Whether you’re working in a corporate office, on your feet all day in an active job or have the luxury of working from home, no-one is immune to experiencing the odd afternoon slump. Thanks to our internal circadian rhythms, it’s natural to feel more energy - or less - at certain times of the day.
The biggest dips in our natural body clocks occur between 2am and 4am (yes, that’s why you tend to head home from the club around this time!) and after lunch between 1pm and 3pm (hence why some countries in Southern Europe strongly support having siesta naps - which we’re all about).
While there’s no way to beat your circadian rhythm or be 100% energised all the time, there are simple things you can do in your day to day life to beat that afternoon slump and get the most out of life.
It’s common knowledge that a nice hot cup of coffee can perk you up thanks to its caffeine content, but studies suggest the best time to have your cuppa is between 10am and 12 noon or 2pm and 5pm, when there’s a dip in our natural energy levels. Consuming a hot or cold brew during these windows can help to maintain balanced energy levels throughout the day.
Move Your Body
When you hit that afternoon low, you might be tempted to sneak in a little nap, but one study showed that 10 minutes of light to moderate exercise (like a brisk walk around the block) to be just as effective, if not more than downing 50mg of caffeine.
Get your Zzz’s
There’s no doubt that not getting enough sleep can wreak havoc on your energy levels throughout the day and having too much sleep can be just as bad. Adults are recommended to get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night, and it’s not just the amount of sleep that matters, but the quality. Spend an hour before bed each night reducing excess stimulation (like bright lights, social media and television) so you have a better chance of nodding off early and staying asleep throughout the night. When you first wake up, open your blinds to allow natural sunlight in as this will help your body ‘wake up’ naturally.
Ditch The Sugar
As tempting as it might be to crack open a can of soft drink or devour a slab of chocolate to perk you up in the afternoon, these are sure fire ways to do the exact opposite. Foods and drinks with processed sugars might give you a boost of energy initially, but they can impact your blood sugar and cause you to experience what’s known as a ‘sugar crash’. If you’re craving something sweet, opt for a piece of fruit or some berries. These are packed with natural sugars and fibre and won’t leave you feeling groggy half an hour later.
Up to 60% of our body is made up of water, so it’s no surprise that we need to keep adequately hydrated in order to reach our full energy potential each day. However, studies have shown that even slight dehydration can have a negative effect on our mood and overall energy. You’ve probably heard that we should drink at least eight glasses of water a day, which is a good rule of thumb. Men should aim for at least 3.7 litres of water a day while women should try to drink around 2.7 litres.
Feel The Sunshine
Remember that good old circadian rhythm we’ve spoken about? As it turns out, it can be influenced by the sun (which is why we get sleepy at night and struggle to snooze in broad daylight). So if you’re in need of an afternoon pick-me-up, step outside and soak up that sunshine. You’ll also top up your Vitamin D levels to energise you even further.
Stretch It Out
Do you ever feel the need to have a big stretch the first thing after you wake up? When we’re sleeping (or sitting in an office chair all day) our muscles can tighten up and our blood flow is reduced, so doing a few light stretches like laying on your back and rolling your knees from side to side or stretching up and over your body (one arm at a time) can wake your muscles up and get that circulation going.