Avoiding The 3 o’ Clock Slump

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Posted by Suganya

Its that time in the afternoon. You can barely keep your eyes open, even though there is a pile of work to do. The extent of afternoon fatigue differs from individual to individual and it can happen at work, or at home.

What causes afternoon energy slump?

While there are several medical reasons such as anemia, hypothyroidism, diabetes, hypoglycemia, sleep apnea, adrenal gland insufficiency, clinical depression, Chronic Fatigue Immunodeficiency Syndrome (CFIDS) and fibromyalgia, that can cause afternoon fatigue, simple lifestyle factors like diet, dehydration or stress can also be the cause.

What can one do to avoid afternoon fatigue?

1. Diet

One of the main reasons for an energy slump, is because of sudden fluctuations in blood glucose levels. The lower your blood glucose, the more sleepy you feel.

Foods that are rich in simple carbohydrates or sugar provide you with instant energy by elevating the blood glucose level. While they are a useful part of diet, when taken in excess, they drop your energy level as quickly as they elevate it. As a result your body goes through a roller coaster ride of high-energy and low-energy levels.

The idea is to provide your body with a constant supply of energy. This can be achieved in many ways.
  • Don’t skip meals, particularly breakfast. Starvation and skimpy meals lead to as much exhaustion as a high-carb lunch does.
  • Replace three big meals with five or six small, nutrient dense meals to keep the blood sugar level less fluctuating.
  • Reduce or avoid sugar and simple carbohydrates. Even though a candy bar or white bread or rice can give an instant energy hike by elevating the blood glucose level, it will only make things worse shortly thereafter.
  • Avoid sugary snacks. Keep peanut butter crackers, yogurt, nuts or an energy bar handy for a quick, but sensible fix. Our body needs fat, which is a concentrated source of energy. Hence, a tbsp of nut butter or a handful of nuts provide the necessary fat to fight fatigue.
  • Try taking a balanced food that incorporates unrefined carbs, proteins, vitamins & moderate amount of fat (Yes fat!!! Our body requires fat as well to maintain a proper balance).
2. Hydration

Dehydration contributes to fatigue by reducing blood flow to organs and slowing the brain. Keep a bottle of water by your side and stay hydrated by drinking at least eight glasses of water a day. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty, because your body is already dehydrated by then.

3. Fitness

Making time for exercise in your weekly routine. Regular, but moderate exercise will help increase your energy levels. Also, it helps reduce tension and stress, hence aids for a better night’s sleep.

4. Sleep

Sleep deprivation will most likely lead to fatigue. Get plenty of sleep the night before. If your situation allows, catch a wink in the afternoon. Instead of spending the whole day drearily, an invigorating, short nap can make a day much more productive.

Are you still feeling sleepy?
  • Do a few breathing exercises and fill your lungs with fresh air. Deep, cleansing breaths can restore energy.
  • Learn a few stretch routines that can be done even while sitting in a chair. Stretching not only increases blood flow to the body, but stimulates the brain due to increased oxygen supply.
  • A quick, brisk walk raises energy and wards off inertia. Take a walk when you feel sleepy. Walking outside is also an opportunity to inhale fresh air. If you don’t have the time for a 10-minute walk, then run up and down the stairs for two minutes.
  1. Conquering fatigue, by Debra Waterhouse, M.P.H., R.D.
  2. Rev up your energy
  3. The cure for exhaustion? More exercise

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This Post was written by Suganya from Tasty Palettes.


Thank you for this post, Suganya. I have personally experienced how a guzzle of water can miraculously pep me up when I am feeling run-down in the afternoon. And all the time, I was feeling tired but not thirsty.

Nupur said...
June 11, 2008 at 1:00:00 PM GMT+2  

A very intresting post.
I should take your advice, as there are times when i eat sweets than eating a healthier pot of youghurt os something like that.

Finla said...
June 11, 2008 at 1:31:00 PM GMT+2  

I've always been a major afternoon slumper -- but I'm wide awake at 3:00 in the morning! Go figure -- I am completely the opposite of most people. But staying hydrated really does help to moderate that tired feeling.

June 11, 2008 at 5:35:00 PM GMT+2  

I agree :-) I keep a bottle of water next to me and it is empty by lunchtime. :-) Needs a refill. I also drink water whenever I have a craving of any kind... no tea coffee... just water... and I have a bowl of fruit at around 4. Has helped a lot... :-)

But thankfully... I almost never feel sleepy in the afternoons... :-) in fact, never know when it is 6.30 and time to go home. Thank heavens

Raaga said...
June 12, 2008 at 10:14:00 AM GMT+2  

Great post! So much better to have a small healthy snack and some water than reach for another cup of coffee!

Anonymous said...
June 12, 2008 at 11:23:00 PM GMT+2  

Nupur, sounds unbelievably simple, but water does the trick. It took sometime for me to realize it, but I have learnt my lesson :)

HC, those low-fat, organic, single serving yogurt containers are such a treat. They come in wide varieties these days. Passion fruit, acai, poemgrante; you name it they have it.

Lydia, If I catch a wink in the afternoons (which I rarely do), I too find it difficult to sleep through the night. If I feel sleepy, I would wash my face, drink water and do something mentally challenging. Like solving crosswords or sudoku. Keeps me alert.

Bowl of fruits and sauteed lentils are my choice of snacks too, Raaga. Even if we are in a climate-controlled area, we still need 8 glasses of water.

Rightly said, Ann.

Suganya said...
June 13, 2008 at 8:28:00 PM GMT+2  

Great post Suganya. I am big time afternoon slumper, so need to follow the instructions here :)..

KonkaniBlogger said...
June 17, 2008 at 1:33:00 AM GMT+2  

Suganya this is one nice post. But Ayurveda says "Do not drink water unless u're thirsty". As excess waer makes u drain th minerals in your body by frequent urination. The effeicincy of your kidney can be measured up by how many times u urinate and how must qualtity you urniate if u drink water only when u'e thirsty. Give it a try!

Nirmala said...
August 22, 2008 at 6:05:00 AM GMT+2  

Sorry for so much typo!
Suganya this is one nice post. But Ayurveda says "Do not drink water unless u're thirsty". As excess water makes u drain the minerals in your body by frequent urination. The efficiency of your kidney can be measured up by how many times u urinate and how much quantity you urniate if u drink water only when u'e thirsty. Give it a try!

Nirmala said...
August 22, 2008 at 6:06:00 AM GMT+2  

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