of coffee will be strong, but there are other, healthier ways to pump up your energy (and productivity).
They call it “the most important meal of the day” for a reason. The brain functions best with carbohydrates (and a dash of protein). Eat similar kinds of food at lunch, even if you still feel pumped from the morning. Lunches that are high in fat sit in your stomach due to a longer digestive period. You may feel pleasantly full, but that feeling also contributes to drowsiness.
It’s strongly suggested that when taking long car trips, you stop every few hours to get up and get out of the car. Working while sitting at a desk isn’t much different; everyone needs a break. Combat that drop in body temperature by walking up and down some steps, or walk around the office for a few minutes. One trick is to use the restroom on a different floor. Those few extra steps go a long way. Or instead of calling or emailing a coworker when you need to discuss something, go speak with them in person.
Take some time to get outside and walk around (weather permitting). If you are unable to step outside, hover near some windows, or in places that fall in direct sunlight. A few minutes outside, or in the presence of the sun, will re-energize anyone.
Dehydration is a common cause of fatigue. Even if you are sitting at a desk, and not exerting much energy, you still need to stay hydrated to maintain energy and be productive. Alternatives to water that will still keep you hydrated are iced or hot tea.
Snack it up
And not a snack from the vending machine, that is. Like with lunch and breakfast, aim for complex carbs and protein: Fruit and peanut butter, hummus and veggies, or a little popcorn are all excellent options for balanced snacks that will give you a shot of energy.
Turn on some music
Upbeat and moderately to fast-paced music will wake up your brain. If your job requires the kind of concentration that calls for more ambient styles, shift to a less focused task and turn up some contemporary tunes. Listening to a rock or pop song while responding to emails is a nice change of pace for your brain.
It’s natural to feel drowsy or sluggish as you make your way through the work day. With these tips and tricks, you can now beat the slump and keep fighting the good fight. It doesn’t stop here; there are endless ways to give yourself an energy boost, but however you go about it, a slight change in activity is enough to perk you up and allow you to tackle your work with renewed vigor.