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Most Effective Ways to Overcome the Post-Lunch Dip in Energy

Most Effective Ways to Overcome the Post-Lunch Dip in Energy

You know the feeling – it’s early afternoon and you are doing everything you can to fight off yawns and avoid microsleeps.

We all naturally experience a midday slump, and it’s due to fluctuations in our internal circadian rhythms. For most people, this dip occurs between 2:00 p.m and 4:00 p.m. During this time, your body temperature decreases and alertness also declines. This flux leaves many people yawning at their desks after lunch and reaching for an extra cup of coffee or sugary pick-me-up. Although the post-lunch dip in energy has biological roots, there are a few ways you can help yourself stay focused and alert through the afternoon by choosing smarter foods and incorporating a few energy-boosting habits into your routine.

1. Choose smarter foods.

Sugary foods and simple carbs can provide a short burst of energy, but may leave you yawning again in no time. On the other hand, foods with protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates preserve energy for hours. The idea is to maintain blood glucose levels in order to minimize your energy dip. Here are few smart foods to have on hand for afternoon snacks:

  • Protein rich snacks like boiled eggs, cheese, turkey, smoked salmon or almonds.
  • Chocolate, particularly flavanol-rich dark chocolate or even low-sugar cacao nibs.
  • Apples, oranges and blueberries are also rich in flavonoids and easy to bring along.
  • Staying hydrated with plenty of plain water helps boost alertness.
  • Green tea and black tea are rich in energy-boosting compounds including caffeine.

Other tips include eating a breakfast rich in healthy carbohydrates which helps sustain energy throughout the day, and avoiding overeating at lunch which can contribute to drowsiness.

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Dark Chocolate

    2. Take a very short nap after lunch.

    Napping is an effective way to boost energy in the afternoon, if it’s done right. If your goal is to overcome drowsiness, the ideal midday nap is between 10 and 20 minutes. Longer naps can actually make you feel more drowsy upon waking, so its best to keep them short.

    Take your nap during the time you usually feel tired if possible, making sure to set an alarm so you’ll definitely wake up. Once up, do some quick stretching or jumping jacks and drink some water to get energized. If you are partial to caffeine, studies suggest consuming it before your short nap for the best effects.

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    Cat Nap

      3. Get moving or take a walk if you feel tired.

      Sitting at a desk for hours can also contribute to drowsiness, and boredom as well. During your afternoon slump, make it a point to get the blood flowing with a little activity every so often. A walk outside in the sunshine might be best, but even a jaunt to the water-cooler, running in place or jumping jacks for a few minutes can all be beneficial for alertness. Periodic activity could have other health benefits for sedentary workers, too.

      Walking In Office

        4. Have a sweater or jacket at your desk if you feel cold.

        An internal temperature drop is a key part of the circadian pattern that contributes to the post-lunch energy dip. Keep a sweater or jacket around to warm yourself back up and fight the yawns, especially if your workplace is on the cooler side.

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        Colorful Sweaters

          5. Keep rooms brightly lit or sit by a window.

          Light also plays a role in circadian rhythms, and getting plenty of natural sunlight in the afternoon can be helpful for limiting drowsiness and for normalizing sleep schedules as well. Sit by a window if you can, or keep your workspace brightly lit if there are no windows nearby. Dimmer rooms can make nodding off harder to resist.

          Office With A Window

            6. Get a good laugh in.

            Another instant way to fight mental fatigue is to simply laugh. Laughter engages mood and cognition-boosting chemicals in your brain, helping you feel better, less stressed and feel more alert. Take a look your favorite funny YouTube videos, browse quiet giggle-inducing GIFs, or share a funny story with colleagues – all in the name of productivity.

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              7. Practice good sleep habits at night.

              Sleeping well at night and practicing good sleep hygiene also helps avoid daytime fatigue. Make sure you are allowing yourself adequate sleep time every night (at least seven hours for most adults), and try to stick to a regular sleep and wake schedule every day. An evening routine with sleep-friendly habits can also help.

              Time for Sleep

                Though some of these tips may seem a little counterintuitive, science shows that energy-boosting foods, activity, light, naps and even laughter can work to counteract your body’s natural afternoon dip in energy. Naps and activity breaks in particular can actually make people even more productive and creative, boosting alertness and contributing to physical and mental health. Now there’s no excuse not take a siesta and jump around at work!

                Share: What do you do to get through the post-lunch dip in energy? Have you tried any of the hacks above?

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                Last Updated on March 23, 2021

                Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

                Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

                One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

                The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

                You need more than time management. You need energy management

                1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

                How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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                I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

                I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

                2. Determine your “peak hours”

                Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

                Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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                My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

                In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

                Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

                3. Block those high-energy hours

                Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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                Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

                If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

                That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

                There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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                Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

                Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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