How to deal with fatigue and sleepiness in the afternoon
How to deal with fatigue and sleepiness in the afternoon

It’s hard to stay energetic and focused for eight hours of work - there is often a drop in productivity in the afternoons. We'll show you where to get the much-needed energy for work, how to make good use of your moments of maximum concentration, and how to cope with declines in productivity throughout the day.

How to deal with fatigue and sleepiness in the afternoon
How to deal with fatigue and sleepiness in the afternoon

“It's just not realistic to expect to be on the job all day,” says Carson Tate, author on productivity. "Just as you would not hope to be able to walk at a brisk pace for eight hours straight, you should not expect complete concentration and strategic thinking for such a long time."

To make matters worse, some of us still don't get enough sleep: we come to work after getting less than six hours of sleep a night. This is clearly not enough for high productivity during the day, and the consequences of not getting enough sleep can seriously harm your work.

Here are some tips on how to feel more energized during your workday.

Tasks must match the energy level

“There are several optimal time frames for creative tasks and work that requires concentration,” said Christopher Barnes, assistant professor of management at the University of Washington Business School. "Most people think better in the middle of the morning and late in the evening."

You need to adjust your circadian rhythms and work schedule, make a list of tasks based on the ups and downs of activity throughout the day.

Tate advises doing “any work that requires attention to detail,” such as writing, making important decisions, or programming, during high energy hours. And during a downturn in energy, you can take on tasks that do not require special concentration: viewing mail, filling out expense reports, making phone calls. In other words, perform tasks that can be done automatically.

Get up and move

Any physical activity temporarily increases alertness and energy levels.

Move for just 10 minutes and your energy and ability to concentrate will increase significantly.

Carson Tate

You can walk around the office building, climb and descend stairs several times, jump or do push-ups several times, stretch right at your desk. The main thing here is movement, which helps to fill the body with oxygen and relieve fatigue, both physical and mental.

If you have a meeting scheduled, you can hold it on the go, taking your employees or partners for a walk. And think about how you can integrate physical activity into your weekly schedule. "If you move regularly," says Burns, "your normal energy levels go up."

Meditate at your desk

Steve Jobs has been doing this for many years. Ray Dalio, head of the world's largest hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, said it makes him feel like a ninja in combat. What is their secret weapon? Meditation.

Concentration exercises are a great way to replenish your strength throughout the day. Studies show that even a few minutes of meditation a day can reduce stress levels and increase the ability of a tired brain to concentrate. This is a period of rest during which people stop worrying, which in turn saves a lot of energy.

It is also important to monitor your breathing during meditation. Five to seven deep belly breaths will provide enough oxygen to keep you alert and energized.

Avoid Caffeine Addiction

Drinking coffee often seems to help manage afternoon drowsiness.“Coffee doesn't really add energy to you,” says Burns. "Caffeine simply masks lethargy and decreased concentration by blocking the chemical reactions in your body that make you feel tired."

Although it works for a while, caffeine, like other drugs, soon wears off. You get less and less effect and you need more and more coffee just to work as usual.

Therefore, do not get addicted to coffee, use it rarely, only when you really need extra energy, for example, at an important meeting once a month, if you have hardly slept the night before. Coffee at three o'clock in the afternoon should not become a habit.

Listen to the music

Music is a great way to both invigorate and calm down. Just as you use music to keep you energized during exercise, you can cheer up with your favorite track at work.

Which music works best for this depends on your tastes. Someone prefers fast rhythms to maintain energy, someone more like calm compositions that help clear the mind and concentrate.

If you are distracted by lyrics, try listening to instrumental compositions of different styles. Sooner or later you will find your ideal "working" tracks.

Turn off your gadgets before bed

If you sit at your computer, tablet or smartphone at night, you will have less energy the next day. Blue light from gadgets and computers reduces the production of melatonin, a substance that helps the body sleep well.

“It's important to avoid using your smartphone or tablet two hours before bed,” says Burns. "The worst thing you can do is use your smartphone while lying in bed."

If at night you need to do something important - check your mail or read something, use applications like for smartphones, and for computers - so that at night the display starts emitting red light instead of blue. Or buy orange Uvex glasses or similar models from other brands that block blue light from screens.

Sleep at least 7-8 hours

This is a simple rule that you can't do anything about. To feel energized and vigorous during the day, you need to get a good night's sleep.

“If you want to be good at something, go to bed,” says Tate.

“Sleep is the number one predictor of success,” agrees Barnes. - People think that it is enough for them to sleep five or six hours and everything will be fine. But even a small lack of sleep will have a noticeable negative effect."

A 2009 study found that people who sleep five hours a night for four days have significant cognitive decline. When performing the simplest tasks, they showed the level of efficiency characteristic of drunk people with an alcohol level of 0.6 ppm (for men of average weight, this is two bottles of beer).

If you regularly sleep eight hours a night, your energy dips will be less severe and easier to control.

Let's summarize the basic principles.

What do we have to do:

  • Meditate or do breathing exercises when you feel tired and sleepy.
  • Put your gadgets aside at least an hour before bed and try to get 7-8 hours of regular sleep.
  • Use music to motivate and boost energy.

What you can't do:

  • Perform creative tasks and work that requires concentration during an energy downturn. Leave these tasks for periods of vigor and energy.
  • Sit at your desk all day. Take short walks, stretch, and exercise to increase energy levels.
  • Addicted to coffee during the afternoon recession.

Now, here are some real-world examples of how the above methods have helped to cope with fatigue during the day and get more done.

Example No. 1. Getting energy from meditation

Dan Scalco often struggled with afternoon fatigue. As the CEO of Digitalux, a digital marketing company in Hoboken, New Jersey, Dan worked 12 hours a day to manage customer situations and manage his team.

He tried supplements and multivitamins, went to the gym, even tried occasional naps in the office to restore energy. But nothing helped him to cope with the afternoon fatigue.

Then he became interested in what strategies helped successful businessmen, and found that many of them use meditation practices.

At first, he was skeptical, as he always saw meditation as a frivolous activity, which only hippies are fond of. But the more he read about its benefits, the more he wanted to try.

The effect of the meditation was immediate. Dan felt more energized, his stress levels decreased, and his concentration increased while communicating with clients and the team.

He now tries to meditate for at least 15-20 minutes, usually between 14:30 and 15:00. He sits on an office chair, puts his hands on his knees, closes his eyes and repeats the mantra to himself.

“It's like taking a 20 minute vacation every day,” he says. - And then I feel as if my brain has recharged. I can honestly say that meditation at least once a day has changed my life. She gave me an inexhaustible supply of energy and greatly increased my productivity."

Example # 2. Make the most of a high performance watch

Ryan Hulland was terribly tired. Vice President and co-owner of Monitoring Management (MonMan), a supplier of electrical equipment and HVAC systems, he spent weeks at work trying to expand the business. And in the evenings he helped put his three-year-old child to bed, after which he returned to the computer to finish the work.

He started drinking more coffee and energy drinks, but found that they did not provide a permanent effect over time.

Ryan tried going for walks regularly, usually after lunch. He realized that physical activity helps him to be more alert and encourages the emergence of creative ideas. But when he returned from a walk refreshed and full of energy, he often had to solve routine tasks from his to-do list, which instantly negated the positive effect of the walk.

Then he began to write his to-do list on an office board and divide it into three columns. The first column, “Funny,” included activities that required creativity, such as writing articles for a company blog. The second column, “Anything,” included more routine tasks that did not require concentration or special mental activity, such as filling out paperwork. And the third column - "Urgent" - included things that need to be done regardless of how he feels.

I tried to match the things on my list with how I feel at a particular time. When I have a lot of energy, I like to do interesting creative tasks, and when fatigue strikes, I do boring, routine tasks.

Ryan Halland

Ryan says that thanks to his new to-do list format, he gets better results and does a lot more when his energy rises. And instead of mindlessly surfing the Internet during periods of fatigue, he performs routine tasks from his “Anything” column.

“It rarely happens during the day that I’m not busy with anything,” he says. At the same time, Ryan works the same number of hours as before his experiment with columns, but spends this time 20-30% more efficiently. And when he comes home at night, he feels less tired than before.

As you can see, there is no universal way. Someone is helped by meditation, someone works better by rationally distributing tasks. Try all the methods, and you will surely find something that will help you cope with fatigue in the afternoon.