How to beat the post-lunch slump as Britons go back to work after holidays

Research has revealed the afternoon slump hits at 2.36pm. (Getty Images)
Research has revealed the afternoon slump hits at 2.36pm. (Getty Images)

As Britons get back to work after a long Christmas and New Year break, many of us may be feeling sluggish as we try to get back into the groove.

But after lunchtime today, concentration levels may fall even further than usual and you might be tempted to have a little snooze or chug an energy drink.

The afternoon slump is oh-so real. One minute you’re busting through the deadlines, the next you’re fighting the urge not to fall asleep on your desk.

If the hours after lunch are a daily struggle, you’re certainly not alone as research, by ProteinWorks, has found that Google searches for "how to avoid mid afternoon slump" have increased by 167% over the past year.

Further stats also found that we hit the peak of our mid-afternoon slump at exactly 2.36pm.

The study, of 2,000 adults by Vitabiotics Feroglobin, found this post-lunch lull has some pretty extreme impacts on our working lives, with 12% admitting to have fallen asleep in a meeting and 10% saying it has caused them to make a mistake at work.

A lack of sleep was found to be the top cause of an energy slump for almost half (45%), followed by not drinking enough water (25%), not exercising (22%) and not having the right foods to hand to snack on (21%).

But almost a fifth blamed it on having to complete a boring activity while 12% suffer a slump when they are in a meeting that goes on for too long.

The afternoon slump is real. (Getty Images)
The afternoon slump is real. (Getty Images)

"Most people feel a dip in energy between 1pm - 3pm as it is part of your body’s natural circadian rhythm," explains Marisa Peer therapist and weight management expert.

"Over-eating, the ambient temperature and whether the sun is shining or not can also affect your energy levels.

"Similarly, having sat in front of a computer or been at work for the majority of the day, you’ll feel tired from concentrating and perhaps a little bored."

While many of us will be tempted to reach for the coffee to give ourselves a caffeine hit, there are some other simple ways to boost your energy in the pm.

Get up from your desk

Stepping away from your desk and stretching is a good way to get your body moving and feel more awake.

"When we sit for long periods our body generates less energy, it saves it because there’s no need to give you more energy if you’re sat down," explains body and mindset coach, Adam Grayston.

"One of the fastest ways to increase your energy in the afternoon is to get up and go for a short walk to get your muscles working and your heart pumping, even if it’s just 10 or 15 minutes.

"Research is consistently showing us that just walking has a positive impact on energy levels as well as stress and wellbeing on a day to day basis."

Getting up from your desk and going for a 10 minute walk can boost your energy. (Getty Images)
Getting up from your desk and going for a 10 minute walk can boost your energy. (Getty Images)

Eat little and often

According to Sas Parsad, founder of The Gut Co our gut really has a huge influence on our overall energy levels and mood as the majority of our serotonin as well as other important hormones are modulated in our gut.

"Whilst eating every 2-3 hours may not seem natural to many of us that have been taught the three meals a day trope, there are some benefits to eating little and often," he says. "It can keep your energy levels steady throughout the day, which avoids slumping in the afternoon."

Do something fun

It is important to look after your mind as well as your body as stress, anxiety and poor mental health can all contribute to low energy levels leading to an afternoon dip.

"Doing something you enjoy for a short while or something that relaxes you may just help you avoid the dreaded slump and help you feel better," Parsad says. "Mindfulness and yoga can both be fantastic for reducing stress."

Watch: Five ways to boost energy levels

Up the H2O

Hydration is another important factor for energy levels, with studies revealing that if you’re 1% dehydrated you can can a drop in energy levels of 10%.

"Make sure you have water at your desk everyday and drink around two litres," suggests Grayston. "If you don’t like the taste then mix it with some squash or slices of fruit to give it some flavour."

Do some post-lunch exercise

Avoid the afternoon slump by getting your post-Pret sweat on.

"For some, the afternoon slump can occur due to poor digestion," explains Parsad.

"Something as simple as 10-minutes of exercise can aid in moving the food through the digestive tract, whilst releasing endorphins that are known to perk us up."

Science backs this theory up too with research revealing that exercising on your break can improve concentration and productivity at work.

The study, by Bristol University, examined the results of 200 people with desk jobs who used worksite-provided facilities, such as a gym or exercise classes.

It found that even a small amount of exercise can increase your endorphins, boosting your mood and energy levels instantly.

Upping your water intake could boost your afternoon energy. (Getty Images)
Upping your water intake could boost your afternoon energy. (Getty Images)

Collaborate with your colleagues

According to Peer collaborative work is a good thing to focus on in the afternoon as the energy of the group will also help to boost you too.

"You could try listening to upbeat music too," she adds.

Have a protein-rich snack

It’s tempting to reach for the chocolate when you hit the afternoon slump, but switching sugar for something healthier can help you avoid that lethargy.

"Protein will help stabilise your blood sugar levels throughout the day and keep you fuller to prevent those energy dips," nutritionist Jenna Hope suggests.

"Swap your sugary snacks for protein rich foods such as: eggs, hummus and carrots, nuts and seeds or Greek yoghurt topped with cinnamon and berries."

Get your Vitamins in

According to Hope Vitamin B12 is essential for red blood cell production and energy metabolism. "Sources include: eggs, meat and fish," she adds.

"Vitamins B1, B3 and B6 are also all essential in the energy yielding metabolism," Hope continues. "This means that they are essential in converting food into energy. Therefore a deficiency in these vitamins could lead to low energy levels and feelings of fatigue. Key sources include: nuts, seeds and fish."

Additional reporting SWNS.

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