How to beat the mid afternoon energy slump

You’re back from lunch, with a mountain of work to do but your energy levels are on the floor.

Not only is this terrible for your productivity but it can also affect your waistline. When you’re feeling like this your cravings go through the roof, especially for carbs. So you’ll often find yourself back and forwards to the biscuit tin, managing the energy roller coaster of sugar highs and lows all afternoon.

The good news is that with these simple changes you can avoid all this and keep feeling and performing your best all day!

The most obvious place to start when looking at energy levels and tiredness is how much sleep you’re getting and the quality of that sleep. For more help with this check out my blog 8 tips to improve sleep.

One thing you can do that can really help is always aiming to get to bed at the same time and get up at the same time. Most days you probably have to be up at the same time (depending on how many times you snooze your alarm) so if you’re going to bed at different times this means that the amount of sleep you get will be up and down, and so will you energy levels.

Ideally you want to be aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep, some people do fine on 7, others need 8 plus but you don’t really want to be consistently getting less than 7.

Based on when you need to get up, work out what time you’ll need to go to bed to get enough sleep and make this part of your routine.

A few days of getting enough sleep will have a huge impact on your energy levels, focus and motivation throughout the day.

Diet also plays a huge part in how we feel, so the next thing to look at is what you’re eating, across the day, but particularly at lunch time.

If you tend to eat quite ‘carby’ lunches, things like sandwiches, jacket potatoes, chips and you feel lethargic afterwards, you’d probably benefit from making your lunch choices more balanced.

This could be as simple as making sure your sandwich includes some protein and salad, so maybe a chicken salad sandwich rather than cheese and chutney. But you might also want to go for one of the 400 calorie ready meals most supermarkets are doing now. They are generally pretty tasty, include a good amount of protein, sensible amount of carbs and usually some vegetables too.

Having a more balanced meal will mean you get a more steady amount of energy from what you’ve eaten and avoid that energy slump.

One of the best ways to boost your energy levels and focus during the day is to get outdoors for a short walk on your lunch break.

The combination of movement, fresh air and sunlight has a huge amount of benefits.

Not only will it boost your energy levels, it will also benefit your mood, concentration and focus. Plus getting moving during the day will help with issues associated with sitting for long periods of time like bad backs and poor posture. You’ll go back to your desk feeling refreshed and far more ready to work.

When you are feeling tired and sluggish it can be really easy to rely on caffeine to get you through the day.

The problem is that the more you drink, the more you need to drink to feel the effects, and before you know it you’re consuming ridiculous amounts of caffeine each day.

Even if you don’t feel like it’s making any difference that caffeine can still be affecting the quality of your sleep hours later. Because it’s a stimulant it can affect your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep, meaning that you wake up tired again, drink more coffee and the cycle continues!

Looking at your sleep, your diet, getting fresh air and exercise during the day will all help reduce your need to rely on caffeine, and one way of stopping it potentially affecting your sleep is to avoid caffeine after midday.

When assessing the impact of caffeine, it has been shown to have a half life of up to 6 hours and a quarter life of up to 12 hours. What this means is that for 6-12 hours after you drank that cup of coffee your body could still be feeling the effects of between half and a quarter of the caffeine content. That cup of coffee at 3pm might seem no big deal but you definitely don’t want to be feeling it at 3am!

Check out this short video from sleep expert Matthew Walker for more on how caffeine can affect sleep, click here.

The final tip I would give you to help keep your energy levels consistent across the day is to drink more water.

There are so many reasons for this and countless benefits that come from drinking water but the reality is that most people just don’t drink enough.

In terms of cravings and over-eating, so often we reach for ‘carby’ foods thinking we are hungry when in fact we are just thirsty.

Plus, getting into the habit of getting up every hour or so to get a drink is a great way of forcing you to leave your desk which will improve blood flow and can really help your concentration levels.

And drinking more water will stop you relying on tea and coffee so much which will reduce your caffeine intake.

Improving how you look, feel and perform isn’t about overhauling your lifestyle in one go. It’s about looking honestly at where you might be going wrong and what you could improve, then making small, manageable changes.

See which of these tips could have the biggest impact on your life and slowly start to make them a part of your daily habits and routines.

Small changes add up and can make a huge difference, just you watch.

Let me know how you get on.