Afternoon Lull? Grab a 5 Hour Energy Or…

You’ve seen the ads:  the employee/parent/athlete experiences some afternoon fatigue and the “solution” is to simply grab a 5 Hour Energy (or similar energy shot/drink).  This, of course solves everything.  Ta-da!!  Life is good again and our hero/heroine is once again ready to take on the world, right?  Unfortunately, the actual consequences of this “solution” mimic those of using a loan shark to pay off another debt.  The debt – sleep in this case – doesn’t go away, but the payment plan escalates. What the energy drink industry doesn’t mention is those consequences.  Live for today!  You’ll feel great!  You’ll get stuff done! Consequences?  If you’re tired again tomorrow, we’ll be here with another loan… I mean energy shot for you.  And it’s obviously working, as the energy drink industry – EXCLUDING coffee – is expected to grow to $21 Billion by 2017.  Yes – Billion. We won’t go into the dangers for kids or reasons not to mix with alcohol here (Google it if you’re curious).  Rather – let’s keep it simple.  Here’s what happens when you grab an energy shot/drink at 3 PM…

  1. Within moments you feel great, and thus make a mental note that this is the solution to everything you ever needed in life.
  2. But now fast-forward to bedtime.  The half-life of caffeine is 4-8 hours for most people.  So for the average person, almost HALF of the caffeine is still alive and well as bedtime approaches.  Half!
  3. However, you fall asleep reasonably quickly, so you assume you’re a superhero, and for you the half-life is obviously just 2 hours.
  4. But since you’re not actually a superhero (sorry), you may fall asleep somewhat normally but the actual depth of your sleep is negatively influenced.
  5. This lack of deep sleep results in additional fatigue the following day, but hey – there’s always the option of an energy shot/drink, right?
  6. Lack of deep sleep also leads to increased weight gain, less overall productivity, a decreased likelihood that you’ll stick with your workout plan.  And if you’re an athlete, you’ll recover more slowly from high intensity workouts, slowing your progression.

So you get it.  The ads for superhero powers aren’t completely honest and you’re ready to swear off energy drinks/supplements in all but the most dire circumstances. But now what should you do when that dreaded afternoon lull takes place??  Here are a few thoughts to get you started:

  • The most obvious one (I hope) is to make a mental note to make enhancements to your sleep patterns.  Could you shut things down 30 minutes early over the next 7-10 days and note how much better you feel in the afternoons?
  • Lunchtime food choices are a significant influencer as well.  Heavy, carbohydrate-laden foods will cause blood flow to be diverted to the gut, creating additional fatigue elsewhere.

Once those two are effectively addressed, there are a few additional tips that may be worth trying:

  • Bring some DECAFFENATED green tea bags to the office and plan on a cup of green tea in the afternoon.
  • Have an apple.  If you didn’t catch this blog about the “Apple-A-Day” recommendation, it’s worth a glance.
  • Move.  The simple act of getting up and moving around – even for just 5 minutes – will rejuvenate you for a period of time. In fact, consider making a habit of standing up each time you pick up the phone for any reason, as it’s an easy cue.
  • Examine your work patterns.  Do you always attack the exciting projects in the morning, saving the dull ones for the afternoon?  No wonder you’re yawning.

Unlike an energy shot, these solutions won’t provide you with immediate wings.  But if you’re ready to live life to the fullest, they’re much more likely to help get you on that path than taking out yet another loan on the body!

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