You know that feeling when 2 p.m. rolls around and you find yourself dozing off in meetings? Yes, the struggle of the afternoon slump is real. You can blame the inevitable dropping of your energy levels—and your eyelids—on your body’s circadian rhythm, according to the National Sleep Foundation. There is good news, though: You can outsmart your body’s natural tendencies.
Here are five things to do to put the afternoon slump behind you. And, since napping at the office is generally frowned upon, each of these is a more realistic way to ramp up your energy levels through the end of the workday.
Resist the Soda Machine
A sugary drink might sound like just what you need to perk up, but it’ll likely lead to a sugar crash soon after your last sip. The sleepy state you return to after that initial jolt of energy wears off might be even worse than it was before. Instead, mix a packet of INVIA into a glass of water. This mental performance drink mix was formulated by a neuropsychologist and has what it takes to keep you going ‘til quitting time.
Hit the Gym—Or at Least Take a Walk
That adrenaline spike you feel after a solid sweat session can be used to your advantage at work. Researchers found exercising three days a week for six weeks made study participants feel less tired. Peeling yourself away from your desk to squeeze in a workout might be hard to pull off, but any type of movement, such as a brisk walk, can help you feel more awake.
Embrace Natural Light
Countless studies show basking in bright light can counter afternoon drowsiness. Take a 2006 study published in the journal Sleep, for example. It found that sitting next to a window during that nap-inducing time from 12:40 p.m. to 1:10 p.m. zapped sleepy feelings, and the effects lasted about an hour.
Meet in Person
Anticipate the hit your concentration levels will take during that after-lunch period and use that time for face-to-face meetings. Engaging in conversation to combat sleepiness is a stay-awake tactic used by 35 percent of drivers. Chances are, chatting with coworkers will keep your brain stimulated at work, too.
When your energy drops to dangerously low levels, you need a pick-me-up snack, stat. Your tummy might urge you to choose sweets or carb-laden chips and pretzels stocked in the office vending machine, but the best way to achieve sustained energy is to reach for a snack that has lots of protein, some carbs, and a little fat. A half of a turkey sandwich should do the trick.
With these five tricks in your back pocket, you’ll be able to tap into your superpowers to rock the rest of the workday and show your circadian rhythm who’s boss.