Do you constantly experience the dreaded midday afternoon slump? This tends to occur around lunchtime and can be a major hindrance at work or in the classroom. What exactly makes you drowsy in the afternoon and is it normal? Learn about excessive daytime sleepiness, the causes, symptoms, and remedy.
Causes of Daytime Sleepiness
There’s no single cause of the afternoon slump. The tiredness can be attributed to a number of causes. Here are some of the common attributions.
High Carb Lunch
Eating a meal high in simple carbohydrates, such as white bread and soda, causes a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, followed by a rapid drop. This is a prime reason why people tend to feel tired within minutes after lunch.
Lack of Movement
The body associates stillness with sleep. If you have an office job that requires sitting for long hours, then it can contribute to drowsiness.
Is your work or home life causing stress? Mental stress causes physical changes in the body through the production of cortisol hormones. Studies suggest a strong correlation between stress and fatigue-related conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome.
Are you not drinking enough water? Dehydration causes electrolyte loss and can even cause a shrinkage in the brain cells. This can also lead to additional side effects like migraines, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating.
Symptoms of Daytime Sleepiness
The primary symptom of daytime sleepiness is, well, sleepiness. However, you may also experience additional accompanying symptoms that make the condition more difficult to bear. People who report chronic afternoon drowsiness also report the following:
- Muscle fatigue and loss in physical strength
- Sweaty palms
- Blurred vision
- Involuntary shaking
- Frequent yawning
- Irritable mood swings
How to Reduce Daytime Sleepiness
There are natural ways to maintain your energy levels and keep the midday slump at bay. These alternatives don’t include quick-fixes like coffee or Red Bull, which leads to an eventual energy crash.
1. Reduce Carbs
Minimize simple carbs during lunch. In lieu of white bread, for example, consider whole wheat bread for your sandwich. Similarly, consider a salad rich in leafy greens in place of pasta. Instead of soda pop for a beverage, stick to plain H2O.
2. Take a Power Nap
If possible, take a short nap at work. You can do this during your lunch break after eating. Rest your head on the table and take a power nap lasting no more than 20 minutes. Studies show that a nap as brief as 10 minutes can have a profound effect on energy levels. Set a timer on your phone so you don’t oversleep and end up late returning to work.
3. Move Your Body
If you spend the bulk of the day seated in an office chair, find pockets of time to get some physical movement. Try alternating between sitting and standing. If it doesn’t interfere with your work, do some bodyweight squats or stretch in place.
4. Splash Water on Your Face
One hack you can try is splashing cold water over your face while massaging the facial skin with your hands. While your face is still wet, go outside. The air will create a cool breeze against your wet face. This will increase your alertness. Some people swear by this method.
Excessive sleepiness can hinder you from performing daytime activities. If the above remedies do not help, it may be time to seek professional assistance. Excessive daytime sleepiness is also known to be a major symptom of sleep apnea since you’re not sleeping well at night.
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Consistently getting a good night’s rest will play a significant role in minimizing midday drowsiness.