If you’re struggling to keep your eyelids open after your lunch break, you’re not alone. It’s not that you’re inherently lazy -- but rather, that during that time of day, your body’s circadian rhythms are telling you it’s time to rest. Still, you have work to do.
So what to do? Here are some ways to power through the afternoon.
Get enough sleep
If you’re not sleeping adequately at night, you’re bound to feel more tired during the day. While it’s normal for your body to want to rest about 7 hours after sleeping, it’s worse when you’re sleep-deprived. If you have trouble getting to sleep at night, avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and evening, and be sure you’re getting at least 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Skip the simple carbs at lunch
Sugary foods and simple carbohydrates like white bread or pizza are a sure way to feel sluggish after lunch. You don’t have to skip carbs all together, but aim for the fiber-filled, complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Pair that with lean protein and good fats and you’ll be taking strong steps toward a productive afternoon.
Get a few minutes of shuteye
It’s normal to feel sluggish after lunch, because of those circadian rhythms. Instead of fighting it, take some time out to rest on your lunch break. Instead of going out for lunch, bring a healthy snack for lunch, and then take 15 minutes of your lunch break to close your eyes and rest. When you’re done, you might be surprised at how refreshed you feel.
Plan for frequent short bursts of exercise
Track your habits and try to figure out when you tend to get the worst bouts of sleepiness. When you get it sorted out, plan for a quick bout of exercise right before that time. If you’re always sleepy at 2 p.m., take a 15-minute break at 1:45 and go for a walk around the building or do jumping jacks in your office. Sure, you’re taking 15 minutes out of the time you could be getting more work done, but when you get back to your desk, you’ll work more alertly.
Leave the mundane tasks for after lunch
Even when you’re making every effort to be alert and awake, chances are you’re just not going to be as productive or efficient in the afternoons. Nearly every worker has boring, repetitive tasks that need to be done on a regular basis -- and the times you’re feeling tired are the perfect times to do those tasks. In other words, schedule your day so that you’re doing your most important, thoughtful tasks in the mornings, leaving the more mundane stuff for later in the day.
A little caffeine is OK
Everyone is different, but for the most part, having a cup of tea or coffee in the early afternoon shouldn’t interrupt your sleep patterns -- and it can help you power through the day. Just don’t drink it in the later afternoon, and skip the sugary caffeinated beverages that come with a sugar rush, and then a sugar crash.
The afternoon slump might be inevitable, but by following these tips, you’ll probably find that it’s a lot easier to get through and be productive.
Image courtesy Reynermedia, Flickr