Wiped Out By 3 O’Clock? Here’s How I Avoid The Midday Slump

I am lucky enough to work from home, and I love every minute of it. I love spending my workdays in my own space, with my own music, without having to commute to an office. Even though I work from home, however, I am not always safe from the scourge of midday fatigue — one that’s all-too-familiar to so many of us. When midday fatigue hits, my productivity goes way down, and sometimes it takes entirely too much effort to finish my daily tasks once I’ve sank too deep into the sleepiness.

Over the years, I’ve found that certain lifestyle habits help me to keep my energy levels pretty steady throughout the day. I’ve also found that some habits almost guarantee that I’ll be fuzzy-headed by the time noon rolls around.

The following are five things that contribute to my afternoon energy crashes:

Not eating early enough

If I get up in the morning and wait too long before eating, I start getting shaky, dizzy, tired and unfocused. I admit that I have a bad habit of doing this, and then experiencing the resulting crash. I’m working on training myself to eat as close to waking up as I can. A healthy breakfast can really work wonders in helping you to start the day right. I’ve experienced this firsthand.

Heavy foods

Heavy foods first thing in the morning can leave you feeling tired.

Due to my bad habit of waiting too long to eat in the morning, I’m usually pretty darn hungry once I finally do start to make my breakfast. There have been times where I’ve reached for something heavy, like a bowl of pasta, a bagel or toast, and eaten way too much of said heavy food. Doing this makes me quite sluggish for the next few hours, and it also results in me delaying lunch. These things together are a great recipe for feeling fatigued and crummy in the afternoon.

Not enough coffee

I’m probably getting some smirks and eye rolls right now because this one is pretty obvious. However, I’m going to mention it anyway, because I am a coffee lover, and I’m pretty accustomed to my morning and midday coffee. I don’t feel bad about this, though, because coffee has a whole lot of health benefits. In fact, recent research has linked drinking it to a longer life. I’ll take it.

Lack of exercise

If I don’t get enough exercise throughout the day, I feel completely sluggish by the time the afternoon rolls around. I walk my son to school in the morning, and pick him up in the afternoon, so this helps me get exercise into my days. I really notice how tired I feel on the rainy days where we drive to school and I don’t get those walks in. Those are sleepy days. Because of this, I make a point to walk as much as I can. Strength exercises with dumbbells are an important part of my workouts, as well. Doing these, especially combined with walking, gets me energized.

Lack of sun

Escape midday fatigue by working out in the sun.

Of course, we can’t control the weather, but those days without sunshine really are brutal. I find waking up on cloudy, rainy days to be excruciating, and this fatigue lasts well into the afternoon for me. I haven’t yet developed an anti-rain dance, but I compensate for those rainy days by getting out in the sun on sunny days as much as I can. Even a short walk in the middle of the day can work wonders. It boosts my energy, my mood and gets me that all-important vitamin D. I also supplement with vitamin D during cloudy weeks when the sun is in hiding for too long — it doesn’t help as much as sunshine, but it’s something.

How to avoid the midday crash

  • Don’t wait too long after you wake up to eat a healthy breakfast.
  • Make sure your morning meal is substantial (filled with fiber, healthy fat, vitamins, minerals and protein), but not too heavy. Avoid processed foods in all of your meals.
  • Drink lots of water. Dehydration can get you very fatigued very quickly.
  • Get as much exercise as you can throughout the day. A morning walk is a great way to start your day — make it part of your routine if you can. If you work at a desk like I do, make sure to get up and walk around at least every hour. Stretch and get your legs moving for at least five minutes (longer is better) whenever you have the time. Exercise again in the afternoon.
  • Get outside in the sun as much as you can. If you are able, bring your laptop outside and do your work in the sunshine. On days when it is cloudy, consider supplementing with vitamin D (always buy from a trusted source). If you suspect your vitamin D levels are low (this is especially common in northern climates), it may be worth it to see your doctor and schedule a test of your vitamin D levels. This will give you an idea of how much you need to supplement.
  • This one’s obvious, but make sure you get enough sleep on a regular basis. If your sleep schedule is irregular or you get less than seven hours on a regular basis, take steps to change it. Sleep is crucially important to many aspects of health, both physical and mental.

What other steps do you take to keep midday fatigue at bay? Please share — I could use some additional strategies!

— Tanya Mead

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