It happens to the best of us — a couple of hours after lunch, a couple of hours before quitting time, and it hits: the middle-of-the-workday slump.
For most of us, that mid-afternoon slump is the time of day the coffee pot starts looking really tempting. Of course, caffeine is a popular energy booster, the one most Americans turn to when they want to keep from falling asleep or zoning out. But too much caffeine isn’t always healthy.
Luckily, there are plenty of easy, natural ways you can stay awake and alert at work without using caffeine.
1. Get up and get moving
Sitting causes you to be drowsier, in addition to the other health risks it poses. Standing up while you work can stimulate your muscles and metabolism to help you stay alert and focused.
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Even better is a quick lap around the office, or a 10-minute walk outside. Taking short exercise breaks decreases drowsiness and causes energy spikes. Anything you can do to get your heart rate up and your muscles working will help revitalize you part way through the day.
2. Grab a healthy snack
Low blood sugar is a common cause of drowsiness, so a healthy snack can get your blood sugar back to normal and boost your energy. Plus, a good snack has nutrients to help you stay awake and power through your day.
Eating a very heavy lunch (such as one filled with carbs) can make your afternoon exhaustion even worse. Instead of a large lunch, snack throughout the day to get bursts of energy. Try one of these healthy snacks to increase your energy:
- Bananas and peanut butter
- Crackers and hummus
- Fruit and nuts
- Nonfat yogurt
- Protein-filled granola bar
3. Stay well-hydrated
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Dehydration causes sleepiness and fatigue, among other adverse health effects. Keep a water bottle with you at all times, and be sure to drink throughout the afternoon to stay fresh and alert.
4. Find a source of sensory stimulation
Try one of the following tips to engage both your brain and your senses:
- Stay in a well-lit area – too much dimness leads to drowsiness.
- Chew ice or gum to get your mouth moving and your taste buds stimulated.
- Listen to music (the kind that won’t distract you) to stay awake and improve your concentration.
Based in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and more than 700 doctor’s offices and outpatient centers. Our expert physicians are among the leaders in their fields, and we are leaders in groundbreaking research and treatment breakthroughs. UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside ranks as “One of America’s Best Hospitals” and No. 1 in Pennsylvania in U.S. News & World Report’s listings.