The Reasons Why You're ALWAYS Tired at 3pm...And How to Fix It.


It’s your phone. The Starbucks app, actually - reminding you that happy hour is at 3 P.M. per usual. Any sized hot coffee for half price right when you need it? Sign me up! You think, followed by a perky desk chair twirl. 

The problem here isn’t the marketing scheme behind caffeine happy hours (or your boss catching an awkward moment...). In fact, coffee companies are pretty smart for capitalizing on the notorious 3 P.M. slump - you know, that midday feeling when small tasks like deleting junk mail at your desk seem so dang hard.

Sleepy at the WORST possible time? We’ve all been here.

Sleepy at the WORST possible time? We’ve all been here.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, wakefulness is partially controlled by a biological system that relays sensory information from light and darkness to the brain, cycling between regular intervals of feeling tired and energized. This sleep/wake pattern is called our circadian rhythm and can be thought of as a 24-hour internal clock. It’s also the instigator behind your afternoon slump.

Our circadian rhythms fluctuate at different times of the day, with strong dips occurring between 2:00-4:00 A.M. (which is totally great news!) and 1:00-3:00 P.M., explaining the slump in all of its glory. Cue: major grogginess and an orchestra of yawns echoing across the office.

The [GOOD] news is, there’s a way out! Or at least, multiple ways to prevent the slump from counteracting any productivity obtained from the day. The even better news is that caffeine and sugar are not it.

Naturally, we resolve to find a quick fix by reaching for a temporary burst of energy. Common translations of the previous statement include, but are not limited to: double shot espresso, candy bar, promisingly all natural energy drink.

Why this doesn’t work: sugar and caffeine cause sharp rises in blood sugar, accounting for the near immediate energy boost we experience after consuming either of the two. But this rise is only temporary, resulting in a sugar crash that elevates that initial brain fog to a total storm.  

Instead, try these 5 trusty tips on how to prevent the notorious afternoon slump

1.Eat REAL food.

Food provides energy. Skipping meals or eating empty calories deprives your body of essential fuel to power through the day! Not fueling properly can result in crazy hunger and consequential overeating later in the day. Remember what happens when your blood sugar rises from consuming sugary foods? Eating too much at once can produce the same effect - fatigue and sluggishness - contributing to the afternoon slump.

Too busy to prioritize healthy meals? Try preparing something the night before for smooth sailing the next day, like overnight oats mixed with chia and flax seeds, or hard-boiled eggs for easy peeling. 

Honeygrow’s Make It Grain Salad is what lunch dreams are made of.

Honeygrow’s Make It Grain Salad is what lunch dreams are made of.

Forgot to pack lunch or stuck ordering out? Aim for quick service eateries with whole food options instead of a last-ditch effort at the vending machine. Honeygrow is a Philly native (like us!) with core values in providing high quality, simple and wholesome foods - a perfect option for fast dining on your lunch break! Eating a lunch packed with protein and complex grains is sure to help you power through those midday assignments. No more sad granola bar lunches - hit up your closest Honeygrow, and you’ll be thankful for balanced meals like the Make It Grain salad from Honeygrow - my personal favorite!

2. Reach for a Handful of Nuts

That is, amongst other foods packed with protein and healthy fats! Think boiled eggs, plain Greek yogurt, veggies with hummus, or fruit with cheese.

By now, you already know that sugar and caffeine are a temporary quick fix to boost your energy levels - but that doesn’t mean snacking will do you dirty. Reaching for the right kind of snack, however, can provide just the right amount of energy you’re looking for.

3. Get up and Move!

No wonder why your body wants high the hay - it’s been sitting at a desk for hours at this point! Whether you’re seated all day or work on your feet, try partaking in light breaks to stretch, yawn, or walk. Turn your dart to the bathroom into a short stroll. Whatever it takes, remind your body that it’s not time for bed yet!

4. Stay Hydrated

It’s common to mistake thirst for hunger, and dehydration contributes to overbearing fatigue. Less water in your system lowers your blood volume, requiring your body to work harder to sustain its daily activities - including your brain! Try keeping a large reusable water bottle around at all times, and make it a habit to sip (or chug) throughout the day.

5. Set a Bedtime

Shortchanging sleep at night only adds to the midday lethargic battle. Try establishing a regular bedtime and wake time to ensure sustainable energy to power through the day! 

With these 5 tips in mind, it’s time to slay the midday dragon for good and feel alive while making power moves! You ready?

Honeygrow’s cute, feel good packaging gets new life as a planter post lunch!

Honeygrow’s cute, feel good packaging gets new life as a planter post lunch!

And HEY - Honeygrow will be serving an end of day lunch at our Philly GOOD Fest on 9/22. Speakers, breath work, meditation, community, marketplace, breakfast, snacks, AND lunch from Honeygrow? You don’t want to miss this. Tickets available here.

Author: Samantha Sette

About Samantha: I established myself in the wellness community during a rough relationship with food, now serving as a healthy food/lifestyle blogger on Instagram and advocate for all things health + wellness! You can say things have progressed since then. I am super passionate about optimizing health through proper diet and exercise, and hope to pursue that in the future as a current pre-medical student and spin instructor at Duke University. Learn more about me @healthfullysam