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The After Lunch Slump

may 23 energy boosting snacks.jpgAre you the kind of person who has energy all morning and sails through lunchtime, only to hit a wall a couple hours after you eat? If so, you’re not alone. The 3 p.m. slump is real, and it’s all thanks to a one-two punch of your blood sugar and circadian rhythms. While you may not be able to overcome your craving for a nap entirely, understanding your body will help you deal with the discomfort and figure out ways to power through.

The Biology Behind the Slump

Your circadian rhythms tell your body when to sleep and when to wake. They’re based on the amount of daylight your body receives, so you feel awake when the sun is up and sleepy after it sets. However, scientists have also discovered that the human body has evolved to sleep twice per day, so your natural rhythms are telling you to catch some shut-eye in the afternoon. Unfortunately, what worked for cavemen isn’t very useful in the modern world — especially when your boss expects productivity from 9 to 5.

workers tired after lunchA few hours after lunch, you’re also likely to experience a dip in your blood sugar. After your body has digested your lunch, you’ll feel a lull in energy, and when this is combined with your body’s natural circadian rhythms, the results can be a powerful urge to curl up and take a nap. It’s no surprise that the siesta was invented, but unless you live in Spain, you’ll need a different way to handle your afternoon sleepiness.

How to Beat the Afternoon Blues

When your energy is at it’s lowest, there are a few things you can do to wake yourself back up. Try these tips for pushing through the yawns and getting back to work:

    • Healthy Afternoon Snacks:Avoid a carb-heavy lunch or snack, which can leave you feeling sluggish. Likewise, resist the urge to reach for a sugary treat — the crash will come sooner than you expect and leave you feeling worse than before. Instead, opt for a protein-rich snack like a turkey sandwich or a cup of yogurt. Fruit and veggies are also a good choice to give your blood sugar a boost.
    • Take a Power Nap: Not everyone is able to catch a catnap on the job, but sleeping after lunch is often the quickest way to recharge your batteries and satisfy your body’s desire for a second sleep. A 20-minute power nap can help you reset without leaving you feeling groggy when you wake up. If you can close your office door and close your eyes at the same time, this could be a great investment in your late-day productivity.
    • Take a Walk or a Stretch: If taking a nap won’t work for you, try the opposite: Get the blood flowing with a little exercise. Taking a walk around the block or doing some stretching at your desk will help oxygenate your blood and make you more alert. It’s also a good way to beat the strain of sitting in a chair all day and to improve your overall health.

The next time you feel a yawn coming on after lunch, try one of these three tricks to wake yourself back up. They’re each a healthy way to get energized, and when you find what works for you, you can make it part of your regular afternoon routine.

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