The midday slump is the antithesis of getting things done during the day. It can happen mid morning to mid afternoon as you're counting down the time to be done. Maybe you are a student and trying to stay awake in class. Or, perhaps you're in meetings all day and finding it hard to stay awake. Here are some tips to stay productive and alert when you start to get tired.
Address your bedtime habits
First, before you start finding ways to be productive during the day, you have to address your bedtime habits. Adults are recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Staying up late to binge a show, or hang out with friends, or just thinking can all interrupt sleep. If you eat or workout too late at night, then you can also disrupt your sleep as your body is pumping with hormones that counteract sleep.
It's important to create a sleep hygiene that maximizes your sleep. Sleep hygiene is the routine before you go to sleep and can include calming things like meditating, stretching, reading, hanging out with family, drinking tea, etc. Do things that induce sleep. Getting your heartrate up, drinking alcohol, and exposing yourself to a lot of blue light can counteract your sleep efforts.
Make sure your bedroom environment is comfortable too. A nice mattress that works for your sleep habits, soft sheets, and a dark, cool, quiet atmosphere are the perfect combination for a great night of sleep.
Tips to stay awake at work
Once you've addressed your bedtime habits, then you may still experience that midday slump. The day doesn't stop because you're tired, but your productivity may decrease which just means the work piles up on you. Here are some tips to stay awake at work.
1. Take a walk
Activity can help wake you up if you've been sitting too long and start to get tired. Taking a nice walk before work or during your shift can help to increase your alertness and help you stay awake. If you start to feel sleepy and haven't moved from you chair in over an hour, it's time to get active. Take the stairs to the first floor and back. Or go out to the parking lot and walk a lap or so. Don't be so active that your break a sweat, but something that wakes you up.
2. Eat a snack
You may be sleepy because you're hungry, especially around that mid-morning slump (around 10 am). It's a little too early to eat lunch, but you need something to get you through the next couple of hours. Eat a light snack to help curb that hunger and tide you over until you get to lunch. Healthy energizing snacks like protein bars, nuts, fruit, and other low-sugar content foods can really help boost your energy.
3. Drink water
Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially when you get tired. Drinking a glass of cold water can help alert you, as well as keep you hydrated. Plus, the more water you drink, the more you'll have to get up and use the bathroom which keeps you from being so stagnant you get sleepy.
4. Pomodoro method
Taking activity breaks can really boost your productivity, especially when your eyes glaze over from looking at the same thing over and over. The Pomodoro method is a work strategy where you do things for a certain amount of time and then take a break. You can set timers to work for 45-minutes, no distractions, and then set another timer to take a 15-minute break. If your time span is even shorter than that, then you can do a 25-minute/5-minute split. It's up to you, but it's important to take breaks so you have a deadline to work with which can help hold your attention.
5. Brighten your space
Dark rooms, offices and cubicles can induce sleepiness because your sleep hormones are controlled by light. If you are not getting a lot of access to light, then your brain isn't getting the signal to release hormones that help you stay awake. Add some additional lamps, turn on the lights, go outside and get sunlight, do something to introduce some light into your brain so you can get the right hormones to help you stay awake and productive.
6. Drink caffeine early
Caffeine can help you stay awake, but you have to consume it early in your shift for it to have positive effects instead of negative ones. Consuming it early can help you get the boost that caffeine provides. If you drink it too late, however, it can interfere with your ability to sleep after work.
7. Play music
If you need extra energy throughout the day, then you may need to turn on some tunes to get things flowing. If you're doing something that requires too much concentration for songs with lyrics, then you can play some upbeat instrumentals. But, if you can play some of your favorite artists to get you through those slumps, then that can help you be productive while you're sleeping.
8. Get easy stuff done early
When you're tired, it's hard to get complex tasks done, so it's better to start with the things that are easy and get them out of the way. Emails, menial tasks, things that don't require a lot of concentration are the best to do when you feel your productivity falling. Then, when you do feel energized, you can put all of your attention on the harder tasks.
9. Smell energizing scents
Scents like peppermint, jazmin or citrus are smells that can help you wake up and feel energized. They alert a part of your brain that induces alertness and can be great as essential oils, incense, or even sprays or candles. In offices, you do have to worry about allergies and worrying others, so even having a smell jar that you can sniff to keep yourself boosted will help.
10. Take naps
If your job allows, or if you have a break to take a power nap in your car,then that can be the best way to boost your energy. Power naps are 15-30 minutes long and are just long enough for you to enter light sleep, but not long enough for you to feel groggy because you've interrupted a REM cycle. That little bit of sleep boosts creativity, alertness, and can be the jumpstart you need to finish the afternoon strong.
If you are having trouble sleeping and need even more help than the tips above, please click the orange button below to take a free online sleep test and talk with one of our sleep health professionals.