Do you find yourself yawning and unable to focus around 3 p.m.? That sluggish feeling is familiar to many of us and it makes it a challenge to get any work done. While you could just drink another coffee, that quick fix could mess with sleep later, which will just start the cycle all over again tomorrow.
Fortunately, there are some easy and effective ways to perk up in the afternoon without compromising sleep quality. Try these pick-me-ups instead of caffeine:
- Soak up some sunshine - If you can, get outside for a little fresh air and vitamin D. “Research shows sunshine increases the production of serotonin, a stimulating hormone that naturally makes us feel more awake,” explains sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo. “Ideally get outside in direct sunlight for 10 or 15 minutes.” If you can’t, sitting by a bright window is a good second option.
- Hydrate - Being dehydrated can make us feel sluggish, with clinical trials showing it can make it harder to concentrate and make decisions. But according to one study, drinking three cups of water can improve reaction times by 14%. So keep sipping water throughout the day and add some mint or lemon for energy-boosting antioxidants.
- Turn on your favorite song - Playing music can help you snap out of your afternoon fog, too. "Research shows, when listening to music you love, your body produces dopamine- a hormone to increase motivation and energy," explains Arezzolo. "And, if the song is upbeat, your brainwaves will be synchronized into a faster pattern, increasing mental processing speed."
- Get moving - Being active can also help you shake off the afternoon slump. Arezzolo recommends raising your heart rate for an endorphin-induced energy spike, ideally outside. It doesn’t matter what activity you do, but research shows moderate- and high-intensity exercise helps to increase energy and the feel-good hormone dopamine.