I tend to suffer a sleepiness attack in the mid-afternoon. I thought it was just me because sometimes I have not enough sleep in the night before that makes me experience a noticeable dip in my alertness, energy level, and ability to concentrate in the afternoon. However, after watching a video on YouTube, now I knew that it is called Afternoon slump and many people experience this.
The Afternoon Slump
Afternoon Slump is a term used to describe the sleepy and sluggish feeling that comes on in the afternoon. If you notice, our cognitive abilities do not remain the same over the day, we are smarter and more energetic during some parts of the day, while we are the other during others. for instance, during the night, we experience a massive drop by energy and alertness, mainly between 2 am to 4 am.
Still, we don’t usually notice this drop in mental ability since most of us are asleep.
However, upon waking, our energy and alertness steadily increase over the day until they reach a peak in the late morning. When we tend to be at our cognitive best, that peak is then followed by an afternoon low, which is called the afternoon slump. The low occurs approximately seven hours upon waking up, which usually between 1 pm to 4 pm.
There are some reasons we experience the afternoon slump, here are some of them.
Lack of sleep
When we get insufficient sleep, our mental alertness is severely reduced, especially during the afternoon slump. But if we are getting an optimal amount of sleep on a regular basis, the circadian dip is going to be less intense. Sometimes, we are trying to get more time in our day by cutting on our sleep. We hope to get more done since we are awake longer, this is actually a mistake we don’t realize that we are functioning sub-optimally throughout the day.
We have more time, but we have a harder time focusing, and thus, it takes us longer to get our work done. Otherwise, when we get optimal sleep, we have slightly less time in our day. But we have more energy and our function much better as a result.
We Ate a Carb-Heavy Lunch
Another thing that causes the afternoon slump is a big carbohydrate lunch. Digestion can take up tons of energy. Big meals can give our stomach quite a workload. However, what can make it even worse are meals.
Big meals can give our stomach quite a workload. However, what can make it even worse are meals made out of simple carbs, such as sugar. When we eat simple carbohydrates, our blood glucose tends to spike up; it gives us temporary energy, but a decrease then follows that spike in glucose levels, which results in a crash below our normal levels.
When we pair this sugar crush with an afternoon slump, an irresistible urge to sleep will overcome us. To avoid this massive crash at lunchtime, we need to avoid big heavy meals, made out of simple carbs. We can choose for smaller portions, with various nutrients such as protein, fat, and fiber instead.
Dehydration can also lead to a loss of strength and stamina. If dehydration is a contributing factor to our afternoon fatigue, drinking a full glass of water and continuing to sip more fluids during the day is an easy way to get rid of sluggish feelings.
How to Get Through Afternoon Slamp
Eat a High Protein Lunch
Pasta or pizza isn’t the main culprit for your post-lunch fatigue, but swapping your carb-laden feast with protein and vegetables can improve your attention span. Carbs increase serotonin, which has a calming effect. This might be great when you’re looking to unwind at the end of the day, but not so great for doing work that requires a high level of concentration.
Taking a walk will boost your energy levels. Sharpen our focus and reduce the feelings of fatigue in the afternoon. One study found that walking around 5 minutes, roughly every hour, and the workday is more effective than a single 30 minutes walk. If you’re in an office, instead of emailing or calling a colleague, get up and walk to their desk to ask a question face-to-face. If you’re home, take a short walk. The little bit of movement will do you good.
Chewing gums with strong minty flavors like peppermint and spearmint are stimulating, and therefore the act of chewing helps the brain fight feelings of lethargy.
If all above Fail, Take a Power Nap
Napping can lead to considerable benefits in terms of alertness and cognitive performance, a 10 to 20 nap is proven to increase mental alertness for three hours. Don’t take a nap longer than 20 minutes, if you nap for too long, you are going to feel more tired and sleepy than before you took a nap, so keep your power nap short.