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Having Afternoon Fatigue? Best Tips To Help!
Everyone knows that feeling: the clock hits 2 p.m., and suddenly your energy levels drop. You’re drowsy, maybe a little irritable, and concentrating on work seems three times harder than it did in the morning. Your afternoon fatigue is a constant inconvenience, and it always seems to hit the hardest when there’s an important meeting or class in school.
The most obvious solution is to simply grab a coffee. This is, in part, the reason why caffeine consumption and dependency has become the norm rather than the exception in the industrialized world. As the economy grew bigger and more competitive, workdays became longer and overseers expected workers to remain focused and productive for longer hours than previous generations had ever been asked to. In order to combat the natural dip in energy that occurs in the midday time range, coffee and tea exploded in popularity.
But why does the decrease in energy occur in the first place?What if it were possible to maintain higher, more balanced levels of energy without stimulants, and to change our lifestyles in such a way that the dip in energy was less severe?
The truth is, there is some good news and some bad news when it comes to solving this issue. To a certain extent, the dip in energy in the afternoon is unavoidable. It is a natural biological process which we’ll explore in the next section. But here’s the good news: you can make changes in your diet and lifestyle that will significantly i
This article is intended for those who want to explore ways to reduce afternoon fatigue without resorting to stimulants like caffeine.
The Circadian Rhythm
The circadian rhythm is a biological process that occurs in all humans and animals, as well as plants, fungi and certain types of bacteria. Basically, it is the body’s internal clock that regulates when certain biological functions should occur. It tells your body when it’s time to go to sleep, when it’s time to wake up, to eat, and more. The circadian rhythm is an endogenous process, meaning the body generates these signals on its own. It is important to note that external factors such as the sun can also have an influence on it. (Sunlight, for instance, triggers the “wake up” signal in the brain. If you want to sleep later, try drawing the curtains shut in your bedroom window to block the sun from getting in.) The circadian rhythm plays a role in regulating energy levels over the course of the day.
With regards to sleep, the body is actually regulated by two cycles: the circadian and homeostatic sleep cycles. In the afternoon, these two cycles actually align with one another, and create a feeling of tiredness.
In ancient times, it was normal to take a nap in the middle of the day to allow the body to rest and recuperate, and escape the heat if it was warm climate. In some Mediterranean cultures, this survives in the form of the siesta custom, where shops and restaurants close for a few hours during the late afternoon.
The truth is, your body is actually biologically designed to take a nap in the middle of the day.
In the absence of modern, unhealthy diets and caffeine, this dip in energy is mild, and after a brief rest, a person can resume activity with no problem.
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Practical Steps You Can Take
Of course, we don’t live in a prehistoric world where people don’t have schedules to keep. In a world of 9-5 jobs and commutes, modern people resort to stimulants and sugary, high-carb foods to keep them on their feet. Ironically, these practices may actually be exacerbating the afternoon tiredness problem they are intended to solve.
First of all, make sure you’re getting enough sleep. The average person needs 6-8 hours each night. Insomnia can ruin your quality of life and your performance at work or school, and it is imperative that you deal with this problem if it applies to you.
The next step is to reduce the amounts of simple carbs and refined sugars in your diet, especially in the morning. These foods create spikes in blood sugar levels which cause an initial increase in energy followed by a crash. In order to recuperate, people often simply eat more of these foods, and the cycle repeats. This sugar/carb energy spike and crash cycle makes the midafternoon energy dip far worse than it normally would be.
Caffeine does work, and for most people the pros outweigh the cons. But it is worth noting that the body does not actually NEED this drug. Many people who quit caffeine altogether report experiencing a more stable, balanced level of energy throughout the day once their body has adjusted. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, you may wish to experiment with this.
Lastly, if it is an “off day” for you, why not just go ahead and take a nap? Sometimes a 20-minute nap is all it takes to fully recharge your batteries. A lot can be said for simply listening to your body’s signals instead of fighting them.
READ ALSO: 12 Super Foods that Fight Fatigue and Win!
Get a proper amount of sleep and and make these simple changes to your lifestyle and diet, and in no time at all, your debilitating afternoon fatigue will be a thing of the past.