This is the exact time of day you hit the post-lunch slump — and how to beat it
Eyelids feeling heavy? Try these tips to feel more alert this afternoon.
In the mornings, you’re ticking off your to-do list with ease, but come mid-afternoon, for some reason, all you want to do is nap.
Most of us will be familiar with the post-lunch slump. It’s a very real lack of energy that can make doing any work feel like swimming through treacle.
And now, a new study has found exactly when it hits: 2.36pm.
A study of 2,000 adults found that we actually suffer an average of three energy slumps in a day, with 12% of respondents claiming to experience their first one before 9am.
The impact on work and productivity is clear. The research showed that 12% have even fallen asleep in a meeting and 10% have made a mistake at work.
It’s also caused 21% to cry, and 19% have argued with their partner. Others admitted to cancelling a social engagement (19%), forgetting they were meant to be somewhere (16%) or shouting at their children (15%).
Almost half of the people surveyed said they have no idea how to avoid the energy loss – turning to coffee (37%), sugary snacks (105) and loud music (12%) to perk them up.
But there are things you can do – apart from heading to bed – that can help.
Nutritionist and mental health advocate Rosie Millen has teamed up with Vitabiotics Feroglobin, who commissioned the research, to share her top tips for beating the slump.
Rosie said: ‘We’ve all been there. Some of us more than others. And when it hits, it hits hard.
‘We all know the obvious solutions on hand – exercise, have a cup coffee or take a nap.
“But what are some of the more unconventional hacks at our fingertips that can also help bring you out of your energy lull and allow you to get on with your day.’
Rosie's top tips for beating the post-lunch slump
- Watch cute cat videos. A good tip for your lunch break. Believe it or not, watching cat videos can have a profound effect on your mood and energy levels. A study from the Indiana University Media School of 7,000 people found that watching cat videos not only improves your mood but also decreases stress and re-energises you for when you return to your work.
- Eat an iron rich snack. You need iron to carry oxygen to the muscles and organs in the body. When iron levels are low, this can contribute to fatigue. So make sure you get some iron rich snacks every day to keep your levels up. Good recommendations include dried fruit and pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate and houmous with chopped veg.
- Chew gum. A study from the journal of physiology and behaviour found that chewing gum increases blood flow to the brain which in turn improves alertness.
- Grab a colouring in book. Again, we’d advise waiting for your lunch break before grabbing the crayons, but not only does colouring in alleviate stress and reduce anxiety it is also acts as a full brain workout for your neurologic system. While colouring, you use the parts of your brain (the frontal lobe) that enhances focus and concentration. Certain colours, such as yellow and orange, are also thought to increase energy.
- Make a playlist. Music has an incredible impact on our mood and can absolutely transform your energy levels even in a short space of time. Just popping in your earphones and blasting your favourite song alters brainwaves and improves cognitive performance. New research from the British Academy of Sound Therapy found that after listening to music for just nine minutes, 65% of test subjects reported they were happier and laughed more, 89% had improved energy levels and 82 per cent felt more in control of their lives. So, get a playlist ready before you start to crash.
- Turn up the lights. If you can, make sure your lights are bright. The high colour temperature of bright and cool lights triggers the release of serotonin, which makes us more alert and energetic. Results of a study with 52 test subjects showed that people felt more alert and energised after having been exposed to bright light. Stepping out into the sunshine is also a gamechanger if you’re able to. The effects of vitamin D and energy are well documented. Fatigue is one of the main symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.
- Spray your favourite perfume. A lot of clinical research supports claims that certain essential oils increase energy and relieve fatigue. Peppermint oil, for example, is effective for preventing fatigue and improving exercise performance. And eucalyptus is thought to awaken the mind and increase mental clarity. You can either inhale essential oils directly or spray a perfume with them in – but check it’s okay with your colleagues first.
- Have a ginger shot. Ginger is a natural energy booster and may be able to give you the kick you are looking for mid-afternoon. Studies suggest it has stimulatory effects. Just make sure you go for as fresh as possible without any added sugar.
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