We can all feel it coming. That inner dialogue that happens at around 2.30pm everyday that goes something like this: Wow, a nap would be amazing right now...Oh, no wait I have hat report to finish up...but a nap on my desk seems far more urgent....RING RING...wake up, wake up, wake up!
What is it that is sabotaging our afternoon productivity and stopping us from leaving the office with our to-do lists completed? Here are a few of the common culprits and some easy-to-implement survival tips to overcome the infamous Afternoon Slump.
1. Keep glucose levels stable - Taking in large amounts of sugar and carbohydrates will cause a surge in insulin which will flood your brain with seretonin that prepares your brain for sleep. To avoid this you will need eat many small meals rather than one large lunch However, the contents of the meal are just as important as its size. Stock your bag and drawers with low GI snacks that can be eaten throughout the day (eg. carrot sticks, unsalted nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit) as opposed to hitting the vending machine at 2pm for your usual high GI snacks (eg. crisps, chocolate bar, can of coca-cola). You should also avoid alcohol and remember your daily caffeine limit so that you do not have a disrupted night's sleep.
Another tip is to take sips of cold water or chew on crunchy, healthy foods as the oral stimulation will help keep you from nodding off.
2. Get a good night's rest every night - If you have had a poor night's sleep you will run out of steam by mid-afternoon. If you have missed out on your regular 7.5 - 9 hours sleep then be proactive. Take a tea or lunch break nap to refuel. Sleeping for as little as 10 minutes has great benefits.
3. Get some fresh air after your meal - After you eat, your blood is channeled towards your digestive system and away from your brain making you feel drowsy. Take a walk around the building (or even better around the block) to get the blood more equally distributed. The time away from your desk and the increased oxygen should boost your concentration and productivity. Physical exercise will also help make you fitter and stronger as well as sleep better. All this adds up to having more energy and endurance for the afternoons.
You may be thinking: 'Sounds great, but I don't have time to waste eating snacks, taking naps and going on a walk-about' but research shows that these activities actually promote overall productivity and long-term employee health. Invest and reap the benefits!