Many of us these days work desk jobs. The world is becoming more and more automated every day leading to a larger number people sitting down behind a computer plugging away at their careers. I know that often times the hardest part of the day to get through can be the afternoon.
Many of us begin to feel extremely sluggish in the afternoon, meetings wear you down, your brain gets tired, and really you just want to head for home or the gym as soon as you get the chance.
The afternoon usually is the time of day when you are least productive. I bet you’re wondering why you are so tired in the afternoon. There’s plenty of reasons that I will talk about in this article. I will also share 3 key ways to avoid getting tired in the afternoon.
Why so tired?
There are many reasons people get tired later in the day. Usually people have all their energy in the morning, directly after a nice steamy shower or rocking out to some tunes on the radio on the way to work.
As the day goes on your work can begin to wear on you. When the end of the day is nearing I begin to lose focus, I start yawning, and I generally shut down.
This is probably part of the reason that the 4 hour work day is such a hot topic of conversation. This is also why the heavy hitting tech corporations have begun to create a fun, engaging environment for their employees.
Usually there are three main causes that I have been able to attribute tiredness to. These include:
- Eating a Heavy Lunch
- Caffeine Come Down
- Stagnation at The Desk
I know these probably seem obvious, but if you are tired, chances are one of these three things is the root cause. I have solutions for you that are actually pretty simple to adopt.
1. Eat a Lighter Lunch
With the world moving towards healthy options such as local cafes, delis, and sustainable fast food joints there is no reason we should be wolfing down that giant greasy burger during the lunch hour. I know these are delicious sometimes, but chances are it’s making you extremely tired.
The half life of a hamburger is about 90 minutes. Let’s stop and think about this.
When do you get tired? 2:30-3:00?
When do you take your lunch? 12:30-1:30?
Imagine that. The work that your body has to do in order to digest half of a hamburger stops right about the time you get tired. There is no coincidence here as beef and compound carbohydrates take more energy for the body to digest than say a salad with turkey breast or vegetables and fruit.
Start eating a lighter lunch (don’t make yourself hungry) and see what sort of results you have. I stopped eating hard to digest foods at lunch and guess what, I feel like a million bucks in the afternoons. If you need some help starting off check out my wrap recipes.
Feeling more awake is not the only benefit you will see from this. Being more awake translates into more motivation and drive to hit the gym if you are an afternoon gym person. This leads to a more explosive workout and who knows, maybe you’ll even be able to blast through the entirety of my advanced workout plan for dudes.
2. Cut Back on The Caffeine
“Don’t you dare tell me to stop drinking coffee.” is probably what you are thinking after reading that header. I get it, I love my coffee and over the years I even have learned to enjoy the taste of quality black coffee.
I’m simply telling you to keep enjoying that taste but to start drinking less and less and eventually decaf. Don’t quit coffee cold turkey because you will likely feel like total garbage from the caffeine withdrawals and you’ll then just jump right back into drinking coffee because you feel terrible without it.
Most people I know drink 2-3 MUGS of coffee a day. This isn’t your average 8-10 ounce cup, I’m talking heaping mugs of coffee. On top of that they add all sorts of cream and sugar which have their own problems, but we are talking about caffeine for now.
The amount of caffeine in some of the top brand coffees is insane, some can range up to 300-400% of your daily suggested values. Caffeine hangover is a real thing and has been proven by doctors and nutritionists to lead directly to extreme tiredness, inability to concentrate, and irritability.
Let me guess, these are the exact symptoms you are feeling in the afternoon. The caffeine metabolic life is actually pretty short. 4-5 hours is all it takes for the caffeine to wear off completely leading to the symptoms outlined above.
Essentially caffeine is not fixing how tired you really are, it is just blocking your body from realizing it’s tired while the fatigue continues to build up behind the scenes. When the caffeine is finally metabolized you are left as if you just got KO’d by Mayweather.
The solution here is to slowly cut back. If you are drinking 2 cups, drink 1.5 next week. The week after drink 1. Then 0.5, and then cut to Decaf. There is no reason to consume excessive caffeine, and you might even sleep better at night which is important to your overall health.
3. Go For a Walk
Combatting stagnation behind the desk is probably the hardest part. If you aren’t fortunate enough to convince your company to invest in one of those super ergonomic, future-age, fancy stand-up desks then I suggest you get moving in the afternoon at least once.
I have talked about this before, but my company has a monitoring system on the computer that tracks keyboard and mouse activity. After a long period of time sitting in front of the screen it tells me to get up and move about to encourage physical activity and health.
If a large majority of work places are shifting to this mentality, I’m betting that there is some truth to the studies that say you need to have some sort of physical activity throughout the day.
My personal solution is to take a walk. I understand not everyone is fortunate enough to get away from their desk whenever they please, but even if you take a quick walk around the block after you eat this will help fight that fatigue you experience from sitting down all day.
In addition this will help to rest your eyes from all the hours of screen staring that you do over the course of a day. I personally go for a walk directly after eating to get the blood flowing considering I usually eat at my desk. In addition, I try and get out in the afternoon for a 10-15 minute walk near the office when I begin to feel stagnant.
If you implement these three strategies I can almost guarantee you will feel better in the afternoon. The combination of a light lunch, with no more dependency on caffeine, and some relaxation for your brain along with getting the blood flowing is the perfect recipe for a great afternoon.
I have seen my productivity levels increase greatly when I follow these strategies and you can too. I encourage you to give it a shot and come back here and in the comments let me know how you did. If you have better energy for afternoon meetings, you are friendlier to your coworkers, or get more projects completed before going home I want to hear about it. These are all direct results that I have seen and I hope that you see the same results!