It's 3pm and it's happened again. You're yawning, you can't focus and you're suddenly sluggish. But it's too late in the day to remedy the problem with another coffee - so what now?
The afternoon slump comes for us all. But as we age and become more sensitive to caffeine, it gets extra important to avoid reaching for an afternoon tea or coffee to perk up.
The good news, though, is there are easy and effective ways to beat afternoon tiredness without compromising our night-time sleep quality. Here are some tips.
Soak up some sunshine
If you're starting to feel sleepy, it's probably time to go outside, says sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo.
"Research shows sunshine increases the production of serotonin, a stimulating hormone that naturally makes us feel more awake. Ideally, get outside in direct sunlight for 10 or 15 minutes. But if you can't, sitting by a bright window is a great second option."
A 3pm walk around the block to get some fresh air and arvo rays could be just what the doctor ordered.
Often when we feel sluggish, part of the culprit is dehydration. In fact, it has been reported in clinical trials to cause deficits in concentration, attention span and decision-making akin to that of having a 0.08 blood alcohol level. On the other hand, a study found drinking three cups of water can improve reaction times by 14 per cent.
So instead of a caffeinated drink, reach for a glass of water to wake yourself up at 3pm (bonus points if it's refreshingly cold — so don't hold back with the ice cubes).
And to combat dehydration, Arezzolo recommends keeping the fluids up throughout the day.
"Make it easy for yourself and keep a bottle on your bedside table, and add lemon and mint while you're at it — both provide energy-boosting antioxidants."
Regular exercise helps us sleep better and gives us more energy. And the mid-afternoon is actually the perfect time to get up, get moving and shake off the slump — especially once we're at the age where we get to set our own schedule.
"Raise your heart rate for that endorphin-induced energy spike, ideally outside," says Arezzolo. "Whether it's yoga, a HIIT workout, a run or a gentle walk, moderate and high-intensity exercise has been found in clinical trials to increase energy and our feel-good hormone, dopamine."
Turn on your favourite song
Another trick to snapping yourself out of the afternoon slump could be as simple as putting on some music.
"Research shows, when listening to music you love, your body produces dopamine- a hormone to increase motivation and energy," says Arezzolo.
"And, if the song is upbeat, your brainwaves will be synchronised into a faster pattern, increasing mental processing speed."
For an extra jolt, turn it up loud. And, just maybe, you might like to pair the music with a little dance around the living room too — consider it part of your afternoon exercise.
This article is sponsored by Melotin MR
Ask your pharmacist about this product. For the short-term treatment of primary insomnia (insomnia without an underlying medical or other clear cause) characterised by poor quality sleep in adults aged over 55 or over.