Why Your Energy Drops Mid-Afternoon

Do you suddenly feel like taking a nap mid-afternoon when you know you're supposed to be making progress on that report for your boss? Or do you have a hard time making big decisions after a big lunch? If you often find yourself feeling fatigued in the middle of the afternoon, you're not alone. 

The afternoon drop in energy, fatigue, crash, or slump is partially due to our natural circadian rhythms, which govern our sleep patterns. According to Greatist, our body sends sleep signals in the afternoon around 2 p.m. as well as at late at night. In addition to that biological factor, things like too much screen time early in the day, a lack of sleep the night before, a heavy meal at lunch, mild dehydration, or a caffeine buzz that's finally fading may be to blame. Dr. Stacy Sims suggests that your midday malaise may also be due to high levels of stress (via Women's Running). 

While it's difficult to change your body's circadian rhythms, you can add some small healthy tweaks to your day to help you power through that midday urge to crawl under your desk and take a quick snooze.

How to fight mid-afternoon fatigue

One way to get more energy is to overhaul your diet. If you regularly skip breakfast and then make up for it at lunch, it's time to change your eating habits. High-sugar lunches can make you feel sluggish in the afternoon while eating a healthy breakfast and lunch packed with protein and complex carbohydrates will keep your energy steady throughout the day. And for every cup of coffee, make sure you're also sipping a glass of water to stay at an optimal hydration status (via the University of Rochester Medical Center). 

You should also move around. Often, we've been glued to our desks for most of the morning, likely even eating lunch while staring at the screen. Even if you can only take a few minutes, get up and walk around and stretch. If you can get outside to get some natural sunlight and a minute in nature, even better. Exposure to nature has been shown to boost creativity and mood.

Consider scheduling conference calls. You may not like conference calls or meetings, but scheduling them during your least productive point of the day will force you to perk up to take part in them. Having something you can't avoid — unlike writing that report — on your calendar helps to keep you on track (via RescueTime). 

Finally, check in on your sleep. If you're not getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night, you may find that no matter what you do to stave off afternoon fatigue, it will return. You may need to try an earlier bedtime if you want to be energized at the office.