Do you suffer from low energy at work? It’s a common problem, also known as the post-lunch lull, that can cause your productivity flow to grind to a halt. Here’s how to get more energy at work, or you can jump to our cheat sheet at the end of this article.

What Causes Low Energy After Lunch?

If you feel tired after lunch, you’re not alone. It’s actually so common, that it has its own name. The post-lunch dip has millions of American grasping for the coffee come 2 pm. But what causes it?

The body is governed by a 24-hour clock, called a circadian rhythm. There’s more than one type, and your type is called a chronotype. This dictates when you’re most active…and most sleepy. Not everybody is impacted by the post-lunch dip.

According to a study by The New York Times, some of the population is unaffected by sleepiness after lunch. But 15% of the population are “closet nappers” and frequently hide out in their cars or closets to sneak a quick nap between 2pm and 4pm. It’s not just food that causes an onset of drowsiness — our bodies are genetically coded to rest during this time.

So what can you do if your chronotype is hardwired to snooze after lunch? If you’re part of the 15% of Americans who fight sleepiness in the afternoon, consider taking a power nap on your lunch break. While it’s unprofessional to fall asleep in your office, excuse yourself for lunch and take a 30 minute power nap in your car. Set an alarm on your phone so you don’t accidentally oversleep.

A NASA study found that pilots were more alert after a 40-minute siesta, compared to other pilots who didn’t nap.

If napping is not an option, try some of the tips from our infographic on how to stay awake — naturally.

How to Boost Natural Energy

If you’re up against a hard deadline, grabbing a sugary snack and an energy drink can help you through that last hurdle. But like enjoying too many drinks on a night out, they’ll be a price to pay later.

Energy drinks, such as Red Bull, have been banned in France, Germany, Norway, and Uruguay. While the former have since relaxed restrictions on taurine, the amino acid contained in many energy drinks, Uruguay has kept the ban in place. There have been several documented deaths related to an overdose of caffeine, which is why some countries heavily regulate the sale of these booster drinks.

So what’s the secret to long-lasting and sustainable energy? Eat healthy, sleep well, and get enough exercise. If you’ve neglected any of these three energy essentials, here are some tips to get natural energy:

  1. Get your blood pumping. Run a flight of stairs, or take a brisk walk around the block. Any activity that gets your blood flowing can oxygenate your brain, and improve feelings of fatigue. Studies have found overwhelming evidence that those with a regular exercise schedule have more energy than those without.
  2. Drink green tea. Despite the caffeine, green tea is incredibly good for you. Japanese researchers found that endurance athletes who consumed four cups of green tea every day showed a performance increase between 8 and 24 percent over a 12 week period.
  3. Chill out. The emotions associated with stress consume a huge amount of energy, which is why you feel so exhausted when you’re going through an emotional crisis. Meditation and breathing exercises can help regulate stress, which in turn saves the energy you would have spent worrying about something.
  4. Drink water. It’s the same advice you’ll receive time and time again, because it really is a cure-all! Dehydration is the leading cause of fatigue, so drink up.
  5. Eat at regular intervals. Skipping breakfast and gorging on a carb-heavy lunch is a surefire way to invite the post-lunch dip. Choose a protein-rich lunch with a side of vegetables instead.
  6. Keep healthy snacks on hand. Keep a baggie of pumpkin seeds or almonds at your desk to avoid the temptation of reaching for a Snickers when you start to feel a crash coming on.
  7. Spruce up your desk. Offices devoid of pictures, plants, or personal objects are “the most toxic space for a human being” according to new research. Adding personal details to your desk will boost your mood and elevate your energy.
  8. Grab a desk plant. While you’re sprucing up your workspace, add a small desk plant. Research concluded that people exposed to plants are more productive. By getting through your to-do list faster, you’ll have more natural energy to spend on other tasks.
  9. Stop, collaborate and listen. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted at work, collaborate with your colleagues and redistribute some of your work load. Check out our review of the best project management systems for team collaboration.
  10. Take a nap. If you can’t fight that sleepy feeling, retreat to your car for a 30 minute powernap.      

How to Get More Energy At Work

Try using some of the tips and techniques listed below to power through your energy lows and come back out on top.

How to Get More Energy

How to Get More Energy After Work

If you leave work and feel like hitting the pillow straight away, it can be a struggle to achieve that hallowed work/life balance professionals hear so much about. If your chronotype makes you allergic to mornings, you probably prefer hitting the gym after work. The catch? You’re too tired to go! Likewise if you have dinner plans or other night-time arrangements. Here’s how you can get be more productive at the end of your business day:

  1. Leave your gym bag in the car and change at work, then go straight away. By not going home first, you remove an extra step and can ride that energy straight to the treadmill!
  2. Have a 4 PM snack to refuel. Nutritionists recommend an apple and almond butter to rev you up for the night ahead.
  3. Fill up on carbs if you’re going to the bar. Carbs can help absorb alcohol. Left unchecked, alcohol can seriously mess up your sleep schedule.
  4. Don’t check your emails. Studies have found that working over 50 hours a week makes employees less productive and more prone to burnout, AKA chronic exhaustion.
  5. See a doctor. Constant fatigue can be a sign of an underlying health issue. If you’re getting enough sleep and still find yourself struggling to stay awake come quitting time, you should visit your doctor for a quick check up.

Sources:

WellBeing Secrets | Chronobiology | Fast Company | LiveScience | ScienceDaily | NCBI | Amerisleep | The Telegraph | The Washington Post