How to Beat the 3:00 Energy Slump
Every day at the same time, you feel like you could just fall asleep. Sometimes you are sitting at your desk at work, while other times you are driving your kids from school to soccer practice. No matter where you are, you feel like you could just close your eyes and go right to sleep.
I’ve been there. I fell asleep once at 4:30 in the afternoon at the foot of my bed as my husband and kids played in the next room. That’s when I knew that something was not right.
Have you considered recently WHY this is happening? Or did you just write it off as “the motherhood badge of exhaustion”?
Let’s talk a little bit about a few reasons why this actually could be happening.
It’s important to say here that without knowing your individual situation, there’s no way that I can generalize any one condition. Also, this is in no way meant to replace a meeting with a doctor and an actual diagnosis. I am not licensed to treat, diagnose, or cure any disease.
Ok, now that all of the legal mumbo-jumbo is out of the way, let’s talk about what could be contributing to that slump.
What did you eat for lunch? Research is split on whether or not it’s your lunch meal that’s causing this sleepiness. There’s not much research tied to the fact that what you are eating for lunch is causing you to become sleepy. In fact, some research shows that even if you eat nothing for lunch at all, you can still get sleepy! However, we know that certain foods can boost your energy, so it’s probably wise to beef those foods up in your meals surrounding that energy dip time.
What CAN be proven by research is that the quality of your sleep may be causing you to go all Sleeping Beauty mid-afternoon. This 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. time period is actually another circadian rhythm slump because of how early we wake up for work in the morning, so it’s human nature to want to take a snooze in the afternoon. In other words, your body says, “Sleep little one” but your boss/kids say, “LOL nope.”
Unfortunately, until America starts adopting the siestas of Spain life, we’re kind of going to have to figure something else out.
Mind What You Eat. The first thing to explore is what you are eating for lunch. Food is fuel, so you should be fueling your body with clean, happy foods during a long work day. The harder you work at your job (this includes physical jobs such as construction and SAHMomhood), the more food your body needs to keep its energy reserves up. The more you sit (desk jobs, etc.), the less food your body needs to keep its energy up. Furthermore, the quality of your food is important. If you are fueling your body with meats and cheeses mid-day, your body has to take up time and energy to digest those foods, whereas plant foods that are more bioavailable will require less energy to work their way through your body. Consider choosing light salads, soups, or sandwiches of mixed vegetables on whole grain breads or rice and beans for lunch.
Sleep Habits. The next thing to think about is your sleep habits. Getting to bed before 10 p.m. is imperative for a good night of sleep. Turn off electronics about an hour before sleep. The blue light emitted by screens on cell phones, computers, tablets, and televisions restrict the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your circadian rhythm. Reducing melatonin makes it harder to fall and stay asleep.
Circadian rhythms. Speaking of circadian rhythms, your circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and moves between sleepiness and alertness at intervals.
For most adults, the biggest dip in energy happens in the middle of the night (somewhere between 2:00am and 4:00am, when they're usually fast asleep) and just after lunchtime. Things that make you go hmmmmmm….. You won’t feel the dips and rises of your circadian rhythm as strongly if you’re well-rested. It’s when you’re sleep-deprived that you’ll notice bigger swings of sleepiness and alertness.
To try to avoid the slump,
Balance your fats throughout your day. You need to fill your diet with good fats such as nuts, olive oil and, my personal favorite, avocados. You heard me —avocado toast will help you not be a hangry, sleepy beotch in the afternoon. And if you need some more tips on healthy schnacks, check out my Healthy Schnack breakdown over here.
Power nap. If you have the luxury of doing this, squeeze in a 20 minute nap in the afternoon. According to the Sleep Foundation, “While naps do not necessarily make up for inadequate or poor quality nighttime sleep, a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance.” Get me a nap pod, I’m goin’ in, guys!
Exercise! Energy creates energy, so taking a quick stroll around the block (or at the very least around your cubicle) to get the blood pumping will help to kick that slump to the curb. Instead of sitting still and wallowing in your exhaustion, get a move on! I have many clients who have kids in sports. Instead of sitting in the stands and cheering the kids on, consider walking the track around the field, or standing at the sidelines and taking quick, brisk mini walks. The endorphins produced from your quick little bout of exercise will release endorphins that will help you feel energized.
Of course, the number one way to feel more rested is to rest more. Take brain breaks throughout the day. Get up and move around every 25 minutes or so. Practice stress management techniques such as yoga, diaphragmatic breaking, and visualization. And if you don’t know where to start, enlist the help of an expert to guide you on this new journey. The benefits of adjusting your schedule are PRICELESS.
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