Every day around 3pm my desk is unoccupied. You can usually find me in the café buying a large coffee or at the vending machine getting a bottle of soda. Yes, I admit it. I am a victim of the 3 o’clock slump. Whether my day is hectic or uneventful, I can’t help but feel a lull in my energy in the middle of the afternoon.
Why does that happen? According to the National Sleep Foundation, our circadian rhythm varies throughout the day causing us to naturally feel tired at certain times. “Adults’ strongest sleep drive generally occurs between 2:00-4:00 am and in the afternoon between 1:00-3:00 pm”. We’ve talked about how the hours you work can affect your sleep patterns, but there are other factors in your workday that can be encouraging that sleepy afternoon feeling too.
If you spend the majority of your day looking at a computer screen (guilty!) it could be contributing to your need for that 3pm latte. Researchers at King’s College London University conducted a study to see how frequently viewing a computer screen at work affected participants IQ scores. The results were alarming. Over a course of 80 trials, they found that those who spent the day constantly checking their messages during work had an IQ drop of 10 points throughout the day, that’s equivalent to missing an entire night of sleep! In an age where we feel the need to constantly check our email, Facebook, and Twitter for updates, it’s not hard to figure out why there’s a line at the coffee shop in the middle of the day.
How long do you take for your lunch break? If you’re laughing at me because you can’t remember the last time you actually took a lunch break, then it’s time to start. Career and workplace expert, Michael Kerr, told Forbes magazine how beneficial it is to take a break in order to combat afternoon exhaustion. He says, “It’s critical to make the most of lunch and remind yourself taking a proper break you will accomplish more in the long run, and that productivity and creativity will increase, while your levels of stress and fatigue will diminish”. And this doesn’t mean eating quickly at your desk while you check emails. As I mentioned above, it’s important to give our minds a break from our screens. Get up from your desk, find a spot free of screens and distractions, and take time to relax while you eat before diving back into your work.
So how can we cure these 3pm blues? I say take a hike. Leave your iPhone at your desk, turn off your computer screen, and go for a 10 minute walk. The time away from your screens will help to rejuvenate your tired mind and promote the blood circulation in your body, causing an increase in energy levels.
Just make sure your walk doesn’t lead you to the café. This tip might be a hard adjustment (especially for me), but it’s time to put down the coffee. Caffeine can stay in your system for up to 8 hours, which means having a cup mid-afternoon can make it harder to fall asleep at night. Instead, try a snack that’s high in protein, like nuts or low-fat yogurt. The protein will provide you with sustained energy, giving you that little boost you’re looking for without affecting your sleep. Get more suggestions for energy boosting afternoon snacks from The Huffington Post.
Marcum Workplace Challenge – Last night, Sleepy’s sponsored the 8th Annual Marcum Workplace Challenge, where over 8,000 participants came together to raise money for three great charities – The Long Island Children’s Museum, Long Island Cares -The Harry Chapin Food Bank, and the Children’s Medical Fund of New York. Sleepy’s had over 100 participants running and walking the 3.5 mile course. It was a great night for everyone and we can’t wait to do it again next year!
Some members of the Sleepy's team who ran and walked the Marcum Workplace Challenge to raise money for 3 great charities.
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Contributor: Elizabeth Murphy