How many of us are accustomed to the ‘afternoon slump'? You may start your day full swing, being productive, creative and energetic and think ‘Wow! This feels good!' You have a list of tasks in mind that you want to complete. You take a quick break for lunch and plan on getting right back to your tasks. Does it seem like the game changes after lunch? You find yourself yawning, your attention wandering and your thoughts unfocussed and all you really want to do is take a nap.
How can you get a quick energy boost to keep yourself going?
Afternoon sleepiness is like the drowsiness you feel just before bedtime. The body temperature is lowered which signals the brain to release melatonin; this is part of the body's internal clock. But it also has a lot to do with your eating habits too.
If you feel this way, ask yourself these questions:
• Did I eat breakfast?
• What did I eat for breakfast?
• What did I eat for lunch?
Not starting the day with a healthy breakfast can lead to a crash in energy by mid-afternoon. A cup of coffee or tea for breakfast and a samosa for lunch will not give you long term energy. These beverages contain sugar and caffeine, although they are stimulants, both products can make you feel sleepy after the initial surge of energy they provide. The way the body processes sugar and caffeine can lead to fatigue.
Start your day with a nutritious breakfast. It does not have to be complicated; you can try the following options.
• A bowl of porridge (oats/ ragi/ multigrain/ dalia) or muesli with skim milk/ soy milk, nuts and fresh fruit
• Two slices of brown bread/ multigrain toast with peanut butter and a banana
• A healthy brown bread sandwich with cut vegetables/ boiled egg whites/ roasted chicken. Have this with mint chutney and avoid mayonnaise or butter.
• 2 ragi/ rava idlis with a cup of sambhar and 2 tsp. mint or coriander chutney
• 1 plate of upma with lots of vegetables and 1 cup of curd
• A dal paratha with a spoonful of tomato chutney
• A plate of dalia prepared with vegetables or soy nuggets
You need a protein and a carbohydrate at breakfast. The brain and muscles function best with energy from carbohydrates. Protein helps boost concentration levels. You focus better with a balanced breakfast.
Lunch should be equally healthy and well balanced. Avoid high calorie and fatty foods as these are difficult to digest and can make you feel sluggish. Here again a flavoured rice or chapathi with vegetable is not enough. Include a protein source like dal, pulses, egg whites or lean meat such as chicken or fish and a healthy salad.
After lunch get moving, take a walk around your office campus or climb stairs at office. Getting some exercise and a change of place helps to re-energize and focus on tasks better. Drink water when you feel sleepy. Walk over to the filter and drink 1-2 glasses of water, water helps prevent lethargy as it prevents dehydration. You can also have a healthy snack by 4 pm, like fruit, nuts, green tea etc.
Limiting your caffeine intake reduces the amount of stress hormones in the body. Controlling sugar intake will also help you stay alert and active during the day.
Watch out for hidden sugar in juices, sodas, sweets and desserts. If you are having a thali meal for lunch, avoid the sweet. Do not add extra sugar to your beverages and fruit juices.
A small change can go a long way in preventing the afternoon slump!