4 Ways to Beat Afternoon Fatigue

You know the feeling: heavy eyelids staring wearily at the clock that cruelly reads 3:00 p.m. Afternoon fatigue, otherwise known as the afternoon slump, is an all too common occurrence has become part of working life.

What's Causing Your Tired Eyes?

Disrupted sleep. Over 70 million Americans suffer from disorders of sleep and wakefulness according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The stress and anxieties of everyday life can cause hours of sleeplessness at night and low energy during the day.

Poor diet. A diet high in simple carbohydrates such as white bread and sugar can be disastrous for your energy levels. Foods such as these force your insulin levels to spike. And while your energy will be boosted temporarily, your blood sugar will soon drop resulting in a sugar crash.

Dehydration. When you're tired, you're more likely to reach for a cup of coffee, but you may just need a glass of water. A full night of sleep equals eight hours in which you are not hydrating. Add a morning and early afternoon without some water and you may reach as many as 12 hours. This type of dehydration can cause fatigue, anxiety, and irritability.

Stress. Sure, it's a part of everyday life and at times it can be motivating. For most, however, stress is physically and emotionally exhausting. When you're stressed, the body is in defense mode—excess cortisol and adrenaline is pumped into the blood stream. Over long periods of time, high stress levels will weaken the immune system and wreak havoc on your energy.

How to Overcome the Afternoon Slump

The last few hours at the office don't have to be a drag. Follow these steps to keep your pep:

1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. While the recommended intake of water is still a subject of debate, start your day off with a large glass of water and refill it throughout the day. Steer clear of sugary drinks and limit coffee.

2. Balance your diet. Ensure that your diet is rich with whole grains, lean protein, leafy greens, and antioxidants (which you can get from berries).  Rather that spiking your insulin and forcing the inevitable crash, a diet rich in essential nutrients will help you maintain consistent insulin levels.

3. Practice better sleeping habits. Simply changing your daily routine and creating a better sleep environment can solve many sleep issues:

  • Change your pillows and sheets
  • Remain consistent with your bedtime
  • Take a bath before bed
  • Avoid caffeine and exercise late in the day
  • Give up naps

4. Manage your stressors. If it's zapping your energy, it's time to make a change. Try mediation or yoga to calm the nerves and be more present in the moment. If yoga isn't your style, let out some stress at the gym. Not only will you be eliminating stressors, but you'll be burning calories as well.