That wave of fatigue that washes over you around 2:00 each day is a very real feature of our busy work lives and our biology. Science tells us that our bodies crave sleep in the afternoons because of the circadian rhythm of our internal body clocks. Some cultures have long recognized the need for an afternoon nap (hello, siesta!), and while that’s not an option available to most of us, there are still a few things we can do to minimize the afternoon slump.
Simply getting out of your chair for a few minutes each hour can dramatically reduce the sluggish feeling you get after lunch. When you’re sitting, the lipoprotein lipase (what our bodies use for fuel) is significantly reduced because of the almost total inactivity that comes from sedentary office life. Standing periodically allows lipase to be transported through our bloodstreams to our muscles, providing the much-needed fuel and energy that keeps up alert and productive.
Try to stand for ten minutes for every hour worked, and you’ll notice a big difference in your level of energy. Try a standing desk converter or a stand up keyboard tray, to allow you to stand even more often and enable you to continue work at the same time. A standing desk converter sits on top of your existing worksurface and raises and lowers with the push of a button or the squeeze of a lever. A stand up keyboard tray lifts your keyboard to standing height, and is most often used in conjunction with a monitor riser to avoid neck strain.
Eat and Sleep Right
Easier said than done, of course, but eating the right foods and getting the proper amount of sleep will go a long way towards keeping you feeling good throughout the day.
Try to avoid sugary, starchy foods, especially at lunchtime. These carbohydrates lead to post-lunch hypoglycemia, causing sleepiness and sluggishness. Instead, opt for good fats like nuts, healthy oils, and avocados. Using these fats for energy instead of carbs will make a huge difference in your energy reserves.
Finally, don’t let Netflix keep you up all night; Game of Thrones will still be there tomorrow! In fact, one important practice you can enact in order to set yourself up for a good night’s sleep is to stay away from electronics entirely for 2-3 hours before bedtime. Artificial light from laptops, phones, and tablets trick your body into thinking it’s still daytime, making it hard to fall asleep when you do turn in.
Incorporating movement, healthy foods, and adequate sleep can seem like an effort, especially if you’re immersed in a sedentary, carb-laden, late-night lifestyle. But once you see the benefits in health and productivity, you’ll never look back.