Healthy Food

Shake the Afternoon Slump!

During our onboarding process, we have found that many people indicate the termed “afternoon slump”.

You know, that tired feeling like you would just love a quick nap to be able to finish out the day. There is good news! For the most part, this is normal, but there are things to consider and ways to help combat it. This week we’ll chat about afternoon slumps!

Get Some Sunshine!

You might be able to cure this simply by listening to some upbeat music and/or getting out in the sunshine for a few minutes for a quick boost!

Was it my lunch?

Maybe, maybe not. Research has shown that the slump can even happen without having eaten lunch. However, keeping a level glycemic load in the body can help offset a natural afternoon slump. You need a proper balance of carbs, protein, and fats. A high carb lunch can set you up for a quick drive in energy, but you will quickly find the drop that follows it. Also, make sure you stay hydrated! Even a 1.5% drop in hydration can cause drowsiness.

Was it a poor night’s sleep?

Could be! CHRONIC afternoon slumps or general sleepiness could indicate a medical condition (like a metabolic disorder, PCOS, or sleep apnea) or medication side effects. Be sure to check with your doctor if you have chronic fatigue.

Medical conditions aside, a poor night’s sleep can come back to bite you in the afternoon. Adult bodies need 7-9 hours of QUALITY and UNINTERRUPTED sleep to allow it to run through its full recovery process (mentally and physically!). A quick 10-minute power nap can help with that afternoon slump, though. Just make sure it doesn’t turn into a longer nap which can interrupt a normal night’s sleep.

I had a healthy lunch – what’s wrong with me?

You’re human! The human body runs in a circadian rhythm. By nature, the body naturally dips in energy between midnight and daybreak, then again, a smaller dip between 2p and 4p. Just like near bedtime, your core body temperature drops signaling to your brain that it’s time to sleep – a smaller version of that happens midafternoon. This will typically result in a quick drop in energy, alertness, and focus. As you age, the mid-afternoon slump will likely be more noticeable than in younger years.

TIP: Your body associate’s stillness with sleep. Been sitting a long time? Get up and move around!

It’s the afternoon and it hit me! Now what?

Well maybe we should start with what won’t work? A quick sugar high like a Mountain Dew, candy bar, or a triple shot of mocha in your coffee. These will simply exaggerate your energy very briefly before causing an even bigger dip/low point.

Caffeine can certainly offer some aid, remember to try and keep a full day’s caffeine load to 400mg or less.

What else CAN help? A short bout of exercise like going for a walk or jog. Exercise can produce endorphins and release tension which can offset fatigue.

In the end, get a good night’s sleep, eat well, exercise, and listen to your body! Or, go work for the Huffington Post where they offer “The Oasis”…sleep pods for their employees!

I work shift work. What about me?

Night shifts and swing shifts are tough on the body in regard to circadian rhythm (mentioned above). “Afternoon slump” aside, non-traditional job hours still require a good 7-9 hours of sleep each day otherwise you will fall into a sleep-debt mode that needs to be fulfilled as soon as possible to prevent the increased likeliness of disease.

With night shifts, do not delay going to bed when you are tired! The longer you delay, the more alert you will become. Still try to get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep, putting your phone on “do not disturb”.

Some other tricks are to eat a small snack before bed and making sure your sleep environment is quiet, dark, and cool.

Omega 3 vs. Omega 6 – What’s the deal?

Omega Fatty Acids:

We often hear about the benefits of Omega-3’s through fish oil, flax/chia/hemp seeds, walnuts and more. But why? Both Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential fats meaning our bodies cannot create them and we must consume them through food (or supplements). Our bodies use these fats to create other fats that have crucial functions in the body. However it is the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 Fatty Acids consumed that nutrition experts are most concerned about.

What is the proper ratio?

For quite some time, it was suggested we ate a ratio of 1:1 (Omega-6: Omega-3). However in today’s world where a sizeable proportion of calories are derived from processed foods rich in vegetable oils and animal-derived fats (namely grain-fed cattle) the ratio has shifted for most people to consuming 10-15:1! This all has created the need to move closer to the 1:1 by increasing Omega-3 consumption and reducing Omega-6 consumption to reduce arthritis inflammation, lower cardiac risk, and reduce brain inflammation (ie Alzheimer’s, mental illness).

In general, most organizations suggest around 500 mg/day of EPA/DHA, however The Institute of Medicine has gone a step further and encourages a daily intake of 1.6 g and 1.1 g per day for adult males and females, respectively.

What foods are rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

First, it’s important to know that there are three main types:

ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)

EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)

The first one – ALA – is found in many commonly consumed foods that also have Omega-6 Fatty Acids, hence there is less of a push for people to up their intake of ALA. Some foods with the highest ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 are fish and seafood, followed by beans (mung beans/black lentils), Peppermint and Spearmint herbs, green vegetables, tropical fruits, seeds, and mixed green salad.

The only true food source rich in DHA/EPA is fatty fish such as wild-caught salmon. If you are vegan, or do not consume fatty fish or fish oil, you may need to consider using an algal oil (or perilla oil) supplement. Current and limited research shows it could produce a similar effect to marine oils.

*It’s worth noting that current ocean pollution raises possible concerns regarding the safety of fish in general.

OMEGA FATTY ACID SIDE NOTES: You can still have too much of a good thing. While generally not problematic, excessive consumption of fish oil can increase your risk of bleeding and may suppress your immune response. If you take fish oil supplements, be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendation on dosage. Also double-check with your doctor, before taking a fish oil supplement, if you are on blood pressure medication as it has been shown to reduce blood pressure.

Now check out this list of Omega-3 rich foods to add to your shopping list!

Keep it simple with grilled salmon over veggies or try out this delicious recipe with arugula and veggie salad!