Most people are intimately familiar with that dreaded afternoon slump–you’re halfway through the day, likely just had some lunch, and can feel yourself starting to lose steam. It happens to the best of us! There are many reasons for this, though it has been primarily linked to the reward system our circadian rhythm regulates. Essentially, we start losing motivation around midday and our brains stop feeling rewarded even when we accomplish things.
About 40% of Americans do not get the recommended amount of sleep, but having a consistent sleep routine (more so than getting enough hours) also plays a big factor in ensuring your energy levels stay up throughout the day, though it’s not always a possibility for a variety of reasons. So what are some other things we can do to help?
We know not everyone is able to leave what they are doing during the workday, but if you’re able to go for a brisk 10-minute walk around the block or even do some stretches at your desk, low-intensity exercise has been shown to help reduce the feeling of fatigue. Making yourself move is not only helpful for your mental health, but it also improves blood flow and makes you feel more focused.
Did you know dehydration can cause the cells in your body to shrink? This includes your brain cells, which can contribute to feelings of exhaustion, headaches and poor concentration. Keeping a large water bottle next to you and setting reminders to drink throughout the day is a great way to help combat those symptoms.
Coffee has many benefits, but if you’re looking to keep your energy throughout the day, a better strategy is to drink it in smaller doses instead of starting off with a large cup first thing in the morning. Since caffeine leaves your body after only a few hours, this helps make sure you don’t experience a big crash later in the day–that being said, make sure your last cup is finished at least six hours before bedtime to avoid disrupting your sleep.
While sugar can definitely help give your energy in the short term, like caffeine, too much of it can cause the opposite effect. To help, make sure you’re keeping your gut happy by eating a mix of lean proteins, fats and complex carbs. Healthy snacks like fruits, protein bars and dark chocolate in small amounts are also a great pick-me-up between meals!
If all else fails and you have the ability to take a quick (15 to 30 minutes) nap, do that. Short daytime naps have been shown to reduce sleepiness, make you more alert and improve memory retention. Just make sure to set an alarm, because longer naps will likely make you more tired instead.
Photo by Camille Brodard on Unsplash
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