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Exercise at This Time of Day for Optimal Sleep

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Why the mid-afternoon slump kicks in and how to fight it

If you tend to suffer a sleepiness attack in the mid-afternoon, it’s not a fluke. Many people experience a noticeable dip in their alertness, energy level, and ability to concentrate in the afternoon. Check out the most common reasons for this, below, so you can nip this feeling in the bud. 

You Ate a Carb-Heavy Lunch. Eating carbohydrate-loaded foods like white breads, white rice, regular pastas, or chips can make you feel sleepy. This is because simple carbs (a.k.a. not ones made from whole grains) cause a rapid spike in blood sugar, followed by a dramatic drop that can leave you feeling tired and cranky. The bottom line: It’s almost always better to replace simple carbs with complex carbs (think whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole grain pasta, whole wheat crackers, etc.).

You’ve Been Sitting Still for Hours. Sitting like a statue at your desk may earn points with your boss. But it can make you feel like nodding off, because your body associates stillness with going to sleep. Try standing up to stretch or walk around at least once every hour.

You’re Somewhat Dehydrated. Even mild dehydration can make you feel tired, sluggish, and moody. Believe it or not, this can happen with as little as a loss of 1.5 percent of your body’s water weight. So keep a glass of water nearby throughout the day and sip on it regularly.

Your Body Temperature Has Dropped. Post-lunch sleepiness can stem from a dip in your core body temperature that naturally happens between 2:00pm and 4:00pm. It’s a dip that triggers the release of a snooze-inducing hormone called melatonin. It’s a normal part of your body’s circadian rhythm. To combat this dip, try listening to upbeat music, stepping out into the sunshine for a few minutes, or going for a brief, brisk walk to rev up your body.