You have a lot to finish today, don’t you?
Your eyelids are getting heavy.
You stifle a yawn (then ten!).
The world is turning a bit fuzzy around the corners.
You have been bitten by the afternoon slump.
Also known as the post-lunch energy dip, it hits most of us in most offices usually between 2-3 pm (The National Health Service, UK, puts the timing at a precise 2.16 pm!) and leaves us feeling tired and grumpy.
Who’s to blame?
Don’t blame your lunch though, it can even nab people who skip that meal.
The body’s circadian rhythm or biological clock hitting a natural low is the usual culprit.
Our circadian rhythm makes the brain drowsy every 7-9 hours. By midday, you have been awake for over 7 hours. So there is a tendency to feel sleepy and less alert.
Need a midday pick-me-up?
Here are 8 ways to Clobber your Afternoon Slump:
1. Pull up your socks
While most of you may turn towards the java jolt to keep awake till the end of the day, Greg Go believes that pulling on a new pair of socks does the trick better.
Go, co-author of 10,001 Ways To Live Large On A Small Budget, believes that changing your socks in the middle of the day (after a lunch break or a tedious meeting, for instance) will leave you feeling fresh and awake.
To remain on your toes longer, rub one foot with the other for a few minutes before putting on the socks. Massaging releases endorphins, the body’s fatigue-fighting hormones, and provides instant alertness.
Want a bigger boost?
2. Hit the gym
Leaving your cubicle to take a fast walk, or a quick spin on a stationary bike, will make you feel renewed and ready to continue to work, writes Judith J. Wurtman, PhD and co-author of The Serotonin Power Diet.
3. Chat up a co-worker
If your office atmosphere seems averse to midday push-ups or it’s difficult to sneak away from your desk, try the friendly banter. Walk to a colleague’s desk or the water cooler and indulge in 10-15 minutes of random chit-chat! It is a great pick-me-up for your tired mind.
4. Sniff a lemon
A 2008 study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology (whew!), shows that a whiff of the crisp scent is enough to give the boost in mood that we need to clobber that afternoon fatigue.
5. Warm up (the cockles of your heart and office!)
A 2004 ergonomics study, Linking Environmental Conditions To Productivity, by Cornell University, US, found that when temperatures in an office were kept at a warm 25 degrees Celsius, employees were 44% more productive than when it was kept at around 20 degrees Celsius.
Right before you go to sleep, your body temperature begins to fall, signalling the brain to release the melatonin hormone, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle. A similar thing happens in the afternoons, albeit on a smaller scale.
“Keeping our office warm has increased the team’s productivity, especially during afternoons,” says Ankit Oberoi, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of AdPushup, a company that helps Web publishers optimize their online ad revenue.
6. If the heat isn’t on you, relax and chew gum.
A 2013 study, titled Effects Of Chewing On Cognitive Processing Speed, published in the Brain And Cognition journal, suggests that chomping on a wad of gum can enhance your alertness. Chewing increases heart rate which, in turn, increases blood flow to the brain.
7. Unleash those chords
No gum at hand? Don’t worry, grab your headphones and play your “power song”—a song that has the power to lift your mood. Within 3-4 minutes the right song can shake off your slumber and motivate you to take on the next task on your to-do list.
A study by Canada’s McGill University published in 2011 in the Nature Neuroscience journal, discovered that listening to good music enhances production of the pleasure chemical, dopamine, in the brain. Dopamine is also good at keeping you wide awake.
For me, Avril Lavigne’s Anything But Ordinary works best!
8. Put Joe on the job
If the craving for your regular cup of joe is still strong, use it to your advantage.
Take a coffee nap!
Here’s how: Drink a cup of coffee, then doze off for 15-20 minutes.
Caffeine takes about 20 minutes to reach your bloodstream and make you alert. Sleep, meanwhile, is known to clear your system of adenosine, a by-product of brain activity that makes you feel tired when it accumulates at high levels. In combination, they work as the perfect weapon against the midday slump.
If you can effectively beat the afternoon energy dip, you will be able to save 30-45 minutes of productive time every day.
Of course, there is a simple way of averting the slump even before it starts.
Take the advice of Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project: Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night!
Which one of these methods will you try today afternoon?