Why am I always tired in the afternoon? Tips to combat the post-lunch slump

We’ve had the right amount of sleep the night before, we’ve had a healthy breakfast and ploughed through loads of important work all morning.

Then the seemingly inevitable happens – the mid-afternoon slump.   

The productivity of morning gives way to the procrastination of afternoon and we spend our post-lunch hours in a haze of yawning and clock-watching.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. The mid-afternoon slump is far from inevitable and there are plenty of ways to keep your energy levels up.

Here are just a few… 

Why do I get tired in the afternoon?

There are a few established reasons why many of us suffer a slump around the 3pm mark.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Dr Fiona Kerr, a neuro specialist from the University of Adelaide, explains that humans are programmed to need two sleeps a day.

She says: “Human beings are biphasic (physically designed for two sleeps a day), with two major bodily rhythms (homeostatic sleep drive and circadian arousal) which pull us in different directions in terms of staying awake or sleeping, but they align in the middle of the day to create a ‘nap zone’.”

However, while we are naturally programmed to need forty winks in the afternoon, there are other things that affect our alertness – like what we put in our bodies.

A poor diet, full of sugar and fat may give us a temporary sugar rush, but is no substitute for a balanced diet containing plenty of protein and complex carbohydrates that help to keep us going for sustained periods. 

How can I stop getting tired in the afternoon?

There are many different tips and tricks offered up to help you stay alert in the afternoon – here are a couple of our favourites… 

Take an afternoon nap

As we are programmed to need an afternoon nap, then the answer may seem obvious – take a nap!

Dr Kerr and other professionals recommend a nap of no more than 45 minutes to help you feel more alert in the afternoon. Any more than that and you enter slow-wave sleep, meaning it’s harder for you to wake up and you will feel even groggier than before.

However, while even Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy were both firm believers in getting some afternoon shut eye, crawling under your desk for a doze isn’t practical for most people.

Which is where diet comes into things… 

Tasty and healthy dishes on the table

Eat the right foods

Ensure you eat a balanced diet full of protein and complex carbohydrates throughout the day to ensure you stay energised for longer and are better equipped to stave off the afternoon tiredness.

Protein is abundant in foods such as chicken breast, nuts, and eggs.

Meanwhile, foods such as brown rice and sweet potatoes are packed with complex carbohydrates and are great, simple additions to many lunches.

If you do need a quick pick-me-up in the afternoon though, then going for a brisk walk to warm your body up can also help keep you alert, while a Berocca Boost is specially formulated to give you a kick when you really need it as it contains caffeine.

Containing several B vitamins – B1, B2, Niacin, B6, B12 Biotin and Pantothenic acid – that help your body convert food to fuel, as well as caffeine to help alertness and concentration*, Berocca Boost is the perfect mid-afternoon slump buster.

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*Contains caffeine which helps improve alertness. Do not exceed 400mg of caffeine per day. Not suitable for those pregnant or breastfeeding.