Managing the Midday Slump
We’ve all experienced the seemingly unyielding wave of tiredness that tends to hit around midday, resulting in various extreme attempts to stay awake. Maybe the ‘I’m only resting my eyes’ excuse just won’t cut it anymore, or those cheeky naps behind the coffee machine are becoming all too frequent. Well never fear! There are several easy ways to manage the midday slump.
Address your Diet
According to Lona Sandon, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association1, it is our natural body clock which causes us to feel sleepy around midday. As our body temperature begins to fall in the afternoon, our brain receives this as a signal to release melatonin, which helps control our sleep cycles. However, this can be worsened by our eating habits, particularly by eating sugary food and simple carbohydrates, in other words: to avoid fatigue, we have to cut out all the good stuff. Simple sugars will cause blood sugar levels to rise, giving us that burst of energy we need. However, as blood sugar levels rise, the body produces insulin to bring it back down, which will ultimately cause an energy drop2. Not only is it important to watch what we eat, but what we’re drinking too. Dehydration causes tiredness, making a quick siesta all the more tempting. However, drinking a couple of litres of water a day should prevent this, whilst also doing wonders for your skin.
Consider your Surroundings
Fatigue isn’t only induced by our diet, but by our surroundings. Sitting at a desk all day can often cause that fateful boredom to set in. It takes longer for those who are bored to react to stimuli than those in an interesting environment3, which is why it’s so important to take a break every now and then. Going for a short walk round the office, or even better, outside, gets your blood circulating, and the increase in blood flow will stimulate your brain2. Alternatively, you could try stealing a colleague away for a chat (preferably someone whose conversation won’t send you to sleep!). This will keep you engaged, and hopefully dispel the sleepy haze.
There are certainly a few quick fixes for staying alert, one of which would be to chew gum. Researchers in the Psychology Department at Coventry University carried out several tests which showed that chewing gum limits levels of fatigue, as opposed to not chewing gum4. So when you’re rushing off to work tomorrow morning, be sure to grab a pack of gum. Another solution, although not quite so quick, is meditation. Meditating for fifteen minutes twice a day will give you that feeling of rejuvenation, as when you meditate you enter a psychological state not dissimilar from sleep. Your heart rate will be lower than it would usually be when sleeping, and in that sense you are giving your body an extremely large amount of rest in a short period of time2. However, if meditation isn’t an option, then stretching can be just as effective. When sitting for long periods of time you build up a number of waste products. These are removed by the lymphatic system, which can be stimulated by stretching. Whilst removing these waste products from your body, you will also be increasing the blood flow in your body, so essentially you’re getting a double whammy2.
So, when you’re off to work be sure to start the morning with a good breakfast, avoiding sugary foods. While it may be tempting to skip the first meal of the day, eating first thing will get you off to a good start, and after squeezing in a quick meditation session, grabbing that bottle of water and pack of gum, you should be able to make it through the day nap free.
Amber Callender is a Features Writer for CEO Magazine.