Sleeping according to the circadian rhythm | Light that suits the moment of the day | Move | The effect of food on your energy level | Hacks for an afternoon slump
You know the feeling - it's the afternoon, or maybe even after lunch, and you're doing everything you can to concentrate and avoid yawning. But it doesn't have to be this way. Here's how to get more and constant energy every day and avoid an "afternoon slump".
Sleeping according to the circadian rhythm
More and constant energy starts with sleeping according to the circadian rhythm. You can improve your sleep with a few simple tools:
In the evening, you want to block out blue artificial light (from phone, computer and TV screens). Exposure to blue light makes your body think it is daytime and therefore sees no reason to produce melatonin (the sleep hormone). [*]
Another important factor for a good night's sleep is what time you eat or drink. Avoid large meals and even snacks at least three hours before bedtime. Be careful about drinking caffeine after 2pm and try to limit alcohol before bedtime.
Already applying all the above? Then there is still room for improvement in the bedroom itself. Optimise your sleep hygiene by going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning, including weekends. Make your bedroom a relaxing environment by making it dark and soundproof and make sure the temperature is comfortable.
Finally, move around every day. It does not have to be a heavy workout. A regular walk is sufficient. If you are physically active during the day, you will fall asleep more easily at night.
For effective results, you want to apply all the tips every day.
Would you like more background information on the above tips? Then read an extensive blog about sleep here.
Light that suits the time of day
Just as important as blocking out blue light in the evening is daylight exposure during the day. As mentioned earlier, daylight (or blue light — the sun also contains blue light) is very effective in naturally interrupting melatonin production. In doing so, it sends a signal to the brain to be alert and functional — i.e. to perform during the day. [*] It also improves your concentration span, reaction time, and mood. [*] A lack of sunlight gives rise to depression and therefore low mental energy. [*]
To get enough daylight, go outside as much as possible in the morning, for your shopping or a short walk. If you spend a lot of time inside for work, go and work in front of the window. Daylight through the window is also good enough to send the signal to your brain that you are ready for the day. [*] In winter, you can solve this by using a blue light lamp just after getting up.
If you don't feel energetic, moving is the last thing you want to do. And yet, moving, even if little or slowly, can help against fatigue. [*]
This stimulates your energy level: both the condition of your body and your mental health. The mental benefit that you get from exercise is directly linked to your energy level. You probably recognise it: after exercise you feel better and more energetic. [*]
One thing you can do is go for a walk after each meal for at least 10 minutes or more. A short walk after meals also helps to lower your blood sugar levels after a meal, so that you don't experience that famous energy dip after lunch. A win-win! [*]
The effect of food on your energy level
Limiting simple carbohydrates during the day does a lot of good for your blood sugar. [*] Bread, crackers, breakfast cereals, biscuits and sweets contain these simple carbohydrates that are absorbed very quickly into the bloodstream. [*] This causes a spike in your blood sugar that is followed by a rapid drop. The result? A brief energy boost, only to become very tired.
Also, a 2007 study showed that high-glycemic carbs speed up falling asleep. So you want to save them for dinner so you can fall asleep easily. [*]
Fat contains more energy per gram than any other nutrient. A high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet is the most effective way to deliver energy to the parts of your body that need it, such as your brain. [*]
Compared to carbohydrates and proteins, fat has the least impact on blood sugar levels (so you don't get an energy dip). [*] So eat a meal during the day that consists of fats, proteins and vegetables and avoid fast carbohydrates. Think of a salad with salmon and olive oil or a smoothie with vegetables, protein powder and MCT oil (more recipes here). [*]
Omega 3 for your brain
Fats provide not only energy but also other essential nutrients for your body. The omega-3 fats EPA and DHA are found in abundance in fatty fish and shellfish. EPA and DHA have important effects on the brain and blood vessels. You want to eat enough of these for the long term, to keep your brain healthy.
Choline is a fatty substance that is commonly found in eggs, especially the yolks. Choline is, among other things, the basis for the activating neurotransmitter acetylcholine. So it is also relevant for good physical and mental performance.
By eating fish and eggs on a weekly basis, you will not lack such useful fats. If you don't eat them regularly, or if you want extra support, take a supplement. Then take cod liver oil, fish oil or krill oil. [*], [*], [*]
Unlike carbohydrates or fats, protein is essential for several processes in the body, making it a source of important building blocks rather than a quick pick-me-up. Because protein plays such an important role in the normal functioning of the body, it is essential that you get enough of it. You need protein to optimise your neurotransmitters, metabolism and body composition. Aim for a minimum of 1 to 1,5 gram of protein per kilo of body weight per day. [*]
If you want to perform optimally cognitively, varying your protein intake is crucial - especially if you eat vegan or vegetarian. The essential amino acids in protein control your neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters influence your state of mind. For example, they make you feel motivated and happy, better able to handle stress and able to concentrate.
Hacks for an afternoon slump
Have you already done a lot to improve your energy but still experience an energy dip? Then there are a few clever tricks you can use when you are low on energy during the day but still need to keep performing.
Restrict fast carbohydrates during the day
As mentioned earlier, simple carbohydrates make you sleepy. Instead of having cereal for breakfast or bread for lunch, it's better to save fast carbs (think rice and potatoes) for dinner. You will definitely fall asleep faster! [*]
An afternoon nap
When you feel sleepy during the day, it's best to surrender to it – if you have the luxury. A 10-minute nap will make you more alert for 1-3 hours after waking up and will give you instant energy. [*] You can use a longer 90-minute nap for improved concentration and memory retention. [*] Ideal for someone who has been studying or has a lot of information to process.
In this blog, you can read more about the science behind a midday nap and how you can best use a siesta for success.
‘A coffee power nap’
Coffee and an afternoon nap may sound contradictory, but it actually works very well. Drinking coffee just before a short afternoon nap gives you a more restorative sleep. Several studies have shown that a coffee nap reduces sleepiness more effectively than drinking coffee alone without sleeping or taking a siesta alone. [*], [*]
For this 'experiment' it is important that you drink the coffee just before you go to sleep and that you do not sleep longer than 20 minutes. The idea is that you wake up when the caffeine has reached your brain. [*]
Suppose you are someone who does not fall asleep quickly, that is not a problem. You don't have to fall into a deep sleep for a coffee nap to work. Light sleep or "dozing" is proven to be just as effective. [*]
For the best effect, use coffee from a single origin that has been tested for mould and mycotoxins and has a high polyphenol content. [*]
Use adaptogens for improved focus and stress reduction
NoordCode's Power Day supplement supports your energy and balance when stressed in the afternoon. Therefore, it is a smart tool to have on hand when you feel an energy dip coming on. The herbs in the supplement are substances that help you find balance. They support the body in changing situations, such as fatigue or stress. They give calmness in times of stress and focus in times of fatigue. You can use these herbs during the day.
You make the supplement's effect extra effective if you apply the above-mentioned tips, such as avoiding fast carbohydrates during the day, at the same time.
More and constant energy starts with applying all the basic advice on sleep, light and movement. Want to know more about that? Then read this blog about the influence of the circadian rhythm on your sleep.
Food also plays a major role in your energy management. Choose unprocessed food and feed your brain with healthy fats, such as fatty fish and egg yolks.
Do you still suffer from an energy dip? Restricting fast carbohydrates during the day is a way to greatly benefit from. Combine that with the adaptogens in Power Day and you have your ultimate hack ready to keep you focused all day long, even in the afternoon.
If you have the luxury of sleeping in the afternoon, give in to the energy dip and go for a short "coffee powernap", from which you will wake up more energetic than a regular afternoon nap.
The Power Day supplement is part of a complete ritual of four supplements that respond to your circadian rhythm. The other supplements in the box, called Circadian Boost, are Strong Morning and Optimal Sleep. Strong Morning is a stimulating nootropic that you take in the morning for alertness and focus. Evening Star replenishes your energy, so you can start the day energetically the next day. Optimal Sleep is an advanced sleep supplement taken two hours before bedtime for a good night's sleep.