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Quick Dose: Why Do I Feel Tired Mid-Afternoon?

And How to Stay Energized

There are many reasons why people feel less energetic in the afternoon, especially between 1 and 4 pm. In part, it is physiological: Our normal circadian cycle dictates a period of sleepiness or decreased alertness in the afternoon.

However, sleep disorders, medical disorders, stress, insaufficient sleep or poor eating habits can also cause excessive sleepiness at this time. Maintaining consistent sleep schedules, even on the weekends, will help your energy levels throughout the day.

If you experience an excessive mid-day slump, think twice before reaching for empty afternoon calories or taking a power nap, which can interrupt your normal sleep patterns. Instead, try any of the following:

  • Get up and move around. Doing so outside is ideal, as it can get your blood and oxygen pumping, reduce tension, and boost your vitamin D with the natural light.
  • Drink enough water. Dehydration can cause fatigue.
  • Choose a protein-based, energy-boosting snack. Lean chicken or a handful of almonds are both good options.

If you are experiencing significant fatigue or an intense need to sleep on a consistent basis in the mid-afternoon, there may be other underlying reasons that you should discuss with a physician.

– Ian S. Katznelson, MD, neurologist, Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital

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Ian S. Katznelson, MD
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