You’re at work. It’s late afternoon. You’re feeling a bit tired and looking for a quick pick-me-up. You find yourself craving something sweet, so you reach for the chocolate. You look at your watch. It’s 3pm. Yep. The dreaded 3pm slump has hit and you don’t know why. So, what is it and how can you avoid it?
If you’re finding yourself tired mid-afternoon, there’s a good reason for it. The short answer is that our bodies are biologically programmed to be sleeping at that time. This is especially true if you’ve woken up early. By the time 3pm hits, you’ve probably been awake for around 8 hours, which means your body starts to release melatonin, in preparation for sleep. At the same time, your body temperature starts to drop, which can leave you with that tired, sluggish feeling.
Most of us will reach for something sugary or a stimulant such as coffee to get through the day. But, all this does is give you a quick short-term fix, maybe for an hour or so, and then you’re right back again to where you started. It doesn’t actually address the problem. So, what do you do? Here are a few things that can help you kick the 3pm slump to the curb for good:
Get more sleep
If you’re always tired in the afternoon, it may be because you’re not getting enough sleep. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and get a solid 8 hours each night. It’s a good way to program your body clock to be alert at the right times, and asleep at the right times. Train your body and mind into a routine that you know you can stick to.
Feeling tired and craving sugar goes hand-in-hand. When you crave sugar, it’s your body’s way of telling you that you are tired. Sometimes it’s a simple case of not having had enough water earlier in the day. Drinking water is a great way to flush out any unwanted toxins in our body, it can help to curb cravings and stops us from mindless snacking. So, before you reach for that chocolate, have a glass of water and see if you’re still hungry afterwards!
Opt for healthy snacks
Sometimes the 3pm slump is unavoidable, so when it happens, opt for some healthier snacks such as a piece of fruit, a handful of nuts, some carrot or celery sticks, hummus dip with some rye crackers or full-fat plain greek yoghurt. They will do a better job at filling you up and give you a longer-lasting slow burn release of energy.
Eat more protein
Protein increases your metabolic rate and helps to reduce appetite. When we crave sugary treats, it can often be the body’s way of telling us that we’re missing something in our diets and that we don’t have the right balance. Most people don’t eat enough protein – especially women, which can leave us feeling flat and low in energy. You can try things like adding beans, lean meats, raw nuts, eggs, broccoli or yoghurt to your diet. These are all great, high-protein foods.
Or, if you are after something sweet (but still healthy), try a bit of chocolate protein powder in your drink or smoothie. It will last a lot longer than a piece of chocolate and do a better job at filling you up (without the sugar!)
Breakfast is king
To avoid the hungry feeling later in the afternoon, be sure to start the day off right with a healthy, nutritious breakfast full of a mix of good fats, protein and carbohydrates. You know what they say: “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper!”
Image Credits: Photo by Vladislav Muslakov – Unsplash, Photo by Nathan Dumlao – Unsplash