Most of us have been there: a super productive morning finishing projects, working toward inbox zero, and fighting the urge to tweet at co-workers. (Just us?) Then the clock strikes 2:00 and you might as well pull down the shades, throw on pajamas, and hop into bed.
It’s completely normal to feel super tired once the afternoon rolls around. Circadian rhythms, which affect your sleep patterns, may be to blame for the midday slump.
In fact, your “sleep signals” peak at night and during the afternoon (right around 2 p.m.), which may explain why you want to grab an afternoon catnap.
Other factors, like what you eat, your hydration level, and how much time you spend staring at a screen, can also affect your energy level.
Think it’s time to curl up in your cubicle? Here are some ways to fight that fatigue as soon as it strikes.
1. Work out
A midday trip to the gym may not only wake you up but also boost productivity. According to a 2011 study, getting in a workout during the workday could improve your productivity once you’re back at your desk.
2. Stretch it out
Feelin’ stiff? Stretching sends a surge of blood and nutrients through your body, providing a quick energy boost. If there’s no stretching station in sight, try these desk stretches to keep your muscles loose.
3. Move around
Changing your environment can help boost your energy. Try to sit near a window or under a bright white light, which will alert your brain that it’s time to wake up.
Or take a break and get outside — a 2010 study found that spending just 20 minutes in nature could boost people’s feelings of vitality.
4. Try a walking meeting
Take that meeting to the streets and discuss what you would in the office outdoors. Here at Greatist, we love doing laps around the neighborhood for some fresh air!
5. Stand up
If you spend most of the workday on your rear, please stand up. Staying on your feet helps you focus, and it might even prolong your life. Get a standing desk and work away!
6. Don’t skimp on breakfast
Whether breakfast is the most important meal of the day is debatable, but skipping it or making the wrong food choices in the a.m. could leave you fuzzy.
Energy-boosting breakfasts include healthy protein sources like eggs and Greek yogurt, plus slow-burning carbs from whole grain cereals and breads.
Tight on time? Try these on-the-go breakfast ideas.
7. Eat a small(er) lunch
8. Cut back on sugar
A little sugar may go a long way — but in the wrong direction. Consuming sweets can provide a quick boost, but it only leads to a sugar crash that leaves you even less alert.
9. Have a snack
Not mealtime yet? Have a snack to help boost your energy. Try an ounce of cheese, a handful of nuts, or another high-protein snack to stay alert.
10. Stay hydrated
11. Sip green tea
Packed with active compounds called phytochemicals, a mug of green tea can perk you up in the afternoon without making it tough to fall asleep that night. Plus, its nutritional benefits are enough to make anyone wide-eyed.
12. Chew gum
Upping your afternoon power stores may be as simple as chewing gum (seriously). According to a 2015 study, gum chewing boosts energy and enhances work performance.
13. Skip the booze
Fatigue could be the result of a big ol’ hangover. Avoid drinking alcohol during the workweek or keep consumption to a moderate level — that’s one (for women) or two drinks (for men) per day, according to the CDC.
14. Get enough sleep
15. Take a catnap
Sometimes the best remedy for fatigue is simply to shut your eyes. Learn how to power nap (20 to 30 minutes of snooze time) to get that midday boost you really need.
16. Take a break
17. Give your eyes some rest
To avoid eyestrain (which can make your eyes feel tired), keep a safe distance from your computer screen — about an arm’s length. Follow the American Optometric Association’s 20/20/20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and shift your eyes to something at least 20 feet away.
18. Chill out
Need a quick burst of energy? Splash some cold water on your face or stick your head in the freezer for a few seconds. The chill will wake you up for sure.
19. Talk it out
Instead of emailing a co-worker down the hall, take a trip to their cubicle and talk in person. Make it a brisk walk to get exercise, stretch your legs, and give your eyes a break from staring at the screen.
20. Switch tasks
Working on the same project for 5 hours? Switch gears to stay stimulated and keep things fresh. Just don’t try to do more than one thing at a time — multitasking may make you about 40 percent less productive.
21. Turn on the tunes
Feeling like you’re about to doze off? Listening to uplifting music can boost alertness, attention, and memory.
It seems like somewhere between 1 and 3 p.m. our brains go on vacation, leaving the rest of our bodies exhausted and rereading sentences five times without making any progress. If this sounds like you, it’s time to mix it up at work.
Eat high-protein foods and small meals without added sugar. Drink green tea to keep the energy flowing and avoid those pesky coffee jitters. Get outside to stretch your legs, and follow the 20-20-20 rule to give your eyes a break. Don’t forget to turn on some music without lyrics and chew some gum. You should feel perked up in no time.
Finally, maintain solid habits during the workweek to stay on your game, like getting enough sleep at night and easing up on booze during happy hour. A few simple adjustments could help you prevent the midday slump.