There’s one part of the work day that always seems to slow folks down: The 3 p.m. slump. It’s within those few post-lunch hours that our attention span slowly starts to fade, follow-up emails vanish and enthusiasm evaporates like rain on an arid day.
Our internal circadian biological clocks regulate the timing of our energy levels throughout the day. The circadian rhythm dips and rises at different times of the day, and drops significantly during the hours between 2 and 5 p.m., according to The National Sleep Foundation.
If you’re a frequent casualty of the afternoon crash, here are three science-backed ways to fight it — no caffeine needed:
1. Eat a low-carb breakfast and lunch
To keep fatigue at bay, make sure you eat a healthy breakfast and lunch. Foods that are rich in carbohydrates but low in protein can lead to a spike in blood sugar, which can result in a major decrease in energy, research has shown.
It’s also important to stay hydrated throughout the day and resist the temptation to snack on sweets. If your midday hunger pains start to kick in, opt for energy-boosting alternatives (i.e., raw nuts, yogurt or veggies) instead of heading straight to the vending machines.
2. Go for a walk
A 2017 study published in the scientific journal Physiology & Behavior found that short periods of physical activities (i.e., 15 minutes of walking), rather than daily caffeine consumption (i.e., a 50-milligram caffeine capsule), were more effective in boosting energy levels in people with chronic insufficient sleep.
If you sense a wave of drowsiness, make it a point to get up from your desk and take a quick walk. Even a short stroll around the office or down the hallway to see a colleague can give you a much-needed jolt of energy.
3. Listen to music
Research has shown that music can increase your concentration levels. In the same way that music can rev up your workout, it can “do the same thing before your 3 p.m. presentation,” according to Carson Tate, author of “Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style.”
While different people may have different music preferences, Tate recommends a laid-back beat to help clear your mind. She says instrumentals without lyrics does the trick in helping her to power through cognitive lulls. We recommend the new album “Lilac Skies” by Shambhu Vineberg or the classic “One” by Todd Boston.
Kabir Sehgal is a New York Times best-selling author. He is a former vice president at JPMorgan Chase, multi-Grammy Award winner and U.S. Navy veteran. Chopra and Sehgal are the co-creators of Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome, inspired by American immigrants.