how to increase energy in the afternoon
Always tired in the afternoons? Here are 7 science-backed ways to fight the midday slump and stay energized

Many of us have been there. You have a really productive morning, and then afternoon hits and all of a sudden you feel tired and sleepy.

What’s to blame for the midday slump? According to the National Sleep Foundation, our circadian rhythms regulate our energy levels throughout the day, and tend to drop significantly during the hours between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. 

Here are 7 science-backed ways to fight afternoon sleepiness.

7 ways to overcome the afternoon slump

1. Don’t skimp on breakfast

Starting your day with simple carbohydrates and little protein can cause your blood sugar levels to spike and then drop during the next few hours, resulting in a major decrease in energy. Consider incorporating complex carbohydrates in your breakfast and lunch. You can try including eggs, muesli, oats, low-fat cheese, etc. in your breakfast along with fruits such as apples and bananas, which will give you more sustained energy.

2. Drink plenty of fluids

Dehydration can contribute to fatigue. Keep sipping water throughout the day while you are working and keep your water bottle handy.

Instead of relying on coffee, try drinking green or black tea instead. Tea contains l-theanine, which can help improve focus and concentration. 

3. Get some natural light

Sunlight is a great way to refresh your energy, so open your blinds or the whole window to let light and fresh air in. If you don’t have windows in your office or cubicle, go outside to get a few minutes in the sun.

4. Go for a brisk walk

Research has found that short periods of physical activity, such as 15 minutes of walking, can be more effective in boosting energy levels than daily caffeine consumption.

Get your blood flowing by taking a short stroll around the office, or even running up and down the stairs. Use your bathroom breaks to stretch and move your body so that you can return to your desk energized and refreshed. 

5. Listen to music

Listening to music can enhance your concentration, mental efficiency, and creativity. Studies suggest that listening to a laid-back beat or instrumental music without lyrics may do the trick in fighting fatigue and helping you through the cognitive lulls.

6. Use aromatherapy

Certain scents can invigorate you and help you wake up. Try using mists or lotions with essential oils such as lemon, rosemary, and spearmint, which have been shown to improve focus, boost mood and energy, and increase performance.’

7. Stick to a sleep schedule

You may be tired during the day and feel it even more intensely in the early afternoon if you’re not following a proper sleep schedule. Most people need at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night to function at their best. Lack of sleep can cause your circadian rhythms to dip even more in the afternoon.

What supplements can help you fight afternoon sleepiness?

Supplements can also help you improve focus throughout the day: 

  • Fish oil: Excellent source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), two types of omega-3 fatty acids. DHA is essential for maintaining brain function, EPA has anti-inflammatory effects that can protect against cognitive decline, and fatty acids in general have been associated with improved mood.
  • Acetyl-L-carnitine: Vital for both energy and metabolism, helping you fight feelings of sluggishness. This amino acid can also promote alertness throughout the day.
  • Ginkgo biloba: Plant-derived herbal supplement that can help boost brain power, improving blood flow to the brain and potentially helping enhance memory and focus.

Before starting a supplements regimen, consult your doctor, especially if you are already taking other medications or supplements.

What vitamins and minerals can help you beat the afternoon slump?

Clinical research has shown that vitamins and minerals may offer an energy boost without the risk of dependence or side effects:

  • Vitamin B12: Necessary for cells to produce energy and plays an important role in neurological function.
  • Coenzyme Q10: Important for energy production and necessary for proper cell function. 
  • Magnesium: Required for more than 300 different biochemical reactions, including muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and energy production.
  • Iron: Helps oxygen circulate throughout the body and is necessary for the body’s cells to function and develop properly.

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Medically Reviewed on 8/5/2021
References
Shaw G. Afternoon Energy Boosters. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/afternoon-energy-boosters

Prince R. How to Avoid the Afternoon Slump. Sleep.org. https://www.sleep.org/5-ways-overcome-afternoon-slump/

O’Hara C. How to Overcome the Midday Slump. Harvard Business Publishing. https://hbr.org/2015/07/how-to-overcome-the-midday-slump