Written by: Mallorie Stallings
Updated March 23, 2021
It’s a familiar feeling: the clock hits 3 p.m., and you’re ready for your afternoon nap. You feel sluggish, tired, and unmotivated. Research shows us that a quick mid-afternoon nap can increase productivity (1), learning, and memory. Some companies have implemented areas for their employees to take a quick nap during the day to help boost productivity. However, not all jobs or schedules have this option.
Instead, consider adding one or more of the following foods to your afternoon routine to stay alert and productive and beat the afternoon slump.
Animal studies indicate that having low levels of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with compromised learning and memory. Some studies in people also show that an increase in healthy fats improves symptoms of depression (4) and anxiety. Additionally, there is some research showing that adding omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients to childrens’ diets may improve performance (5) and memory.
The midday slump can often trigger feelings of excessive hunger, even if you recently ate. Opting for a high-protein snack will help you feel satisfied (6) and fuller for longer. Additionally, people who eat a protein-rich diet may fall asleep faster (7) and wake up less often during the night. Getting a good night’s sleep can help you feel more alert the next day and reduce the impact of the afternoon slump.
High-protein snacks include (8) meat, eggs, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, and soy products, as well as yogurt, prunes, and popcorn.
There could be some truth to the old belief that chewing gum makes you feel more awake. Chewing gum may help increase alertness (9), mood, and reaction time. Studies have also found that chewing gum during the workday improves attention (10), increases productivity, and reduces fatigue.
It might be worth keeping a pack of your favorite gum at your desk for moments when you need a boost in energy or attention.
Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant (11) found in many plants and seeds across the world. Plants with caffeine can be made into teas, and the seeds of some plants can be processed into chocolate and coffee. Caffeine is also found in many soft drinks and energy drinks. Currently, approximately 85% of people worldwide drink or consume caffeine in some form.
Caffeine works to keep you awake by binding to receptors (12) in the brain that usually bond with a molecule called adenosine. Adenosine promotes sleep. When caffeine bonds with these receptors instead of adenosine, it fends off sleepiness.
However, a coffee or a soda at 3 p.m. may help you avoid the afternoon slump, but it may also impact your ability to get a restful night’s sleep. Try opting for a snack that has a low caffeine content, like a cup of green tea or a piece of dark chocolate, or try to only consume caffeine early in the day.
There’s no replacement for a good night’s sleep, but selecting snacks that promote wakefulness can help you maintain your energy throughout the day and avoid the afternoon slump.
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32227222/ Accessed on March 22, 2021.
- https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/tips/things-to-know-about-omega-fatty-acids Accessed on March 22, 2021.
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18568016/ Accessed on March 22, 2021
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30127751/ Accessed on March 22, 2021.
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17921387/ Accessed on March 22, 2021.
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27633103/ Accessed on March 22, 2021.
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21816963/ Accessed on March 22, 2021
- https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/protein-foods Accessed on March 22, 2021.
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20132649/ Accessed on March 22, 2021.
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26075253/ Accessed on March 22, 2021.
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25832334/ Accessed on March 22, 2021.
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28603504/ Accessed on March 22, 2021.