Feeling sleepy, unmotivated or distracted in the afternoon? Well, you could be dealing with a slump or loss of energy that typically comes after your lunch break.
While it might not be a sudden crash, between 2-5pm is when people will find it harder to focus. There are many reasons that add up to you feeling drained during the afternoon, from eating a big lunch to sitting still for too long.
According to sleep and nutrition experts from WebMD (opens in new tab), this energy slump is completely natural and is mainly linked to the circadian rhythm which sends the body sleep signals. Midday sleepiness can be seen as “a miniature version of the drowsiness you feel just before bedtime” and is assisted by the fact that the afternoon is when most people have just eaten, which can also make you feel drowsy.
To stay focused, alert and motivated during the afternoon, here are 7 tips to help you beat and avoid the dreaded afternoon energy slump. Before we get into these tips, make sure you’re set-up for sleep success with the best mattress (opens in new tab) and the best pillow (opens in new tab).
1. Keep hydrated
The first way to avoid the afternoon energy slump is to keep hydrated. Drinking enough water is essential to general health, brain functions and mental capabilities. If you’re dehydrated, not only will you feel more fatigued but you’ll most likely experience changes in your mood, performance and energy levels. So, if you feel yourself getting sleepy or unnecessarily irritable, try having a glass or two of water – see the best water bottles (opens in new tab) for our favourite reusable options.
2. Eat healthy meals & snacks
What you eat during the day can have a big impact on your energy levels. By eating a nutritious and energy boosting breakfast, you start your day off the right way. In general, you should be eating a breakfast that has a balance of protein, fats and complex carbohydrates so you release energy gradually and feel fuller for longer, says Rest Less (opens in new tab). A big factor that contributes to the afternoon energy slump is lunch, as eating causes your blood sugar to rise which can be followed by a dip in energy. If this is the case for you, having a snack like nuts or fruits can help replenish your energy levels.
3. Cut off your caffeine fix
When you’re feeling sleepy, a cup of coffee, tea or an energy drink is an easy go-to but while it might give you a sweet burst of energy, it can actually have a negative effect on your body and mess up your sleep in the evening. According to multiple studies, caffeine can disrupt your sleep up to six hours after consuming it, so it’s important to keep this in mind before you have a risky 4pm coffee. In our what time should you stop drinking coffee? (opens in new tab) guide, we found that between 2 - 3pm is the safe window in which you should consume your last caffeinated beverage, so by 9pm, you feel sleepy and ready to turn in for the night.
4. Choose your tasks wisely
Mentally draining or difficult tasks should be focused on in the morning, as we’re typically more awake during this time and it can be harder to concentrate after multiple hours of work in the afternoon. To ensure you’re working well and avoiding a major energy slump, put your easier tasks in the afternoon. If this isn’t possible, try to break down your big projects into smaller tasks so your workload is more manageable and you feel a sense of accomplishment when you tick them off your to-do list.
5. Take breaks
If you’re really struggling with motivation, take a break to keep yourself energised. This is especially important if you work in front of a computer screen, as the brightness can put further stress or strain on your eyes. In this 5-15 minute break, walk away from your desk and try to do something that relaxes and excites you. This could be getting a drink, having a quick walk around the office, chatting with a colleague, and so on. If you work from home, rather than getting comfortable on the sofa in your break, try to tackle simple tasks around the house like washing or watering the plants, or even have a quick nap – we recommend giving the Navy SEAL 8-minute nap hack (opens in new tab) a try.
6. Get outside or do light exercise
If you’re lacking in concentration and feeling a bit stressed, getting outside or partaking in some light exercise can make a world of difference to your energy levels. Fresh air is always beneficial and can help you clear your thoughts so you feel refreshed when you come back to your laptop. Light exercise like going for a walk, or stretching gets your body moving and releases endorphins so you feel more revitalised and ready to carry on with your workload.
7. Improve your sleep schedule
While these tips can massively improve your energy levels and help you avoid an afternoon slump, you need to make sure you’re getting a good night’s sleep. Getting to bed at the right time, having a good amount of hours rest, sticking to a bedtime routine, limiting screen time and sleeping on the right mattress are all factors that can help improve your sleep schedule. For more sleep tips, see how to sleep better at night (opens in new tab).