Notice there is no alarm buzzing here. That’s because you just fell asleep at your desk… at 2:45p.m.
As many employers will point out, sleeping at your desk is not a benefit you receive for doing good work the other seven hours of your workday.
One very important way to kick the sleep tendency is with what you eat/drink. Foods with loads of sugar, little to no fiber or nutrients and that are highly processed (white bread, donuts, candy bars) are not considered ‘good fuel’ for keeping you energized the rest of the day. Foods like that are glycemic index (GI) nightmares. Any food that sends your blood sugar through the roof then crashing in a few hours is going to send your forehead straight to your desk for an afternoon siesta.
Strategies for Avoiding the Mid-Day Slump:
1. Get more sleep at night.
Lack of sleep has a negative effect on your decision-making processes, which are critical skills in your daily life work life, and could really affect your food choices! According to the National Commission of Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR), $15.9 million a year is spent in direct correlation to sleep deprivation, sleep disorders and sleepiness. To keep this number on the lower scale of insanity, our circadian rhythms – patterns of behavior that follow a (approximately) 24-hour cycle – tell us when to sleep. These rhythms can be influenced by factors such as jet lag or working long hours without sleep. Keeping regular hours of sleep and work helps insure that performance in our working hours and sleep are both the best they can be.
2. Start your attack on mid-day exhaustion with breakfast.
Eat whole foods rich in fiber and protein (ie: oatmeal, nuts, and fruit). These foods will keep your body going until lunch. Also, for some people, exercise is a great way to get going in the morning; some feel sluggish all day without it! Just be sure to fuel properly afterwards to get the most benefit from the workout.
3. Pay attention to your beverages (coffee consumption).
Rather than drinking two cups in the morning, try to drink a cup and a half slowly throughout the day. Caffeine and coffee can be difficult to manipulate in your morning routine, so try several ways to see which keeps you feeling awake and alert. Do you feel best with one cup at breakfast and one at lunch? Perhaps one cup first thing and slowly nursing another throughout the day would prevent crashing and burning when the caffeine wears off. Try to avoid increasing your intake and experiment with the times you consume caffeine. And even better… reach for a spot of tea!
4. At lunch, balance your plate.
Vegetables – either raw or cooked, a little unsaturated fat for satiety and taste (avocado, nuts, olive oil, etc.) and choose a complex carbohydrate option, and of course your protein fix (beans and nuts are also great additives or sides). These items have several attributes in common: they are low in sugar, are whole foods and have nutrients designed to fill you up and keep you full.
If you still fear the 2-3 p.m. slump, try some of these snacks for a boost (use portion control for a snack and not a meal):
-Mixed nuts (unsalted)
-Greek yogurt (plain), and add a dash of cinnamon
-Crunchy raw vegetables (snap peas, carrots, radish, cucumber)
*This might seem slightly strange, but save a quarter of your lunch foods in the refrigerator or put them out of sight. When a nap tempts you, and you still feel hungry..nibble on the leftovers. This way, you’re getting the full nutrients of your lunch and you don’t have to wrack your brain for another snack option; your mornings are probably hectic enough. Still be conscious of controlling your portions, however.
5. Drink more water.
Another strategy to combat sleepiness at work is to keep a regular schedule of water consumption. Water has no sugar or extra calories and can help you maintain that full feeling even after you have finished your food. If you begin to feel hungry, drink some water and wait 30 minutes to see if the hunger persists. This helps with the ‘bored munchies’ and keeps you hydrated. Be wary of any other sweetened beverages that may have the opposite effect. And if you are the type of person who gets bored of water, try Patty’s Fountain of Youth recipe for an extra zing of energy and hydration!
6. Get moving!
Even if walking around is a lap around the office to use the restroom, getting the blood pumping will push away an impending nap forecast for the afternoon. Chained to your desk? Stretch your arms and move your legs. Give a couple strong fist pumps and foot stomps; you’ll keep office gossip interesting and yourself out of snooze-land.