It happens like some sick narcoleptic clock work: every day around 3 PM, your body yearns for a very inconvenient nap. Don't worry, you aren't the only one dozing off: nearly 40% of U.S. adults fall asleep unintentionally during the day. The answer isn't an IV drip of coffee straight into your bloodstream (in fact, that might make it worse). Instead, here are some decaffeinated tips that'll help you conquer that pesky afternoon fatigue.
Your internal rhythms vibe well with daylight, so if you find yourself nodding off at your desk, simply open the shades and position yourself where you can get as much Vitamin D nourishment as possible. If the day is looking bleak, artificial light can work too. Using a service like join.me allows you to work from a sunny, remote location and still get just as much done.
No for real: if your body is shutting down and all these methods are no match for your sleepy little face, ten minutes of zzzs should do the trick. It's a quick reset button so you can finish out the day. Just find a quiet desk and crawl into your own personal cave. If you don't want to hunker down proximate to your boss, you can work remotely.
Put on the headphones and stream your most upbeat, energetic music. Sound vibrations can stimulate your brain waves and jolt your entire body into a more wakeful state.
Dehydration is productivity's arch nemesis. It can leave you feeling drowsy and sluggish, but if you pump the H2O, the flow of oxygen to your brain causes your heart to work harder and pump that precious oxygen to all of your organs — keeping you energized. Or, splash some water on your face — this forces your body to readjust its temperatures, another way to wake your zombie corpse up.
Take a walk outside, do some jumping jacks, and stretch it out. The movement will get your blood flowing and amp up your energy. If you're working at a screen, try to move around every 30 minutes. It's also a great way to step away from the task you've been focusing on and let the mind wander a bit for some creative solutions. You don't need that triple espresso, just a little moving and grooving.
That carb heavy lunch followed by the fro-yo run is going to give your blood sugar a little spike and then knock you all the way down. Stick to vegetables and proteins to keep you full and your blood sugar steady throughout the day, so you aren't facedown in a bagel by the time your afternoon meeting comes around.
If you fast, your body goes into hunter gatherer mode and sends signals to your brain to get up and fend for itself in the urban jungle. This can keep you super alert, but if you aren't used to this type of technique, you may need to practice by weening off the sugar and carbs first, as suggested in the tip above. Then you can try intermittent fasting throughout the day, and see if it works for you.
The fact is, if your workday is interesting enough, you won't be sleepy at all. Take the 'zzz' out of your meetings with some of the helpful tips found in this infographic, and you will no longer need that 3 pm pick me up.
Kristina Loring is an independent radio producer, writer, and digital strategist living in San Francisco. She loves exploring the hidden design in cities and riding a bicycle away from tech epicenters toward the sea.