I see you, Sleeping Beauty. I also want you to know that your gentle nods, placid eyes, and melodious yawns don’t fool me. Afternoon slump can be hell, especially when you barely have enough hours in the day to finish everything you need to do.
Feeling extremely fatigued in the hours just after lunch is, thankfully, a common phenomenon, and easy to remedy. Here are a few things you can do.
Have a coffee nap. Yup, you don’t have to choose between having coffee and taking a nap, because having the two together is much more effective than just one.
Adenosine is a chemical compound that naturally builds up in your brain during the day – it’s the thing that makes you sleepy at night. When you sleep, your brain gets rid of the adenosine. Caffeine, on the other hand, takes 20 minutes to get absorbed by your bloodstream and reach your brain.
Therefore, if you take a nap for 15-20 minutes, you lessen the amount of adenosine that caffeine has to compete with. The result: maximum alertness.
Get some sun. There’s a reason that we work during the day and sleep during the night – it’s because our circadian rhythms follow the sun (or lack thereof). Think of it as biology’s elegant little way of allowing us to maximise the sun’s energy.
Even a few minutes of exposure to the sun, therefore, will signal your brain to wake up. Try doing a few stretches – you’ll be hitting two birds with one stone because you’ll be helping your back at the same time. Alternatively, you can just sit and quietly soak up the rays, or gallop on a horse for a few minutes (this last part, I thoroughly endorse).
Sniff on some peppermint. The brisk, clean smell is invigorating – it’ll remind you of wind blowing through trees. You can pour a few drops into your hand, rub them briskly to release the smell, and put it close to your face. You can also try some peppermint tea. Peppermint chocolate? Go for it – the sugar will boost your energy, too.
Alternatively, you can go to the bathroom and brush your teeth. Any minty toothpaste will do here, but may I interest you in something utterly delicious and luxurious? LEBON toothpaste is a French brand that’s not just good for your teeth – it’s also super good for the environment.
Call mum. One of two things will happen here. You will either feel really good about yourself for taking the time to reconnect, or she’ll get you so worked up, you’ll feel like you won’t be able to sleep for days. Either way, you at least made your mother happy. And hey, whatever it takes to wake you up, right?
Dance around. Everyone else around you is probably pretty close to crashing as well, so there’s a good chance that the office is pretty quiet. Break the monotony by putting on a few tunes. Working alone? That’s even better – turn up the music really high, kick off your heels, and dance. No one has to know.
Walking meeting. You’ve probably heard about how all that sitting at your desk is slowly killing you, so why not ask someone if they’d have that meeting with you while walking around? This is a good way to get in a few minutes of activity. On the plus side, someone else is benefitting!
Being in motion, having a change of scenery, and seeing things moving around you all help you get rid of the afternoon slump.
Avoid carbs. Think back to what you had for lunch. Was it a rich pasta with a side of garlic bread? That’s a good reason you’re sleepy right now. Carbohydrates give you a boost of energy when they enter your bloodstream, but the downside is that they leave you feeling weak and when you use them all up after a few hours. You may have heard of the ugly monster that is sugar crash – this is it.
This leads me to theorise that Snow White’s (another sleepy Disney princess) long sleep was really just a bad case of the afternoon slump. After all, apples are pretty high in sugar. What do you think?