Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Hey, everyone. I'm Dr. Michael Bruce, the sleep doctor. It happens right after lunch; you begin to feel sluggish, unproductive and exhausted, but there are still hours left before you can end your day and relax. You've hit the dreaded afternoon slump. When faced with this fatigue, many people's first instinct is to reach out and grab for coffee or tea. But did you know there are ways to get through midday tiredness without the help of caffeine? I'm going to share with you my favorite techniques for powering past that sluggish feeling and improving your alertness, focus and mood. But first, you may be wondering why do you feel tired in the afternoon in the first place? It's actually because of an ebb and flow of energy driven by your circadian rhythm. You are naturally inclined to feel more active at some parts of the day and tired at others as you progress through your sleep wake cycle. But even given the normal rise and fall of your circadian rhythm, you shouldn't need an afternoon cup of Joe to get you through the day. If you feel your energy levels dropping, try some of these suggestions instead. Number one, eat healthy meals and snacks. To have the energy you need to beat that afternoon slump, you want to eat foods that are high in fiber, protein and healthy fat as well as fruits and vegetables. Avoid foods that are high in sugar or refined carbohydrates as they can spike your blood sugar and make the slump much worse. Number two, take a break. When you hit a roadblock that stops your progress, trying to power through can actually further harm your productivity. Instead, take a short break to clear your head. Number three, stay hydrated. One of the best ways to feel more awake is to drink plenty of water. Dehydration tends to dull your mental capabilities. Number four, get some light exercise. A little exercise can go a long way towards boosting your energy. Stretching, walking, taking the stairs and doing a few jumping jacks or push ups can all be done at your home or office to increase blood flow and get you energized. Also, you can take a short nap. Now you'll have to use your best judgment here. Don't nap while you're on the clock if your company doesn't support it, but sometimes the extra rest can be the difference between finishing the day strong or struggling the rest of the way through it. Just don't nap for too long or too late in the day. A short snooze of 25 minutes or less between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. is usually ideal. If you're looking for a few other ways to push through when your energy is lagging, surprisingly, studies show that chew gum improves alertness. Also adjusting your posture helps too. A straighter spine can help boost your stamina and reduce stress. Believe it or not, you can also look at pictures of cute animals. I know it sounds crazy but a Japanese study found it to improve your mood and your productivity. Listening to the right tunes is another great way to feel energized, plus it enhances both memory and focus. And so can getting some sun. Even a few minutes makes a major difference in your energy levels. But like so many, prevention is the best cure. Hard as it may seem, it's actually possible to prevent your afternoon slump by making a few tweaks in your daily routine. Follow a consistent bedtime schedule. If you absolutely have to hit the snooze button in the morning, only do it once and don't linger in bed to prevent morning grogginess. Dedicate time in the evenings to your sleep hygiene by finishing your to do list, practicing some relaxation techniques and preparing for bed. And of course, exercise is not only great for your physical health, it helps with your sleep health as well. Finally, many people who struggle to get a good night's rest, have an undiagnosed sleep disorder. Get tested and work with your health care professional to create a treatment plan that works for you. And by the way, if you do grab a cup of coffee in the afternoon, it's important that you know how much to have and the proper timing. We have a video with some of my tips for when to drink caffeine and most importantly, when to stop right here. This is Dr. Michael Bruce, the sleep doctor. Wishing you sweet dreams.