Are you one of those people who feel tired, sluggish, and unproductive in the afternoon? Have you wondered why?
I have seen many people who feel like they need a nap during the day. Culturally, there are communities who honour this practice, but here in Canada it is not a socially accepted habit. In the end, we often feel like failures - kicking ourselves for feeling fatigued, being upset for not accomplishing as much as we'd like, and wondering what is wrong and why our bodies are failing us.
There are several reasons for midday tiredness, and each of these solutions will target one of the potential causes.
1. Watch the Coffee
Monitor your caffeine intake. To get a quick energy boost, you might be conditioned to reach for a coffee (or two or three). One cup can wake you up, but any more than that leads to energy draining factors like dehydration and blood sugar imbalance. It also affects your overall sleep quality so that lack of restful sleep continues the cycle of fatigue. Quite often, regular coffee drinkers also skip breakfast (because coffee raises your blood sugar enough that your body doesn't think you need to eat), creating a lack of energy and therefore a crash by midday. Try making your second cup of coffee a green or herbal tea, or go for a walk for an energy boost instead.
Breakfast is a meal that often gets neglected, either from lack of appetite or preparation time. Skipping breakfast means that you are not giving your body the nutrients it needs to think, move, and act during the day. If you aren't hungry in the morning, try starting the day with a mug of warm water with 1/4 fresh lemon to kickstart your metabolism and stimulate your appetite. For a balanced breakfast that will provide you with abundant energy to keep you going all day long, try to eat a meal containing protein and fat. These nutrients are slower to breakdown in our body, which means that the release of energy is more gradual.
Examples: (ask me for recipes)
- 2 eggs + 1/2 avocado + sautéed green veggies
- protein smoothie
- chocolate chia seed pudding with fruit
- oatmeal bites
For commuters, parents, or anyone else that starts their day at 5am, you have probably burned through your breakfast by the time you even get to work, never mind making it until lunchtime. Pack a snack or keep an emergency stash in your desk, bag, or vehicle and plan for a mid-morning snack of carbohydrate plus protein. This will give your body enough energy to last until lunch and keep your metabolism from going into starvation mode. In starvation mode, we slow down our body's processes in order to conserve energy, then when we do eat we immediately store that energy (as fat) to be used for our next starvation period. The same applies in the afternoon, when we often go 6 or more hours between lunch and dinner.
- apple with 8 walnuts
- celery with almond butter
- cucumber, carrots or crackers dipped in hummus or pesto
- 1/2 KIND or other whole foods protein bar
- a hard boiled egg
Our lunch needs to be substantial enough to get us through the second half of our day. Look for a balance of nutrients: 1/2 plate of vegetables, 1/4 plate of protein, and 1/4 plate of starch. It is possible that your 2pm energy crash is a direct result of what you are eating at lunch. One of the factors to consider is that your lunch might be too high in starch, sugar, carbohydrates, or just too big a quantity for you to digest at once. If your afternoon energy dip is accompanied by a craving for sweets, then think of sugar/carbohydrate/starch as the trigger for your sluggishness since your body is unable to cope with the large quantity of readily available energy. One thing to point out with this cause of energy issues is that this is one of the signs of insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes, and should not be ignored.
5. Food sensitivities
Many of the go-to lunches contain the most inflammatory foods like bread for sandwiches, pasta, crackers, and dairy in things like yoghurt. If your energy crash is accompanied by bloating, heartburn, or other digestive symptoms, you should consider doing a food sensitivity test to find out if there are foods causing reactions in your body, and also trying a digestive enzyme to break down your food more effectively.
Of course another reason for being tired is the obvious, lack of sleep. Aim to get to bed by 10pm to keep your hormones aligned and support healthy energy levels. You know you have gotten enough sleep when you are able to wake up in the morning without an alarm. Sleep disruption is a common sign of imbalances in the body, from blood sugar regulation, to stress, to anxiety, to magnesium deficiency, cortisol imbalance, and menopause. If you have a new sleep issue, you may want to come and chat with me about it.