Most of us have experienced the midafternoon slump ‒ when 3pm rolls around and you can barely keep your eyes open. You find yourself dozing off at your desk, and mustering up the concentration to do work is nearly impossible. Many people may go for another cup of coffee or a high-sugar snack to boost energy levels, but there are steps you can take to prevent this fatigue in the first place.
Eight Tips to Maintain Energy Levels All Day
1. Soak up some sunlight.
Exposure to natural light plays a large role in regulating our circadian rhythm. Start your day off on the right foot by opening your blinds in the morning or going out for an early walk. Getting natural light tells your body it’s time to begin the day.
Melatonin – the hormone that promotes sleepiness – decreases in response to sunlight, and when you regulate your circadian rhythm, your melatonin production should be enough to promote restful sleep at the end (not the middle!) of the day. If you find yourself slowing down in the afternoon, getting a few more minutes of sunlight in the morning can give you the boost you need.
2. Start your day with protein.
As delicious as breakfast cereals are, most of them don’t offer the substantial amount of protein required for a motivating start to your day. Protein provides amino acids that your brain needs to function at its optimal level all day long. Choosing more protein in the morning also helps ward off an afternoon blood sugar crash.
3. Take a multivitamin.
If you’re struggling with daytime drowsiness, you may have one or more nutritional deficiencies. People who have iron, vitamin B12, or vitamin D deficiencies often find themselves fatigued. Sometimes this can be solved by taking a daily multivitamin ‒ but if you suspect you’re deficient, speak with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplements or medications.
4. Stay hydrated.
Fatigue is often one of the first symptoms of dehydration – and if you’ve had only caffeinated drinks all day, you’re likely dehydrated. Not drinking enough water can cause your blood pressure to drop, which reduces blood flow to the brain and results in drowsiness.
5. Maintain a healthy sleep schedule.
Getting enough sleep at night can also help strengthen your circadian rhythm, preventing drowsiness in the afternoon. Healthy sleep practices include getting enough sleep (seven to nine hours each night, for adults); keeping a regular bedtime; and practicing good sleep hygiene, which means avoiding electronics before bedtime and making your bedroom a dark, cool, sleep-inducing environment.
6. Limit your caffeine intake.
Though it can seem like the answer to your drowsy prayers, upping your caffeine intake to beat the midday slump is counterproductive. While it may give you a short burst of energy, you’ll ultimately end up being more dehydrated and starting the cycle over again. If you absolutely must have a caffeinated drink, opt for black coffee, espresso, green tea, or other drinks with few or no added sugars.
7. Have a healthy lunch.
And while it can be tempting to work through lunch, says writer and trainer Carly Schuna, a midday meal “reenergizes your body and can raise blood sugar levels when focus and concentration are flagging.” Even grabbing something healthy from a fast-food restaurant is better than waiting until evening to eat.
8. Optimize your workday
To optimize your workday, the first things you should tackle are highest-priority tasks like critical deadlines, assignments, and projects. We have only a finite amount of cognitive energy each day, and starting the morning by slogging through emails wastes time that could be spent more productively.
The Bottom Line
Maintaining good sleep health, eating right, moving your body, and generally treating yourself well are all ways to keep your energy levels up. The midday slump is common, but that doesn’t mean it should simply be accepted!
Health Coaches emphasize holistic health beyond what’s on the plate. One of IIN’s core concepts is primary food, the idea that there are areas of your life that impact your short-term and long-term health just as much as the food you eat ‒ such as your relationships, career, spirituality, physical activity, and environment.
If you’re looking for other strategies to combat fatigue and boost your energy levels, Health Coaches can offer guidance and advice. Coaches work with clients to help them discover how to fuel their bodies, live a healthy lifestyle, and find the best wellness and health routines that work for them.