If you find yourself yawning and feeling more than a little tired after lunch, you are not alone. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 20 percent of Americans experience considerable fatigue at work.
A variety of factors can cause mid-day lethargy, and some of the most common include: consuming too much caffeine or sugar earlier in the day, not eating enough fruits and vegetables or healthy food, eating a diet that is too low in calories, experiencing chronic high-stress levels, and not getting enough sleep.
Some perfectly healthy people also experience midday fatigue, which occurs simply because our bodies are programmed to release a small amount of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin between 2 pm and 4 pm. Luckily there is a simple solution — if you want to prevent the mid-day slump, all you have to do is add one of the following snacks to your afternoon regime.
Healthy Food – Not Just Fruits and Vegetables, Either
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are loaded with healthy fats to fuel your brain, fiber to balance your blood sugar and satisfy your appetite, and vitamins to keep you healthy and energized, and it doesn’t hurt that they are delicious! Although they are nutritional powerhouses, nuts and seeds are notoriously high in calories, so limiting your intake to one ounce per day is best.
Organic Yogurt and Unsweetened Granola
Mixing yogurt with unsweetened granola is a perfect midday snack – the yogurt provides protein and probiotics (which scientists are now linking to both physical and mental health). The granola provides complex carbohydrates that will provide your brain with an extended fuel source.
Just be sure to choose organic yogurt because the regular stuff is often loaded with artificial ingredients, as well as hormone and antibiotic residues. Also, keep your serving of granola small because, similar to nuts and seeds, granola is very calorie-dense.
Fruits and Vegetables
Although all fruits and vegetables fall into the healthy food category, some are more energizing than others. Fruits such as apples, oranges, kiwis, guavas and berries, and deep orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes and carrots are ideal for a midday snack because they provide your brain with healthy sugars and your body with energy-boosting vitamin C.
Brown Rice Wrapped in Seaweed
Brown rice is a good source of fiber and minerals, and the carbohydrates in it provide your body with a natural source of energy to get you through the day. Adding seaweed will enhance the energy-boosting effect because seaweed contains a healthy dose of iron and B-vitamins, both of which energize the body and the brain.
It also contains iodine which nourishes the thyroid (an organ that plays a starring role in energy production.) As an added bonus, both brown rice and seaweed are low in calories, making this combination ideal for weight loss.
Last but certainly not least is the microalgae Spirulina. Spirulina is loaded with antioxidants, protein, iron, and vitamin C, all of which help to boost energy levels. It is most often sold in powdered form at health food stores, and all you have to do is add some water and drink up.
Instead of a coffee, try almond milk in a smoothie or straight up to help with a midday slump. Many brands of unsweetened almond milk have no added sugar and are fortified with vitamins B12 and B2.
As part of a balanced diet, these vitamins play important roles in helping your body unlock and use the energy from your food. In addition to the energy-boosting vitamins, extra fluid is a must. Staying hydrated is crucial to help us keep working at our best, but it is something many of us forget!
While water should always be the top priority, mixing it with plant milk is good to get those extra nutrients. Give almond milk a try next time you need an afternoon pick-me.
Bananas are a great source of carbohydrates and vitamin B6, making them an ideal snack to help you stay energized throughout the day. Carbohydrates are essential for providing your body with energy, and vitamin B6 helps convert those carbohydrates into energy that can be used by your cells.
Vitamin B6 also helps reduce tiredness and fatigue, making it an ideal mid-afternoon treat. In addition to being a great source of energy, bananas are also packed with other nutrients like potassium and fiber. So, not only will they help you power through your afternoon, but they’ll also help you stay healthy and fit.
When that afternoon slump hits, you may be tempted to raid the breakroom for some leftover birthday cake. However, there is a better option for those looking for a quick pick-me-up: dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, which improve blood flow. Greater blood flow means more oxygen to the brain, fighting fatigue and improving overall function.
In addition, dark chocolate has moderate amounts of caffeine, providing an additional boost of energy. So, next time you need a little something to get you through the afternoon, reach for a piece of dark chocolate instead of that slice of cake. Your body will thank you for it.
Lifestyle Changes to Beat the Mid-Day Slump
Eat a Nutritious Breakfast
A nutritious breakfast is the foundation of a good day. Breakfast provides the energy and nutrients you need to power through your morning activities and make healthy choices throughout the day.
Unfortunately, many people struggle to find the time to eat breakfast every morning. Skipping breakfast can make you more likely to overeat later in the day as your body tries to make up for the missed meal. This can cause fatigue and negatively impact your productivity. The best type of breakfast includes a whole grain product and some protein.
Avoid the Caffeine Temptation
Caffeine is a stimulant that can positively and negatively affect the human body. When consumed in moderation, caffeine can improve mental alertness and physical performance. However, drinking too much caffeine can lead to problems such as insomnia and anxiety.
For this reason, it is essential to be aware of the potential risks of consuming caffeine before deciding whether or not to include it in your diet. After 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon, the body’s circadian rhythm begins to prepare for sleep. Consuming caffeine at this time can disrupt this process and make it difficult to fall asleep at night. If you must have caffeine, it is best to consume only a small amount, such as a cup of hot tea.
Hydrate for Energy
When it comes to drinks, the first thing you should always reach for is water. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, and even if you think you’re drinking enough water, you probably aren’t. Drinking a glass of water – plain or sparkling – can help give you the energy you need to power through your afternoon slump.
If you find regular water boring, try flavored sparkling water. It is a healthier alternative to sugary drinks, but it’s also a great way to refresh with extra health benefits. If you’re not a fan of the bubbles, try making your own flavored water using sliced fruits or herbs.
Get Some Exercise
Increasing your energy levels doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes, the quickest and most straightforward solution is the best one. If you feel sluggish and run down, a little bit of exercise can be just the thing you need to get going again.
Just a few minutes of physical activity can help to increase blood flow and oxygen levels, giving you the boost you need to power through the rest of your day. And unlike some other energy-boosting solutions (such as caffeine), exercise provides a sustained increase in energy levels rather than a quick jolt that quickly fades away. So, next time you’re feeling tired, don’t reach for another cup of coffee- head to the nearest gym instead.
Going outside is often recommended as a way to improve your mental health. Spending time in nature can help reduce stress and anxiety, and it can also boost your mood. However, there is another reason to make time for a daily walk or hike: exposure to sunlight.
Sunlight is essential for regulating your circadian rhythms, and getting outside during the day can help keep your body on a healthy sleep schedule. In addition, sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D, which is essential for bone health. So, next time you’re feeling run down, remember that a bit of time in the sun could be just what you need.
Listen to Music
Most people are familiar with the idea that music can affect our mood. We often choose to listen to upbeat music to feel more energized or calming music when we want to relax. But did you know that music can also be used to help improve our cognitive performance when feeling a mid-day slump?
Studies have shown that the right type of music can help us focus and concentrate while also reducing stress and anxiety. For example, a study by the University of Maryland found that students who listened to classical music before taking a test performed better than those who did not listen to any music at all. So, if you’re looking for a way to boost your productivity or just want to feel calmer and more focused, consider adding some music to your routine