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7 Easy Ways to Avoid the Afternoon Slump

It’s hard to miss when 3pm hits.

One minute, you’re at peak productivity, flying through conference calls, meetings and to-dos, and the next, you’re rummaging through your bag for a sugar hit.

While you might blame it on this morning’s weak short black or early pump class, it’s most likely because of your circadian rhythms, which govern your sleep patterns. In fact, our sleep signals tend to peak at night and during the afternoon (at around 2pm), which can explain the lack of energy most of us tend to experience after lunch.

Armed with these fatigue-fixers, you’ll know just what to do when the afternoon sleepiness starts to set in...

Have a Big Breakfast

While many of skip breakfast, doing so can lead to poor food choices throughout the day. In order to avoid this, ensure your brekkie has a serve of protein (a boiled egg and almonds are simple options) and carbohydrates (an apple, oats or a piece of toast) as the brain and muscles function best when fuelled with both.

Sweat It Out

If you can get away from your desk at lunchtime, a trip to the gym might be just what you need. Not only will doing so boost productivity, but it will also reinvigorate you. If you’ve not packed for the gym, getting outside for a 20 minute walk will also do the trick. Research in the Journal of Behaviour Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry showing that simply just walking boosts your mood, as does exposure to nature. Pounding the pavement also gets you away from your screen, alleviating eyestrain and drowsiness.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

If you’re dehydrated, there’s no doubt you’re feeling somewhat sleepy. While our first reaction to fatigue is a coffee or sugary drink, water will increase energy levels without the dreaded crash, which is why we're recommended to drink 2-3 litres a day. It’s important to prioritise your water intake, as even the mildest dehydration, can have negative impacts such as reduced concentration, headaches and drowsiness.

Eat Something for Energy

Just as caffeine gives you a temporary high, so does everything in that vending machine you suddenly become partial to. Swap the sugary snacks for something with protein and complex carbohydrates, as both combined, will prevent your brain from producing sleep-promoting serotonin while boosting levels of norepinephrine and dopamine, which tend to improve alertness.

Time for Tasks

According to the Wall Street Journal, paying attention to your body clock can help pinpoint the different times to do specific tasks (thanks again, circadian rhythms).While most people do cognitive work in the late morning, the ability to focus and concentrate start to wane soon after. If you’re thinking of starting something new at 4pm, be warned – that’s the time of day most people are easily distracted.

Turn it Up

Research shows that music can do wonders for your concentrations levels. According to Carson Tate, author of Work Simple: Embracing the Power of Personal Productivity Style, a laidback tune will do wonders when clearing the mind. She also believes that when cognitive tasks are on the to-do list, an instrumental piece without lyrics will help you power through.

Into this? Here are 7 foods that help you sleep.

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