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For anyone that’s ever worked during the day, the afternoon slump is all too familiar. Even after a good night’s rest, when the afternoon rolls around, your mind feels tired and your body feels sluggish. Even the simplest of tasks, like having a meeting, can suddenly feel like a chore.

Everyone has their own approach to the afternoon crash. In Spain for example, the siesta is a cultural tradition of taking a short nap in the afternoon and waking up to work into the evening. Others simply rely on caffeine and energy drinks, while some simply limit the work they do.

By understanding how this afternoon crash is caused and the various factors that influence wakefulness, and taking the necessary steps, anyone can overcome the midday slump. In this post, we’ll describe the main causes as well as a few solutions to help you through your day.


What are the symptoms of the afternoon slump?

Each person experiences the afternoon slump differently, but there are a few common symptoms that when identified can help anyone combat the crash.

– Lethargy and fatigue
– Lack of concentration
– Drowsiness
– Changes in vision
– Muscle weakness
– Headaches or migraines
– Mood changes (irritability, depression)

The afternoon slump is more than general tiredness from work. It may indicate a greater, underlying issue from lack of proper nutrition or rest. If you continue to experience any of the symptoms above even after taking the necessary precautions, it is advised that you consult a medical professional.


Why do we experience an afternoon slump?

It turns out that this drowsiness can be linked to our circadian rhythm, an internal clock that lets us know when to wake up and when to fall asleep. Your core body temperature actually drops slightly in the afternoon, which releases melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. This same process takes place right before you go to sleep at night.

Check out neuroscientist Russel Foster’s TED Talk: “Why do we sleep?

But our bodies are complex, and our energy is affected by more than just our circadian rhythm. A heavy lunch, for example, can also be a major reason for the afternoon slump. Diet, exercise, and sleep habits all make a difference. Here are a few ways you can avoid feeling sleepy in the afternoon.


5 tips to get over the afternoon crash


1. Eat more consistently.

Start with better breakfast options. Skip the coffee and donut (the time you save comes back to haunt you in the afternoon), and opt for grains, fruit, or green tea instead. Trade cereal for oatmeal, which will help you stay more full. Pack a banana or sliced apples for the day. Reduce the fat your body consumes and focus on a steady intake of protein and carbohydrates to keep you focused. Eating light snacks consistently throughout the day as opposed to one or two high-fat meals can help you through the day. WebMD offers a few more alternatives and explanations for a healthy diet during work.


2. Drink more consistently.

Our body needs water to regulate temperature, to flush out toxins, and to overall stay hydrated. Yet because we get so wrapped up with our work, it’s so easy to forget to drink water consistently. Consider purchasing a water bottle with time markers and refilling it at a nearby water fountain. These time markers can be helpful reminders of when you are supposed to drink, which in turn will help you stay up when you need to.


3. Move more frequently.

The more sedentary you are, the more you’re likely to doze off. Regular exercise can help improve almost every bodily function- from inhaling oxygen into your lungs to pumping blood through your arteries, to basic movement like climbing stairs. It’s easier said than done, but good exercise routines will always pay off. Instead of sleeping in, try going for a run, a brisk walk, or a bike ride early in the morning. It just may help you stay alert in the afternoon. Even basic activities like standing while you work, or walking home, can make a huge difference in your wakefulness. Check out this article from the Washington Post to learn a few ways you can stay active even at work.


4. Work more creatively.

If you don’t have the luxury of leaving the office midday, find ways to make work more interesting. Move to a different side of the office for a new perspective. Break up the monotony of your to-do list by switching to shorter tasks every hour or every half-hour. Walk outside and get some daylight, or just take a ten-minute break in between major projects. If you approach your work with the same mindset each day, then feeling sleepy in the afternoon should come as no surprise. The Pomodoro Technique is an effective way of managing time while getting things done.


5. Sleep more comfortably.

Even with all these tips in mind, none of them are very effective if you’re getting less than five hours of sleep each night. Your sleep routine is equally important. Get a bed that supports your back, and set the temperature at comfortable levels. Most importantly, switch off electronics at least an hour before bed. Turning off the television and smartphone will help regulate your melatonin levels, ensuring you have a more relaxed and continuous sleep cycle. The Mayo Clinic offers a few tips for those who want better sleep, which also connects to a better diet and exercise routine.


Living a balanced life

Eating healthy and staying active aren’t new philosophies. But understanding how diet, sleep, and exercise can impact your work performance can be an eye-opening experience. It’s one thing to read about these routines in a blog, it’s another to put them in practice and notice a change. Healthier habits don’t occur overnight, but over weeks of practice, failure, and determination. But in the end, you’ll become a happier and more alert version of yourself.

Have you reviewed our options for office spaces? A coworking space or plug-and-play office may just be your best solution. The activity from all the businesses and entrepreneurs in the background keeps teams productive and honed-in. Light snacks, tea, and coffee can are available in the kitchen, giving people a slight energy boost. Finally, there are dedicated desks, standing tables, bars, couches, and private offices that create a variety of places to do your work.

Follow Novel Coworking’s blog for more articles on self-improvement, productivity, and entrepreneurship.