Healthy Living

Natural Ways To Prevent The Mid-Afternoon Slump — Caffeine-Free

Man in office
Skip the coffee and sugar, and beat the mid-afternoon slump the natural way to keep your circadian rhythm in sync. LaurMG

It's between two o'clock and five o'clock in the afternoon as your body and mind begin to crash and doze off — a typical case of the mid-afternoon slump. Many Americans experience this wave of sleepiness, finding it hard to keep their eyes open or even yawning on the job. The daily amount of cognitive work that the average American does requires the circadian rhythms to be in sync in order to get the most out of the work day. Schedules are often made based on convenience rather than following the body's natural rhythms, which ultimately impairs metabolic, cardiovascular, and behavioral rhythms in relation to their response to light, said Steve Kay, a professor of molecular and computational biology at the University of Southern California, to the Wall Street Journal. Kay believes aligning schedules with the body clock could reduce diabetes, depression, dementia, and obesity because the circadian rhythms would no longer be disrupted.

The reasoning behind greater focus and energy in the late morning and then energy lags in the afternoon has to do with body temperature. Your body's temperature begins to increase during the morning and decreases by mid-afternoon until it is highest at the end of the work day, helping accelerate cognitive function, says Mayo Clinic. To prevent the mid-afternoon slump and keep cognitive function at its highest, it is essential to allow your body to recharge. "Our energy is not a limitless resource, but it is something we can invest back into so we aren't running on fumes," said Heidi Hanna, Ph.D., CEO of the Synergy Foundation for Brain Health, to Medical Daily. "Oscillating periods of being engaged with strategic disengagement is key to not burning out, and arriving home with energy left for the other people and things that matter in our life." To beat the afternoon slump, especially in the summer, skip the caffeine and sugar, which can add onto your slump feeling and make you more tired than you already are.

Dodge the afternoon slump at work with these natural ways to stay alert and happy on the job.

Get A Good Night's Sleep The Night Before

While this is easier said than done, a good night's sleep is one of the best natural remedies to combat the afternoon slump. Adequate sleep helps the brain reinforce what you learned the day before, which will give you better memory and help you feel more mentally alert. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, even getting an hour less of a sleep can result in slower mental functioning the next day because your reactions will be delayed, negatively impacting your memory. The National Sleep Foundation recommends approximately seven to eight hours of sleep every night for healthy adults.

Do Not Skip Out On A Healthy Breakfast

A healthy breakfast in the morning will help you feel energized and alert at the start of our day. To get the most out of your breakfast, avoid sugary cereals and breads. "...Opt for oatmeal with berries, a tofu scramble with veggies, or a green smoothie with flax seeds," said Ronni Arno Blaisdell, a certified health coach, to Medical Daily. "A good breakfast will keep you satisfied longer, so you won't feel the need to binge during lunch."

Eat A High-Protein Lunch

The mid-afternoon slump usually begins two hours after lunch has been consumed. Lunch is considered a big factor of the energy lags experienced during the afternoon because of the foods consumed. A big meal with processed foods, including refined carbohydrates, fried foods, and sugar-laden desserts, causes quick surges of energy and then an immediate crash in blood sugar, which generates the slump.

It is important to eat low glycemic index foods to regulate your blood sugar levels. Dr. Larry McCleary, a Neurosurgeon in Nevada told Medical Daily that the combination of brain healthy fats such as - omega-3 fatty acids and low glycemic index foods that contain protein/and or complex, not refined - glucose, fructose and other sugars - carbohydrates provides energy that will keep you full longer. The sugar surge and crash is avoided when following Dr. McClearly's meal plan because the high sugary snacks are limited if not eliminated from your lunch diet.

Tip: Blaisdell suggests opting for a salad with a lot of veggies and a lean source of protein, like beans, or a veggie and avocado sandwich on whole grain bread.

Walk It Out

It is important to get blood circulation throughout your entire body. A brisk walk can improve your blood flow and boost your energy levels. "Seniors who participate in something as simple as a daily walking program have been shown to have better cognition than those who don't," said McCleary to Medical Daily. An afternoon walk can get your heart rate up and your blood pumping, especially on a sunny day where vitamin D can increase your alertness.

Talk It Out

The art of conversing can keep your energy levels high during the mid-afternoon. If you work in an office, suggest a day where everyone walks over to each other's desk to relay messages instead of shooting an e-mail or instant message. Going over to your co-worker's desk and talking to them will allow you to stretch your hamstrings and help you stay motivated and alert.

Exercise/Deskercise

Exercising can provide energy to the body and will increase your alertness if you go for a run outside. However, if you are restricted to the confines of your cubicle at work, getting in a work out can be a dilemma. Deskercise, or exercising at your desk every couple of hours, is recommended by the University of California to ease tension, increase flexibility, and get your blood flow going.

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