7 Ways to Beat the Afternoon Slump

By , Megan Patrick, Staff Writer
Afternoon fatigue (hitting around 2 or 3 p.m.) is very common, which is why some cultures embrace the afternoon nap. But if your office doesn't have a space for napping (or if your boss would frown on the practice), what can you do to prevent the afternoon slump?

1. Practice good sleep habits. Do you go to bed and get up at roughly the same times every day? You'll be less likely to get tired late in the day if you have a regular sleep schedule and get at least 8 hours of rest a night.

2. Eat a balanced diet. Eating a filling breakfast and lunch will help keep your energy levels stable throughout the day. If you start the day with a big cup of coffee and grab a bag of chips from the vending machine around noon, you're setting yourself up for afternoon exhaustion.

3. Eat some lean protein. A lunch that features lean protein and non-starchy vegetables will give you more energy than a high-fat, high-carb burger. At the same time, relying on a veggie-only salad as your midday meal will likely leave you feeling hungry and tired later in the day.

4. Have a snack. If your fatigue is accompanied by hunger, what you might need is a small, filling snack. Try whole-grain crackers and cheese or a handful of trail mix.

5. Drink some water. One of the first signs of dehydration is fatigue. While you should be sipping water all day, if you got busy and forgot, down a big glass. Add a slice of citrus for a bright smell that can also make you feel more energized.

6. Go for a walk. If you've been sitting at your desk staring at a computer for more than an hour, it's time to get up and move. If you don't want to walk outside, make it a point to walk around the building or go talk to a co-worker instead of sending an email.

7. Rule out other medical conditions. If you've tried all the traditional remedies for the afternoon slump and nothing seems to help, it's time to see your doctor to rule out conditions that can cause fatigue, including pre-diabetes.

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CECELW 2/12/2019
Common sense tips for sure Report
Some great suggestions, I am lacking in doing some of the suggestions. Report
KHALIA2 7/21/2018
Great tips! Thanks! Report
thanks Report
great tips Report
Nice ideas to keep the afternoon going. Report
An afternoon workout/walk usually works for me. Report
Good tips! Report
For those of us who exercise vigorously earlier in the day...thirst may not be the only problem, but a reduction in electrolytes is possible. A half dose of Gatorade or other electrolyte supplement may help get over that 3pm slump! Report
Carb crash is the number one reason for post-lunch sleepiness. Your insulin and blood sugar levels spike after those fries and chips and buns (the burger and cheese and lettuce and tomato are just fine), and then crash a couple of hours later. Keep your insulin levels steady and your blood sugar levels steady and no PM naptime needed! Report
Great tips! Report
I usually feel tired after lunch, I used to nap, it was usually the best sleep I got, but lately even that has proved elusive. Sleep is very difficult for me. Report
I think we could all lose the judgment and respect that people are different in their approaches to wellness. The afternoon slump is a normal physiological response. How you deal with it may not work for everyone. I limit carbs, yet I still get a little sleepy in the afternoon and I can assure you I am not eating high fat, cholesterol laden foods, pasta or hamburger buns. I think it's great that some of you have found what works for you. I have yet to find my miracle cure. Report
I'm pretty active, and I mostly eat food made from scratch. I don't keel over after lunch.

People are conufsed by the constant stream of nutrition information they receive, much of which appears to contradict what they've been told previously. The sad part is, we're losing a lot of those people. They've grown weary of hearing absolutes.

No, it's not hard to cook real food and to be prepared. But I know people for whom that idea is overwhelming. Perhaps they never learned to cook, or never had a healthy-living role model. While we'd be healthier if we never ate processed food, it's unrealistic to expect people will change ingrained behavior and quit cold turkey (absent some live-altering event like a reallys cary conversation with your doctor). But anyone can start making small changes, such as picking one day a week with no processed food.

The reason I said it's better to eat junk than skip a meal entirely is that many people over-indulge at their next meal if they skip one. But, as I said, we are all different and I trust people's ability to judge what works for them. Although I prefer science to anecdotes, if something works for me, I'm going to continue with it.

Perhaps the bigger issue that too many people are so out-of-touch with their bodies that they no longer reconize whether some foods have negative or positive impacts on their general well-being. Many of us don't really even know what true hunger feels like because, as you mentioned, most of us eat when we're told to.

I do appreciate your distinction between "carbs" and "empty carbs"/sugar. I frequently see people take about eating low-carb or no-carb, which would mean they're eating nothing but protein and fat. Poor vegetables! They don't deserve to be lumped into the same category as Oreos. (And I decided some time ago I'd rather die than give up white rice, glycemic index be damned.) Report
This site is nothing but proselytizing, it's just that much of it is mainstream dogma that fails the people who need it most--ie, those who are overweight and struggle with appetite and low energy. Better to eat crap than skip a meal? Why? Eat real food when hungry. How hard is it to pan-fry a steak, boil or scramble a few eggs, throw together a salad, eat a piece of fruit or keep some nuts/jerky in your desk? Modern processed food is geared to convenience, but if you're motivated, a little preparation avoids these "binds". As for "skipping," there's no empirical basis for set mealtimes, or continual snacking, only social convention.

I put my suggestion out there not as the One True Path, but as an alternative that most people used to conventional dieting are too scared to try, because OMG, saturated fat and meat and cholesterol! etc etc,. You can cavil about anecdotal vs well-controlled scholarly studies, but if you're one of these people who keels over after your bagel-powered lunch, then the most efficient course is to try something different & plausible and see it if works sustainably. Your N=1 experiment will be "anecdotal" and yet it will be the only result that really matters. If it doesn't get you where you want to be, then by all means move on to something else. Report
Enough with the proselytizing, folks. It's fine if eating a certain way works for you, and I'm willing to listen to your opinion, but please recognize that you're talking about anecdotal evidence, not empirical evidence. The fact that eating a certain way works for you does not mean it will work for everyone else. Respect the fact that we are the best judges of what works for us, and we should listen to and trust our bodies.

I think the one thing we can all agree on is that we're healthier if we eat more "real" food and less processed food. But I also recognize that in a bind, it's better to eat something - even if it's crap - than to skip a meal altogether. And I know that some people lack the time or the skill to prepare every meal themselves. So you'll get no judgment for me. Report
Again with the lean protein & wholegrainz... Look, the fat in a burger has absolutely nothing to do with afternoon fatigue--it's the freaking wheat-laden bun, plus the whole-grain snack recommended in the very next bullet point, plus all the damn cereal and OJ and other sugary stuff you probably had for breakfast, that oh-so-"important" meal.

That 2 pm slump is a product of the insulin rollercoaster fueled by empty carbs. Try on the habit of skipping sugar+grains & eating protein and fat when you're truly hungry (not before) and you will be amazed at the consistency of your high energy level throughout the day and the freedom from the constant urges to snack, snack, snack on yet more carbs. If you're carrying excess body fat like many insulin-resistant people, you'll likely be able to go all day without hunger if you allow yourself to start burning those reserves in earnest. Report
why avoid? just take the nap your body is asking for. then take the walk, snack... Report
It's carb slump. Eat pasta at 12, snooze at 2. Your blood sugar is in roller coaster mode. Eat lower carb and your energy levels stay nice and steady at the high end of the range. Burn fat not sugar! Report
I definitely need this... definitely going to try. Report
I go for a quick walk outdoors. Report
I'd definitely like to see more ideas on this since I seem to fall asleep every afternoon. I have times when I do something outside that I will be awake all day and others even that doesn't help. Just being outside is the best wake-up for me, though. Report
Itake a nap! Then, I have the energy I need for the rest of the day. Report
I usually take a walk after lunch even it's for 10 minutes. The outdoors perks me up. Report
Well if I can make until coffee I am OK as I only have a bit more than a half hour to work after. Report
Walk around or run in place. Listening to upbeat music helps me also. Thanks for sharing! Report
I experience a mid-afternoon slump when I haven't been drinking enough water. Brain research shows that even mild dehydration slows down the brain. Report
so funny, because I usually have the mid-morning slump. usually right after breakfast - the only thing that can WAKE me up is my favorite songs or being on the computer.

if I'm super exhausted, I just take a nap while hubby referees the kidz hehe Report
Having raised five children, I learned to take a nap in the afternoon when they did and I felt better for the rest of the evening. Report