We all know that familiar 4pm feeling when the day is not done but you most definitely are. The afternoon energy slump is completely normal but it can be a real pain when you’ve still got things to do.
Feeling tired or sluggish is hardly conducive to a productive afternoon so in a bid to curb our sleepiness most of us tend to reach for a caffeine fix or a sweet treat (otherwise known as a dopamine hit) to boost our energy.
In my last blog post, I talked all about how we often crave a dopamine hit in the form of sugary foods when we’re feeling low – but unfortunately for us, giving into our cravings can actually do more harm than good.
Dopamine causes our blood sugar to spike and subsequently crash, meaning your sugary snack might get you through the next hour with a temporary energy boost, but you are simply delaying your 4pm crash to 5pm.
So, what else causes the afternoon lull?
It’s not just our sweet treats that are causing our crashes. Our bodies naturally produce cortisol and melatonin in a cycle called the circadian rhythm – cortisol keeps us awake and ready for the day and melatonin helps us relax and get sleepy in the evening. So, as we head towards the late afternoon and our body begins to produce the ‘sleepy’ hormone, it’s only natural that we start feeling a little less energised.
The good news is, there are ways to help you stay energized throughout the day – we’ve touched on the two main reasons you might be experiencing the 4pm slump; diet and lifestyle – so let’s look at them in a little more detail to find a solution.
How does your diet affect energy levels?
A balanced diet has plenty of benefits – not least, to help you sustain good energy levels throughout the day. When we eat dopamine spiking-foods or foods that contain high sugar content, our energy levels spike and crash causing you to crave more of that food – welcome aboard the blood sugar rollercoaster.
What’s the solution? Eat balanced meals throughout the day that consist of whole foods. In every meal try to get a good source of fibre, protein, and healthy fats to slow down the release of sugar into your bloodstream. You’ll feel fuller for longer, lighter, less tired and have better sustained energy levels throughout the day.
Struggling for meal ideas? Keep reading!
How does your lifestyle affect energy levels?
Poor lifestyle habits like lack of sleep, limited exercise or insufficient stress management can impact your energy levels to no end.
What’s the solution? It’s important to remember that all of these things can have an impact on each other and small changes to your lifestyle can make a big difference. For example, regular exercise can help you sleep better which can in turn help you be more productive and manage your stress more efficiently. Similarly, better stress management can improve your sleep, help you get through the day without a dopamine fix and still have enough energy to exercise or do the things that you love.
What to do when you hit the 4pm crash
In an ideal world, you’ll have already been implementing the diet and lifestyle changes we’ve recommended above, however, if you’re still feeling the effects of the 4pm lull – here’s what I recommend…
1. Have a big glass of water
Dehydration can make us feel tired, sluggish and hungry. Try staying hydrated or get yourself a big glass of water when you’re starting to dip. Still hungry?
2. Prepare a healthy snack
Stock your cupboards with healthy snacks for easy-reaching when at home or on the go! I’ve posted some tasty snack ideas on my Facebook group if you’re lacking easy-to-make ideas to curb those sugar-spiking cravings.
3. Take a break or make your afternoons less intense
If you can, try and take a break in the afternoon. It’s natural for our bodies to start slowing down so it’s okay to lean into this sometimes. Or, if it’s available for you, try curating your days so the hard stuff gets done in the mornings and the afternoons go at a slower pace.
If you’re still itching to grab your favourite sweet treat or caffeine fix, take a moment to reflect on why you’re feeling like this. Did you get a bad nights’ sleep? Have you eaten balanced meals today? Are your stress levels high? Or is it just a habit that you’re struggling to drop?
Taking a moment to really think about why we feel a certain way can help us to combat it at the source. Those mindful moments can be so important when you’re trying to make changes to your lifestyle.
Ready to curb your cravings, feel more energised and kick start healthy changes that last a lifetime?
Join my 5-day group detox starting Monday 12th July where I’ll be supporting you through a 5-day programme to reset your eating habits and learn how to give your body exactly what it wants.
With meal plans, group support and materials that will help you kick start weight loss with new healthy lifestyle habits, you’ll end the 5-day programme with better energy levels, delicious healthy recipes, plenty of support and all the information you need to start feeling great again!