Anyone who’s worked in an office can tell you that the most difficult part of the day isn’t the grogginess of the first hour or the eagerness to leave during the last hour—it’s the 3 p.m. crash. You’re antsy, unfocused, and even briefly fall asleep with your eyes open at your computer. If you manage to emerge from the haze, you’ll see that you’re not alone because your office mates suffer from the same condition.
If even coffee can’t cure the afternoon slump, it’s difficult to tell what the source of the problem is. Rather than searching for one culprit, this mid-day attack is more than likely caused by a mixture of lifestyle choices.
Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, your body’s circadian rhythm is likely preparing you for a resting state in the afternoon. At this point, your body is ready for a nap even though you’re likely diving into the toughest part of your workday.
Despite the hefty factor of your biological clock, your diet isn’t getting a free pass for this. Both what and when you eat primes your body to slip right into the 3 p.m. funk. Burning fat is how humans should get most of their energy, however, we chow on carbs to achieve that instantly gratifying sugar high.
Keep candy bars, white bread, and even too much fruit out of reach at your desk. Your body may crave a sugar rush to keep you afloat, but it’ll only make the crash worse and contribute to the bad habit.
Next time you feel your eyelids drooping at work, forget the coffee and empty calories and grab one of these energy boosting and sustaining snacks:
Hummus and veggies
Whole grain bread toasted with peanut butter
Cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls
Avocados or chips + guac
Almonds, pistachios, or a handful of other nuts
Hard boiled eggs
These foods are full of good fats and proteins, the real energy your body needs when it’s tired. Relying on sugar gives you a high but short-lived energy boost. Proteins and healthy fats, however, take much longer for our bodies to burn through, leading to longer spans of energy and a healthier overall diet.