What is the 2pm slump and is it real?

Do your energy levels drop in the afternoon? You’re not alone


Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, many of us share the common affliction of the 2pm slump. This is the period in the afternoon – usually soon after lunch – when your energy levels dip and your productivity takes a turn for the worse. It’s particularly common in those of us who work a typical 9–5 style desk job.

So why does the tiredness strike at 2pm, and what can you do to avoid it? These are the questions we’re going to be tackling below, so let’s take a look.

Why do you feel tired in the afternoon?

Many of us experience a noticeable dip in alertness, energy levels and concentration in the afternoon, and there are reasons for why this occurs. From food habits to the dangers of sitting, here are some of the most common causes of the dreaded 2pm slump.

It was something you ate

It’s no coincidence that the 2pm slump comes soon after lunch. If your lunch tends to be carb-heavy, this can contribute to your tiredness. Eating carbohydrate loaded foods like white rice, white bread, pasta or chips can make you feel sleepy because they cause a rapid spike in blood pressure, which is inevitably followed by a dramatic drop soon after.

Swapping out simple carbs for complex carbs is a good way to tackle this dip. This means trading white bread, white rice and regular pasta for brown and wholegrain alternatives. These cause a slower and more gradual energy release, which can help spur you on throughout the afternoon.

You need to stretch your legs

They say sitting is the new smoking, and that’s because long periods of sitting make you more susceptible to an array of health concerns such as type II diabetes and heat disease. But long periods of sitting can also make you feel tired.

This may sound strange — after all, we’re often told to rest our legs when tired — but long periods without physical activity increase feelings of lethargy and laziness. Our bodies associate stillness with sleep, so after a while you’ll start to feel more tired.

Make the time to get up and move every half an hour or so. Even just a walk to the bathroom can help snap you out of an energy dip.

You’re dehydrated

Fluids are vital for our energy levels. In fact, even mild dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and moody — and this can start to happen after losing just 1.5% of your body’s water weight according to the National Sleep Foundation.

This is an issue for people who work desk jobs, as coffee and tea tend to cement themselves as the beverages of choice for the working day. Try to get into the habit of having a glass of water at your desk throughout the day, and sip on it regularly.

Your body temperature has dipped

Often, the 2pm slump stems from a dip in your temperature that naturally occurs in the afternoon. This can trigger the release of melatonin – a hormone associated with relaxation and sleep. To combat this, make the effort to boost your serotonin levels during this period. Serotonin is essentially the opposite of melatonin; a hormone linked to increased energy and focus.

Listen to upbeat music, get a few minutes of sunshine or go for a brisk walk to boost your energy levels. And of course, making sure you get a good night’s sleep before work can help you feel less tired throughout the day.

Implementing some of these factors into your daily schedule will help to make your 2pm slump a thing of the past.

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