2:00 pm – there it is, the mid-day slump that sends you reaching for a cup of coffee. Why does it happen, and why does it only seem to be getting worse with age? Isn’t there anything you can do to stop it? The answer to the first part of the question has to do with circadian rhythms, the internal clock that regulates wakefulness and sleepiness. From the time we are infants, there is a natural dip in energy levels that occurs mid-day. When we’re younger, we actually get the opportunity to nap at this time. Or, alternatively, we’re filled with so much youthful energy that we can push through with no real problem.
As we age, naptime goes away and peak energy levels still come in much lower than they did at the age of 5 (if you’ve ever seen a toddler run around with wild abandon and gotten tired just watching, you’ll be able to appreciate the sharp contrast in energy levels). But, there are some things you may be doing that are making the slump even worse. Modifying those behaviors can help you look, act and feel younger. Begin with adequate levels of restful sleep at night. Try for seven hours a night, but no less than six whenever you can. The key here is that it be restful sleep. Just because you went to bed at midnight doesn’t mean that’s when you fell asleep. If you have a lot of sugar or caffeine prior to bedtime, you’re cutting into your sleep.
Similarly, if you’re out partying on a given night, your body isn’t actually sleeping as well as it could be. If it’s working to process alcohol in your system, it’s not resting and restoring itself for the upcoming day. To help with this, stop drinking at least an hour before you intend to head home and start filling up on water to help jump start the body’s return to homeostasis. Next, look to your daily diet. If you’re filling up on carb-heavy lunches or snacks, you’re going to get a big crash as your body works to process that extra rush of blood sugar. Fruit, veggies, salads and clear-broth soups are good choices for work lunches and snacks as they won’t cause a crash while they’re being digested. Even better, try to include some good energy-rich fats in your diet like those in nuts or yogurt. If all else fails, get yourself some sunlight. Take a quick walk around the block in the sun and you’ll help reset your circadian clock to recognize it’s day time and you should be awake. The fact that it happens to be a bit chilly outside right now can help wake you up a bit too.