The Afternoon Slump
You need something—a candy bar, a caffeine IV, just one blessed minute to close your eyes. Hey, are you awake? “The midafternoon slump is actually a true physiological event,” says Edlund. “During this time of day, your core body temperature plateaus, which can bring on sleepiness.” And if you slept poorly the night before, you’ll probably notice a more significant slump the next day. This is also the time when your cortisol level drops, and along with it possibly your mood, energy, focus, and motivation, says Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., a holistic nutritionist in Woodland Hills, California. Luckily, there are easy ways to snap out of it (that don’t involve curling up under your desk).
Boost flagging get-up-and-go with light, activity, and well-timed snacks. These all send your body cues that help set and reset your internal clock. (Experts call such cues zeitgeber, from the German word for “time giver.”)
Whip out a purse energizer. Dab on an alertness-boosting product, such as Aveeno’s Smart Essentials Anti-Fatigue Eye Treatment ($12, drugstore.com), which comes in a tiny stick with a metal ball top that can be rolled under the eyes for a magical cooling effect. Or, for an instant spa treatment, spritz on Citrus Purifying Mist from Jurlique ($21, jurlique.com).
Move (just a little). You knew it was coming: the part where you need to stand up and walk around. Stay with us—a little physical activity really does give the mind a jolt. “Movement requires a lot more alertness than sitting,” says Edlund. “You stimulate your whole brain by asking it to sort through all kinds of visual and sensory cues.” A 10-minute walk can increase your energy for up to two hours, according to research from California State University at Long Beach.
Stay awake in a deadly meeting. It’s a cruel reality that you’re often stuck at a conference table during this low period. Here’s how to maintain consciousness.
Focus: “Curiosity is known to be tremendously energizing,” says Borysenko,“so give your brain something to engage with.” Imagine that you’re listening to the most fascinating subject. Take notes. Ask questions. Presto—not only are you not asleep but you’re also the most dynamic person at the table! (Maybe you’ll get promoted and you won’t have to sit in these meetings anymore.)
Drink ice water: Cold H2O might aid in keeping you awake by setting off pain triggers, according to researchers at the University of Chicago.
Don’t stifle that yawn: Yawning may help you stay alert because it can lower brain temperature, which promotes mental efficiency, says Andrew C. Gallup, a postdoctoral research associate in ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University.