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How to Stop Feeling Tired in the Afternoon



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- It's 3:00 p.m. and your motivation

to do literally anything has evaporated.

You feel tired, you can't focus,

and the idea of starting any of the tasks on your to-do list

is just mentally exhausting.

In other words, you've hit the afternoon slump

and you're not alone.

Millions of people around the world

hit this wave of tiredness during the early afternoons

every single day,

which is actually a problem for me

'cause people who are tired

tend not to watch YouTube for quite as long,

so let me help you out real quick.

(creaking) Is this in frame?

Is this helping?

Are you awake?

Okay, hopefully that helped at least somewhat.

Let's get back to the video.

So like I just said,

this is something that happens to millions of people.

If you get tired in the afternoon,

if you feel like you should be going to bed

but, for some reason, the sun's still out,

well, that is an absolutely common experience.

So what I want to do today is share a three-step process

that you can go through whenever you find yourself

in an afternoon slump, battling that afternoon brain fog.

Going through these things

can help you gain back at least some of your energy

to tackle the rest of your to-do list

before you end the day.

But before we get into that,

we do want to answer the question

of why does this happen in the first place?

Because there are definitely some controllable factors

that contribute to the afternoon slump,

but part of it is actually natural.

Part of it is due to something called our circadian rhythm,

which is essentially this internal clock

that helps to keep our body's internal processes

synchronized with the day and night cycle,

which helps us go to sleep at the right times.

And in doing some research for this video,

I found out that there are actually two parts of the day

where we actually have a dip in energy.

So according to the Sleep Foundation's website,

for most adults, the biggest dip in energy

happens during the middle of the night,

between 2:00 and 4:00 a.m,

which is the time where most people are just fast asleep,

snoozing away like a rock,

actually, rocks don't snooze,

but there is another dip in energy just after lunchtime,

around 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.,

when they start to crave that post-lunch nap.

But another website that I looked at,

Science Daily, said this:

"In a strict sense,

"circadian rhythms are endogenously generated,"

and although the definition for endogenously,

and I'm not even sure if I'm pronouncing that correctly,

but I didn't know what it meant

when I was doing this research, so I put it there,

"although they can be modulated by external cues

"such as sunlight and temperature."

And keep that in mind for later on in the video

because what this is saying is that circadian rhythms are,

for the most part, internally set.

You can't do a whole lot to control,

but some things do affect them.

And with that, let's go over to step one in the process,

which is to refuel.

Your body is essentially an engine

and what you put into it,

the quality of what you put into it

and the time at which you fuel it,

these all factor into how energetic you're going to feel

at all different times of the day.

So in the afternoons when I start feeling tired,

this is the first thing that I think to do.

I want to get something to eat, get something to drink,

and usually the first thing that I reach for

is either a glass of water or a can of sparkling water.

I think this is the Michael Buble kind.

That's how you pronounce it, right, Buble?

And I actually like sparkling water

a little more than regular water

because when I was in college,

I was super addicted to energy drinks

and I kind of identified the reason for that.

It wasn't necessarily the caffeine.

It wasn't necessarily the taste.

It was actually the fact that the energy drink

and the colorful can and everything and the carbonation

were sort of novel.

It kind of injected a little bit of excitement

into an otherwise boring afternoon study session.

And it was actually the Power of Habit

that helped me to differentiate

these different reasons for my cravings

for terrible, unhealthy energy drinks,

because there was a part of the book

where he was talking about this afternoon habit that he had

to get a cookie every single day

and he started asking himself what is the reward I get

for getting this cookie?

Is it the taste?

Is it the energy boost?

And he actually came to the conclusion that no,

it's just this ritual that allows me to get it from my desk

and then it gives me an opportunity to socialize

with some of my coworkers.

So he just changed his habit up

to go over to the water cooler or something like that

so he could still talk to the coworkers.

So reading that actually helped me to identify the factors

that caused my craving for those terrible,

unhealthy energy drinks,

the taste, the caffeine levels, and also the novelty factor.

And then I realized that sparkling water,

especially flavored sparkling water like this,

fills two of those three categories,

and if I want caffeine,

I can obviously go for tea or coffee.

And I do want to talk about that as well

because tea and coffee can be useful in the afternoons

but you need to understand how your body reacts to caffeine

later in the day.

There are studies out there

to show that caffeine even six hours before bedtime

can significantly impact the quality of your sleep

in a negative way but everyone's mileage may vary.

So some people may be able to have a cup of coffee

at four in the afternoon, while other people,

if they have caffeine at any time in the day

that has a p.m. in it,

they're not gonna be able to go to sleep.

So, again, do some testing

if you want to use caffeine in the afternoons.

And you can also pair it with a light snack.

And if you're gonna go for a snack,

the main thing here is don't just reach for simple sugars.

Don't go for candy or soda especially,

but also if you're just going for fruit

and you're just taking in simple sugars,

this causes a spike in your blood sugar

with a subsequent crash.

So you want to pair that with some complex carbohydrates,

maybe some wholewheat bread

or maybe some proteins, like a hard boiled egg.

In fact, my best friend Martin,

who helped me write the script for this video,

listed that you should put a hard boiled egg

inside of a banana,

which I sat there and thought about for a second

and I still can't envision how you do it

but if any of you out there know what he means,

put it in the comments below because I'm kinda stumped here.

Anyway, step two in the process is to reset.

This means step away from your desk

and take a break from your work.

Now for me, the ultimate way of resetting is to go outside.

If you'll remember earlier in the video,

I talked about how the circadian rhythm is,

for the most part, endogenously,

I think that's how you pronounce it,

but endogenously generated or controlled

but that there are some factors

that you can use to influence it,

one of them being sunlight exposure.

So this is kind of my main thing.

Whenever I feel tired in the afternoons,

I am reaching for a glass of water,

maybe making some coffee depending on the time,

but the next thing is I'm going outside for a walk

or I'm gonna take a break to go for a workout

or I'm gonna go outside and do some skateboarding

or rollerblading but whatever it is,

I want to get outside and get some sunlight exposure

because exposure to light, especially sunlight,

can be a cue to wake your body up.

Sunlight is actually one of those external factors

that really plays a part

in how your circadian rhythm is governed.

And if for some reason you just can't go outside

or you just don't want to exercise,

you're trying to be as sloth-like as possible,

you just get into that zen state of mind,

at least let yourself step back from your work

and take a little bit of a break

to give yourself some intentional fun time.

Play a video game.

But one word of warning here.

If one quick game of Overwatch or one quick game of Magic

or whatever game that you tend to get sucked into

often turns into just a quick several hours,

then that's probably not a good way to take a break.

You want to get into something

that is not going to suck you in,

not going to distract you for a really long period of time.

It just kinda provides some mental rejuvenation.

One other option could be to take a nap.

Now, I did a whole video on naps about a year ago

and for me, naps aren't the most effective thing.

I find that even if I do the 20-minute power nap,

where you're not supposed to fall asleep,

not supposed to get groggy,

I find myself slipping into a deeper sleep

and wanting to sleep for two or three hours.

So it's kind of a big time waster for me,

but, again, your mileage may vary

and a lot of people get use out of naps

in the early or late afternoon.

In fact, that's why a lot of countries

have a siesta culture.

That brings us to step three, which is to refocus.

It is time to get yourself back to work

and focus is the keyword here.

I find that when I hit the afternoon slump,

I often have several tasks still left on my plate

and my brain will sort of just glide over them

and kind of listlessly try to get into each one

but I know there's a bunch of them

and that makes it really hard to get into any one thing.

And this is where a bit of philosophy comes in for me,

because a lot of people,

when they talk about the afternoon slump,

they are talking about the nutrition aspect of it,

the sleep aspect of it, the circadian rhythm aspect of it,

but I think that the level of interest you have in your work

and how focused you are on it actually plays a big roll

in how energized you feel.

If you're feeling kind of listless,

if you don't really know what you're supposed to be doing,

or you don't care about it, you're gonna feel tired

because the brain and the body,

they have a two-way connection, right?

Your body's circadian rhythm, your nutrition,

all these factors play a roll

in how motivated you feel mentally,

but it goes the other way as well.

Your level of interest in your work, how focused you are,

this plays a roll

in how energized and awake you feel physically.

So if you can find a way,

either intrinsically or extrinsically,

to get more interested in a single task that you want to do,

then you're gonna feel a little bit more energized

while doing it, so here is how I propose

that you externally motivate yourself.

First, pick one task that you have to do.

You can't let your brain

just listlessly glide over everything.

It's got to focus in on one thing.

Secondly, clear your environment and get it ready for work.

So clear off your desk,

close any open programs that don't need to be open,

close any open browser tabs,

and then maybe get some good study music

for getting into the work zone.

Finally, set a timer for 25 minutes

and do a Pomodoro session on the task.

I find that the Pomodoro technique,

where you set a timer for 25 minutes

and you focus on one task during the 25 minutes

with absolutely no distractions

or anything else coming into your field of view of focus,

this is actually much more useful for me in the afternoons

than it is in the mornings and this kinda makes sense.

In the mornings, I'm more mentally aware.

I'm more awake.

I'm more easily able to focus on my work intrinsically.

In the afternoons, I'm feeling tired.

I might need that little bit of external motivation

and the Pomodoro technique really provides that.

So from personal experience,

I know that the three steps in this process,

refuel, reset, and then refocus,

these are very effective

for getting past that afternoon slump.

But if it's not enough for you,

there are some longer term fixes that you can use as well

and the main one that I want to mention here

is changing up your schedule

if you have the freedom to do so.

Like I talked about in my previous video,

which is all about my new morning routine,

I mentioned that I moved my workouts

from the mornings to the early afternoons or late afternoons

and this had a lot of benefits.

Number one, it freed up more time in the mornings,

which were better hours for me to work anyway,

but it also means that when the afternoon slump hits,

I can just go to the gym

and I often find myself being more energized

when I leave the gym because I'm getting some exercise

and that helps me get through that tired spell.

So if you can, do some experiments

and play around with your schedule.

Hopefully that, in combination with the three steps

I shared here, will help you to be more productive

during your actual work hours and beat that afternoon slump,

which will help you earn back some more guilt-free evenings,

evenings that you can use spending with friends

or playing Hollow Knight for the third time

or working on some personal projects

that you don't have time to do during the actual work hours

in the mornings and afternoons.

And one personal project

that you should probably consider taking on

if you haven't done so already

is building a professional online presence.

If you want to stand out from the competition

to get competitive jobs

or you want to build connections in your industry

and establish yourself as an expert,

building a website for yourself,

where you can show off your portfolio

and tell people how to contact you, is a great first step.

And the first step to doing that

is securing your professional domain name,

like mine, which is thomasjfrank.com.

And if you'll notice, I had to put a J in my URL

because I was not able to get thomasfrank.com,

since someone else got it

far before I was ever even on the internet.

And that's the thing about domain names.

Someone else could get yours

before you get the chance to get it

and if they don't let it relinquish,

then you're kind of out of luck.

So get your professional domain name

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and help to support my channel.

Big thanks to Hover as always for sponsoring this video

and thank you as well for watching.

Hopefully you found this video helpful.

And if you have any other tips

for beating the afternoon slump

or you know how to fit a hard boiled egg into a banana,

please share what you know in the comments below

because, well, I really don't know how to do that

and also your tips definitely help out other people

who are scrolling down there,

looking for additional information.

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Or check out a couple of more videos right here and here.

Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video.