This Is Exactly What You Should Do at 1 p.m. Every Day, Experts Say

Suffering from the midday slump? Here's everything you need to know to reclaim your afternoons.

If lately you've fallen victim to the midday slump, you know just how draining it can be. And while it's always been a common workday problem, the pandemic may actually be exacerbating the issue by interrupting our sleep schedules, piling on the stress, and changing up our work routines and dietary habits. On top of all of this, our natural circadian rhythms tend to slow us down in the early afternoon, dragging us down to the depths of drowsiness.

So what can you do to fight the slump and feel your best? Well, first you'll want to rule out any potentially serious metabolic disorders by speaking with your doctor. But once you've identified the problem as good ol' fashioned, work-related sluggishness, you can move on to reinvigorating your afternoon routine. This multifaceted approach to beating the midday slump will help you to finally reclaim your day with improved energy, clarity, mood, and focus. So, set your clocks, people! The new you starts at 1 p.m. And for more on feeling your best, check out these 25 Ways to Boost Your Energy Level Without Coffee.

Eat a high-protein, slow-carb lunch.

close up plate of salmon over rice and lentils with green beans

We've all experienced a "food coma", but most people don't realize there's an actual name for this phenomenon: postprandial somnolence. To avoid it, begin your afternoon by preparing a lunch that's protein- and fiber-rich, and includes a small helping of complex carbohydrates. The trick is to maximize your slow-release energy sources, and to steer clear of sugars, excessive caffeine, and heavy foods that will only slow you down.

Be mindful of portion control at lunchtime as well—overeating in the middle of the day can trigger your vegetative state, and make it that much harder to bounce back. Research suggests that a smaller meal followed by a healthy afternoon snack will help you keep your momentum going. And for more dietary tips that'll boost your energy, check out the 30 Best Foods for Maximizing Your Energy Levels.

Get outside.

relaxed senior man outfoors

After lunch, take a midday walk outside. Whether you're working remotely, in an office, or elsewhere, this change of scenery is an essential part of keeping your energy up.

Additionally, studies have shown that even short periods of time in the sun can reverse the effects of fatigue by giving you a healthy dose of vitamin D. According to Harvard Health Publishing, "Under the right circumstances, 10 to 15 minutes of sun on the arms and legs a few times a week can generate nearly all the vitamin D we need."

Hydrate, and then hydrate some more.

woman drinking water what happens when you don't drink enough water

Next, it's time for a tall glass of ice-cold water. This is a good all-day habit, but it's that much more essential when fatigue sets in after lunch.

Studies have shown that even mild dehydration (quantified as a 1.5 percent loss of normal water volume) has the ability to "alter a person's mood, energy levels, and ability to think clearly." Notably, our thirst sensation doesn't kick in until we've lost between one and two percent of our water volume—meaning by the time you're feeling thirsty, you're already well on your way to these negative effects. And for more staying hydrated in style, check out the 25 Best Water Bottles for Staying Hydrated.

Break up your routine.

Woman meditating on the couch

Beyond your natural circadian rhythm, your midday fatigue might simply be the result of working a certain number of hours before midday strikes. If you notice that your midday slump is less pronounced on the weekends, your work schedule is likely the culprit.

You can fix this by taking a break from any longer work tasks, and interrupting your routine with some mental variation. Try calling a friend on the phone, taking a shower if you're working remotely, or spending 10 minutes meditating. (Studies show doing the later is worth an extra 45 minutes of sleep.) Whatever you do, step away from the screen, which can zap your energy by straining your eyes, giving you headaches, and making you feel mentally depleted.

Stretch and move.

Getting active may sound like the last thing you want to do during your afternoon slump, but it's exactly what your body needs. Even 10 minutes of stretching, yoga, or light exercise will help to increase your blood and nutrient flow throughout your body, while also loosening any tense muscles. Studies have shown that this is a simple way to lower high cortisol levels, which can work wonders to reverse your feeling of fatigue. And for more on the benefits of yoga, check out The Yoga Move That Will Transform Your Sex Life.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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