Ever feel sleepy in the afternoon? I do sometimes, right around 2PM. It’s actually normal and related to the natural ebb and flow of our internal body clocks. It’s perfectly normal to feel a twinge of drowsiness in the afternoon.
So, what happens when we’re really feeling sleepy and our energy tank is riding on “E”? Give in and take a nap? Well, yeah! Actually that’s one option, but it’s not always feasible or helpful for some individuals.
Let’s see what else we could do…
Eat a healthy breakfast! As cliché as it may sound, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Why? Because it sets you up for the remainder of your day. It gets the fuel tank filled and your energy jump started.
Notice I wrote healthy breakfast. A mug of coffee doesn’t count; sorry. Donuts don’t count either. They just don’t provide you with enough energy or nutrients to sustain you. A quality breakfast is one that includes protein and a complex carb. It will keep your blood sugar levels steady and keep hunger (and, for me, sugar cravings) at bay. Examples are:
- Yogurt and whole wheat toast spread with natural peanut butter.
- Oatmeal with walnuts and milk mixed in.
- Breakfast burrito – scrambled eggs, cheese, green peppers and onions wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla.
- Brown rice with tofu and green onions mixed in it (Who said breakfast has to have traditional breakfast foods?).
- Whole grain pancakes (wheat flour, oat flour, spelt flour, or any other kind of whole grain flour) with sausages (can be turkey, tofu, or lite).
Whole wheat English muffin topped with scrambled eggs and a bit of shredded cheese.
Have a tall one. I’m talking about water here. Dehydration, even just a little bit, can make you feel sluggish, even. You don’t necessarily have to feel thirsty to be dehydrated. In fact, feeling thirsty is just a signal that you’re really dehydrated and to drink water pronto!
Want to get an estimate of how well hydrated you are? Well… (Careful, I get a little intimate and graphic here!) Next time you go to the bathroom, check out the color of your urine. If it’s clear, you’re probably well hydrated. If it’s a dark yellow, you may not be drinking enough water.
Get in Motion! If you’re starting to feel the afternoon slump heading your way, get up and move. Stretch, do crunches and push-ups, turn on some music and dance, climb the stairs at work… or at home! Go for a walk. Getting some sunshine will wake up the body. Feeling a brisk breeze will refresh the mind, as well. A walk is a good way to get in some exercise too, so this option works like a one-two punch! 🙂
Fuel up. Again, protein comes in to play. Make sure your lunch has some form of lean protein. Chicken breast, turkey, fish, tofu, low-fat cheese, and eggs are several examples of protein sources. You can take any of these foods and turn them into a great lunch.
One example: I love fresh salads with everything on them! Add carrots, green and red peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, whole wheat pasta, and grilled chicken. Top with a mixture of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper or simply some lemon juice and herbs. Wow! That tastes good! I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! And you will be satisfied; trust me! 😉
During the bewitching hours when sleepiness appears, instead of reaching for the cookies or candy (I am guilty here!), have a snack of string cheese and an apple, peanut butter on whole grain toast or crackers, low-fat yogurt mixed with walnuts and almonds, or carrots and celery with cottage cheese or hummus.
Take a power nap. As mentioned at the beginning, a nap may be a good option for recharging. Just make sure this won’t interfere with your regular sleep at night. If a nap causes you to stay awake later at night or you find it difficult to fall asleep, then you may want to reconsider taking naps.
If an afternoon snooze agrees with you and you’re able to do it, a 20-minute nap can give you that second wind and help you feel more alert. Going beyond 30 minutes may actually make you feel worse. If you know you’ve got to take a long nap, let your body go through a sleep cycle. That way you won’t feel so groggy when you wake up. One sleep cycle is approximately 90 – 110 minutes long.
Get those Zzz’s! Speaking of sleep, make sure you’re getting enough of it at night! The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep every night! I happen to fall in that group. My brother, on the other hand, can get by with 5 or 6 hours! I was always amazed at this when we were kids. Still am!
This is a topic for a future post as there’s a lot to cover! But just keep in mind that if you’re yawning a lot in the afternoon, you might not be getting enough sleep at night. Sometimes it’s hard to get in those forty-winks, though, isn’t it?
Notice I left out caffeine. I’m personally in favor of other options to recharge in the afternoon. Caffeine in the afternoon has the tendency to disrupt sleep at night. It can cause other unpleasant side effects too such as jitteriness, rapid heart rate, upset stomach, and dehydration, not to mention it is addicting! To me, all that’s not worth the temporary pick-me-up. I’m far too sensitive to caffeine to want to use it anyway!
OK, I make an exception: green tea! One caveat, though; it’s gotta be from Japan!