It's 2:30 in the afternoon, and you start to close your eyes while at work. Have you nodded off during the middle of the workday? If so, you're not the only one. At times, I always wondered to myself, why am I tired in the afternoon? When it comes to facing the “afternoon slump”, workers struggle to stay focus at work.
Why Am I Tired In The Afternoon?
According to a Pro Plus study in the UK, the exact time of the day when Brits started to feel drowsy was at 14:17 (2:17 pm non-military time). Even though 1 in 10 respondents pointed to a full stomach as the primary factor, other factors existed as well. These included low energy levels, stress, and lack of sleep. It makes sense if workers have large workloads along with working more hours.
The afternoon slump is very common in workplaces. Over my years at work, I struggled to fight this slump when I wasn't doing the right things around that time. Even some of my old coworkers struggled when I would see their eyes closed at their workstations. If you've been asking yourself, “Why am I tired in the afternoon?” I will go over five tips. These are tips to help you attack the afternoon slump, including:
1.) Get enough sleep before the workday
2.) Eat a light lunch or have a snack
3.) Stretch and go for a brief walk
4.) Avoid caffeine and drink water
5.) Take a power nap (during breaks and lunch)
Why Am I Tired In The Afternoon: Get enough sleep
For many people, this one is a “duh, of course,” thing to keep in mind. But getting a good night's sleep the night before can make a difference in your daily productivity. You'll feel more alert and willing to take on more tasks in the middle of the day. If you're not getting enough sleep, not only are you depriving your health, but you're hurting your performance at work.
People I know of (even myself) have been guilty of not getting enough sleep. My former peers would tell me they stay up late doing other things, such as family responsibilities or relaxing (watching TV). So for adults, the average number of hours is 6-8 hours. If they're getting less than 6 hours of sleep, that can be a leading factor to the afternoon slump. I know it can be not easy sometimes, but I started to have self-discipline. When you make sleep a priority, it can make a difference in how you go about your daily routine.
Why Am I Tired In The Afternoon: Eat a light lunch or snack
Eating a heavy lunch during the middle of the day is a significant factor in causing the afternoon slump. When some people eat heavy-filling meals, they can start to feel tired once they're back to work. For myself, I'm not a lunch person. If I have heavy meals during the middle of the day, I start to feel tired and struggle to work in the afternoon.
But if I have lunch, I try to eat lighter meals in the middle of the afternoon. Even though there are days I'd like to eat more, I know not to because of my past experiences. So I limit myself to lighter lunches or having snacks most days. Even a granola bar (or some fruit) are healthy foods to keep your energy level up. When I eat light in the afternoon, I feel less fatigued and likely will get more work done.
Stretch & go for brief walks
One of the most useful tips for staying alert is regular stretching and walking. Most days, I get in the habit of stretching and moving my body after sitting for an hour. Stretching can be very beneficial to prevent stiffness and fatigue. Also, stretching can prevent common body strains and injuries if some parts of your body become stiff for too long.
On the other hand, going for brief walks is an excellent way to stay active while on the job. Even if it's walking around the office, at least it'll help get your adrenaline going. There are some workplaces where employees are allowed to wear gym shoes. Especially for some jobs, people regularly walk around the office and need some support for their feet. So make it a healthy habit to stretch and walk for a few minutes throughout the day.
Avoid caffeine & drink water
Many people drink caffeine to fight the afternoon slump. Though it might be viewed as a quick “pick-me-up,” having caffeine later in the day can affect your sleeping patterns near the end of the day. Drinking caffeine right before bedtime will make it difficult to fall asleep. But even avoiding caffeine several hours before going to bed will help prepare for a better night's sleep. For myself, I usually stop drinking caffeine at least six hours before going to bed.
In place of caffeine, drink water instead. Water is essential to keep yourself hydrated, along with staying focused at work. Not drinking enough water during the day can cause drowsiness and headaches now and then. Neglecting water intake can have an impact on your work performance. Water is an excellent alternative to caffeine during the middle of the day.
Take a power nap if possible
Although napping is not frequent in the workplace (exceptions at these companies), it's possible to set some time for a power nap. Of course, please don't do it while you're working at your desk. But during breaks and lunchtime, those can be good times to get a power nap in. For instance, if you didn't sleep well the night before, maybe take a quick 10-15 minute power nap in your break area during the morning. Or, take a quick power nap while at lunch if you're not hungry some days.
In my last few jobs, some days I felt tired from staying up late the previous night. So I would take a quick power nap, and 15 minutes later, I felt more rejuvenated. Or during lunch, I would take longer naps instead of eating or reading during those periods. I found that power naps helped me avoid a slowdown in my energy levels during the afternoon. If I took a good power nap earlier in the day, I was confident that I wouldn't nod off at 2 pm in the office.
Fighting the afternoon slump can be a challenge for many people. It's never a great feeling to have your energy levels crash in the middle of the day. Only later, you'll end up getting little done once you wrap up your workday. Although it's a prevalent issue around the world, it doesn't have to be. With the tips listed earlier in the post, you can feel more confident taking on more work.
Do you struggle to confront the afternoon slump?
Are there any tips you try out to avoid the afternoon slump?
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