It’s currently 2:07pm. If you’re anything like me today, you’ve gotten way too excited by the delicious chicken and bacon club sandwich at your local café and now you’re suffering the dreaded 2pm slump.
Yes, it’s actually a real thing! A recent survey of 2,000 workers found that employees get sleepy after lunch up to three times a week.
With up to three quarters of employees noticing their colleagues crashing around the same time, the combined lack of concentration can lead to unnecessary mistakes, low productivity and increased conflict.
In this article, we discuss the most common reasons for the mid-afternoon slump and what tips you and your employees can take to beat the impending fog.
Why you hit the wall
Often the cause of the afternoon slump is your body’s natural circadian rhythm, which regulates the timings of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day, with one of the strongest sleepy stages occurring between 1–3pm.
While this is just one reason, there are a few other likely suspects:
- That giant club sandwich I was telling you about: Eating too much food or the wrong kinds of food can lead you down the sleepy path. Often foods with a high glycemic index give a quick energy boost, but are quickly used up. This creates a mid-afternoon dip in blood sugar levels, which results in low energy.
- Busy and big: Workload that is. Fatigue can be brought on from a long and busy day, staring at a computer screen with the added pressure of a high workload.
- Time to go carbon neutral: Researchers have found that high levels of carbon dioxide in offices could be affecting our concentration and decision-making abilities. This increases in smaller spaces, such as meeting rooms, which could explain why you struggle to stay awake during afternoon meetings.
Tips to stay on track
If you’re sick of emailing the wrong person or yawning your way through another meeting, consider these tips:
- Oh my quad: Get walking, take the stairs or consider a desk lunge! Anything that can get your blood pumping and give your mind time to refocus will help to refresh you for the afternoon ahead. Click here for our guide on getting your workplace more active.
- H2…Slow: It’s the classic ‘hydrate’ reminder! Consider this: according to research at the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory, test subjects who were mildly dehydrated in the study showed signs of headaches, fatigue, anxiety and difficulty concentrating. Here is the part where I enthusiastically recommend you invest in a decent size water bottle, so you don’t just drink one lonely glass of water all day. At a minimum, ensure you fill it up before you start work, at lunch and before your commute home.
- The munchies: Focus on tasty, high protein snacks to battle your yawns away, such as mixed nuts, tuna or cheese on crackers, vegetable sticks and hummus or Greek yoghurt and fruit.
- The right light: Even just 20 minutes exposure to bright white light increased alertness and boosted the brain's responses, with light decreasing your body producing the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. If you know you usually feel sleepy at a certain time in the afternoon, try to get out for that walk earlier.
Get back on track and you and your employees will maintain a high standard of work and most importantly be happy and well-rested.
If you think you could improve the way you manage fatigue, have a chat with us and make sure you don’t end up managing an injury that could have been avoided. You can also download the poster below to promote better sleeping habbits in your workplace.