5 Ways to Beat the Afternoon Slump

780.79  That’s the diagnostic (ICD-10) code for “malaise and fatigue,” which is one of the most common diagnostic codes in all of medicine. Basically, it means that the patient is tried. Although fatigue can be a symptom of just about every medical condition there is, most cases are not related to a serious underlying disease. In fact, most cases of fatigue, especially of the “afternoon slump” variety are easy to treat with some simple diet and lifestyle modifications. Courtesy of my awesome UpWellness team…Here’s your guide to powering through your afternoon and curing your 780.79.  


It probably happens to you, it happens to a lot of people. You eat lunch, return to your desk, and all of a sudden you are having a difficult time keeping your head up. You fall into a fog of sorts, and your processing time slows down as you really feel like you need a nap. Some people call it the 3pm slump, you have two more hours before you can go home, but you just don’t know if you can make it. Forget productivity – you resort to looking busy and getting nothing done. The good news is, there is a healthy solution to the mid-afternoon drowsiness that can help you bust out your afternoon at work and go home with energy to spare.

Get enough sleep the night before

A good night’s sleep is essential to next day work performance and warding off the afternoon slump. If you start shaving time off of your bedtime at night and getting up earlier in the morning, those lost sleep hours add up. Adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Best to block out at least eight and be sure to set a consistent going to bed and getting up time. The more rested you are, the easier it will be to make it through your day and stay focused.


Staying active is one of the best ways to stay energized and productive throughout the day. Even just a thirty-minute brisk walk daily can supply enough energy to avoid mid-afternoon drops in productivity and sleepiness. The key is to be consistent. Add exercise to your daily list of to do’s and monitor how your energy levels in mid-afternoon increase over time. Exercising outside during the daylight hours will give you an added benefit because sunlight helps to regulate sleep patterns.

Sip green tea

It may be tempting to reach for a cup of coffee or even an energy drink when you feel the mid-afternoon slump approaching. Try sipping green tea throughout the day instead. If you are an iced tea drinker, make up some green tea with raw honey and a dash of lemon and keep it handy throughout the day. The health benefits of green tea are well documented, including anti-inflammatory benefits and antiviral benefits. In addition, sipping on green tea has been found to provide stable energy throughout the day and an increase in focus.

Avoid sugar

Sugar is an energy and focus zapper, and there is no doubt of that. If you eat a lunch that is heavy in refined carbs or sugar, you might as well get out your pillow a few hours later. Consuming too many refined carbs or sugar-laden foods at lunch can lead to a mid-afternoon crash that is almost unavoidable. Eat whole foods instead, including plenty of fresh vegetables, healthy fat, and protein to avoid the crash.

Drink plenty of water

Not only does water keep you hydrated, but it also keeps you mentally sharp and alert.  The brain is strongly influenced by hydration of the body. Research studies show that even mild dehydration (1 – 3% of body weight) can dramatically impair brain function. Aim for 11 -16 glasses daily. Bring a water bottle to work and get up often to fill it from your office cooler. Getting up and moving around is an added bonus to fighting off afternoon fatigue.

-The UpWellness Team