Stave Off the SlumpStatesman Journal Living Well - June 2015
It's 3 p.m. The sun is warm through the window, your eyelids droop and your mind starts to wander....
It's the mid-day slump, and you may be hard-wired for it.
Many processes in our body are governed by our circadian rhythm, a natural ebb and flow of functions such as body temperature, hormone levels, blood pressure, appetite and alertness throughout the day and night. These levels are based on a 24-hour clock that coincide with your sleep/wake schedule and provide energy when you need it most. We naturally experience a dip in these functions when we sleep, which makes sense; but studies show another, smaller dip in the early afternoon. Researchers aren't sure why, but surmise that it's an evolutionary leftover.
So, even though your unchangeable internal body clock may be largely to blame for the lethargy you feel in the afternoon, you can prevent it from interfering with your productivity by participating in activities that help you recharge and reduce its sluggish effects.
- Get your beauty sleep. It seems obvious, but getting enough sleep every night is vital to your functioning through the day.
- Eat breakfast. Your mom was right: Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. A balance of protein and carbohydrates puts you on track for sustained energy throughout your day rather than peaks and valleys.
- Think Balance with lunch. Skip the overly starchy favorites in favor of something a little more balanced. Choose a mix of low-fat protein, moderate amounts of carbohydrates and veggies such as grilled chicken over salad with a whole grain roll.
- Drink water. Dehydration can cause sleepiness, so be sure to sip water throughout the day. Everyone has different water requirements but, eight, 8 oz. glasses every day is a good rule of thumb.
However, sometimes even our best efforts can't prevent that familiar eyelid droop. When you feel the slump coming on, use these tools to jumpstart your afternoon.
- Get moving. A short brisk walk gets the blood flowing and a change of scenery – even if you're walking in your office building – can do wonders for your mind. Try standing up every time you answer the phone.
- Stretch. A quick stretch provides a boost of energy and it just feels good.
- Skip sugar sweetened beverages. Instead of reaching for a soda, try green tea or water. Sugar-sweetened beverages do not provide a feeling of fullness, which at the end of the day will affect our caloric intake and blood-glucose levels.
- Snack on protein. Skip the vending machine and instead snack on an ounce of light cheese or a handful of nuts for slow-burning calories.
- Avoid Caffeine Backfire. Don't be seduced by that double espresso. Caffeine stimulates your body to produce additional levels of adrenaline and dopamine, which can contribute to increased feelings of energy. However, when these chemical levels begin to drop, you can experience fading energy. There's your slump.
With a little planning, you can reduce the Midday Slump to a mere speed bump.