afternoon sleepiness afternoon sleepiness Getting sleepy in the middle of the day? There are ways to combat the midday crash. One of them is to actually take a nap. (Photo: Fabiana Ponzi/Shutterstock)

How to fend off the mid-afternoon slump

Learn ways you can conquer the peaks and valleys of your daily energy levels.

It’s a sad but too familiar feeling: eyes glazing over, thoughts slowing down, head starting to droop. It must be 2 p.m. Time for a nap, our bodies seem to say. 

That mid-afternoon slump is the product of our Circadian rhythm, the internal 24-hour cycle of peaks and valleys we experience. The feeling of fatigue in the valleys is exacerbated with too big of a lunch, not moving much from the computer or not enough sleep

This has been a problem in the 9-to-5 culture for decades. The only two ways around the slump are to improve your overall health to have extra energy later in the day, or to have a pick-me-up, which for most people translates to coffee or other caffeinated beverages.

On being healthier, doctors say stay hydrated. Eat small meals throughout the day. If you’re inclined to grab something with sugar, don’t. A 2006 study proved that high-sugar, low-caffeine drinks are not the answer for the slump, either. Another study in 2011 showed that eating more protein, at the expense of foods with sugar, gives the body strength later in the day.

After nutrition, focus on more exercise. Yes, stretching is good, but so is getting up during the day and moving around, as the Wall Street Journal advised in 2013. Regular exercise will reduce the afternoon blahs, as well as improve nighttime sleep patterns, meaning more energy all around.

And then there are the companies recognizing what other countries – like siesta-friendly Spain – have known forever: naps help. More offices are installing nap rooms or using nap pods to allow their employees the 20-minute breaks they need, since studies show that cat naps like these reduce mistakes and increase productivity.

But for the sedentary among us, the mid-afternoon slump is still most often fought with caffeine.

Caffeine is a stimulant that some people swear by, but for others it brings new problems. A cup of coffee has 55 mg of caffeine, which some people need to feel they've woken up, while others say one cup makes them jittery, or they feel their heart racing in their chest.

A young amateur scientist from Israel named Eli Faraggi came up with a new approach. 

His drink is a cocktail of guarana, ginkgo biloba and elderberry flowers mixed in with a proprietary fructose blend that Faraggi developed and patented after learning about the scope of the problem.

"All those people dozing at their desks costs an estimated $136 billion worth of lost wage hours each year," Faraggi told From The Grapevine. He said since the day he learned that factoid studying behavioral psychology in college, he's been occupied with coming up with an answer that could be useful on a global scale.

His startup is called Inno-Bev, and the product is the WakeUp Post-lunch Waker.

Researchers from Rambam Hospital and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa, Israel, have now validated his claims.

Their scientific study set the energy drink against the 55 mg of caffeine in an average cup of coffee and a neutral placebo. The test was measured by impact on alertness after 30 minutes and two hours.

What they discovered was that the new formula outlasted coffee at the two-hour mark, and, unlike coffee, it actually lowered blood pressure and pulse, below even the placebo. A better answer to the mid-afternoon slump could improve afternoons for workers around the world.

Expectations are high for the product, which won the Best Functional Foods award in Europe in 2013 and the SupplySide West’s CPG Editors' Choice Award in 2014 in the Energy Drink category. 

Teams at Google and eBay conducted their own testing of his beverage, he said, and now other companies are buying directly to have a supply at their offices. 

For a startup, delivering to the headquarters of big companies was much easier than getting the new company's bottles distributed for retail buyers, he said, but that distribution deal is finally in the works for May. 

Until then, Faraggi invited the drowsy to contact him via the company website for a sample to stay awake.

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