Afternoon energy slump describes the sleepy, tired and/or sluggish feeling that comes on in the afternoon, often between of 1pm and 3pm.
Symptoms can include any or all of the below:
- Frequent yawning and/or feeling sleepy
- Extreme fatigue or lethargy and often difficulty in retaining focus mentally
- Slight changes in vision
- Tingling or feeling of muscle weakness
- Moodiness (becoming irritable or short-tempered or depressed)
- An intense need to sleep and /or falling asleep at your desk at work
- Craving for carbohydrates
- Headache or stomach ache
Major causes of afternoon slumps in energy are:
- An undiagnosed metabolic disorder such as pre diabetes/insulin resistance or reactive hypoglycaemia or post-lunch hypoglycemia,
- Pre-diabetes occurs when the body begins to suffer from changes in how it metabolizes carbohydrates.
- post-lunch hypoglycaemia, which is related to your inability to burn fat.
- Poor sleep patterns resulting in not enough good sleep regularly
- Poor eating habits and/or poor diet
- High levels of stress and/or anxiety
First ensure there is no metabolic reason for the energy loss.
Lifestyle habits to alleviate include:
- Get outside into the sun at lunchtime –Sitting in the sun for 10-15 minutes to eat lunch or go for a walk. ‘You can reset your internal clock, reduce the amount of melatonin your body produces and boost your vitamin D’.
- Eating more protein and less carbs at lunch. Try chicken salad but skip the bread, or a salad with an egg. Less carbs often reduces the impact of afternoon slump
- Eat a square of dark chocolate – to avert a slump a square of dark chocolate with its healthy fat and antioxidants and caffeine can give a quick boost.
- Do some isometric exercises between clients. Tensing a muscle and holding it, encourages blood flow. Tensing your biceps, hold for 5 to 10 seconds, and then release. Do the same with your calves, thighs, chest, stomach and glutes. (1)
This is because simple carbs (a.k.a. not ones made from whole grains) cause a rapid spike in blood sugar, followed by a dramatic drop that can leave you feeling tired and cranky. The bottom line: It’s almost always better to replace simple carbs with complex carbs (think whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole grain pasta, whole wheat crackers, etc.).
You’re Somewhat Dehydrated. Even mild dehydration can make you feel tired, sluggish, and moody. Believe it or not, this can happen with as little as a loss of 1.5 percent of your body’s water weight. So keep a glass of water nearby throughout the day and sip on it regularly.
Your Body Temperature Has Dropped. Post-lunch sleepiness can stem from a dip in your core body temperature that naturally happens between 2:00pm and 4:00pm. It’s a dip that triggers the release of a snooze-inducing hormone called melatonin. It’s a normal part of your body’s circadian rhythm. To combat this dip, try listening to upbeat music, stepping out into the sunshine for a few minutes, or going for a brief, brisk walk to rev up your body.
Pamela Nelson is a Natropath/Nutritionist/Herbalist who practices at Health Space Lane Cove.