Picture this: You wake up in the morning energized and ready to tackle your day. A cup of tea and you’re off to the races. You breeze through your day, ticking to-do’s off your list and squeezing in breakfast and lunch along the way. You’ve got this! But then as you approach the afternoon hours, a cloud of fatigue rolls in to stop you dead in your tracks. All you can think about is laying down for a cat nap, but too often you resolve to power through with another dose of caffeine. Can you relate?
An afternoon crash can be frustrating when you’ve got daily obligations on the line, but this is the body’s way of sending signals that it’s tired-- likely for a good reason. Here are 6 reasons why you may be experiencing an afternoon crash, and what you can do to bounce back.
1. Food Allergies or Sensitivities
Have you ever noticed that right after eating lunch you get sleepy? This could be due to poor dietary choices, or it could be that you have a hidden food sensitivity or allergy. Sweet or starchy carbs, enriched grains like rice and pasta, or overly processed sugary food like cakes or donuts can cause drowsiness, fatigue and brain fog. This happens because initially the sugar rush induces a spike, giving you a short-lived high. But what follows a high? A come down or crash. If you find yourself extra drowsy after eating, chances are you may have a food allergy. The more familiar you are with your body and the foods that it best responds to, the better dietary decisions you can make to prevent that tiresome afternoon crash. I recommend taking a food sensitivity test from EverlyWell to measure your body’s IgG response to the main food groups and get guidance on what foods to avoid. Use code EVERLY to get 12% off your order.
2. Cortisol Crash
Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone responsible for moods, motivation and fear. It’s generated in the adrenal glands, located at the top of the kidneys and it’s main responsibilities include regulating blood sugar levels, inflammation, metabolism and memory function. When cortisol levels are too high, you can have a crash with accompanying symptoms like severe fatigue, irritability and difficulty concentrating. Why does this happen? Stress triggers send signals from hormones and nerves telling the adrenal glands to release hormones, including cortisol. Sometimes those triggers can release too much cortisol, resulting in low energy levels. Cortisol levels peak in the morning and steadily slow down throughout the day. Because cortisol is a vital hormone responsible for cognitive function and energy levels, an afternoon crash can occur.
Some steps you can take to minimize the effects of a cortisol crash are to eat regularly throughout the day and stick to lean proteins, fiber and low carbs. Balanced hormones are critical to stabilized energy levels, and overall wellbeing. At the minimum I recommend using EverlyWell Sleep & Stress Test, but if you really want to dig a little deeper you can also order the EverlyWell Womens Health Test or the Everlywell Mens Health Test, both which will give you much more in-depth on your hormones and cortisol through the day. Whichever test you order, make sure to use code EVERLY to get 12% off your order.
3. You’re Getting Glutened
Gluten is a notorious offender of the afternoon crash and can leave you feeling fatigued and downright delirious. In fact, fatigue is the most frequent symptom associated with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, leading 3.1 million Americans to follow a gluten-free diet, according to Mayo Clinic. Personally, I can tell right away if I’ve been glutened because it feels like I’ve hit a massive wall of drowsiness. If you find yourself tired after meals, especially in the afternoon, gluten may be the problem. Find out if you’re sensitive to gluten with an EnteroLab Test, a safe and comprehensive approach to specialized lab testing for food sensitivities such as the Everlywell Food Sensitivity Panel.
4. An Underlying Thyroid Issue
The thyroid is a vital component for overall well-being as it’s responsible for regulating metabolism. One of the most common reasons people experience severe fatigue is due to an underactive thyroid. Symptoms of hypothyroidism (meaning your thyroid is under-producing), include fatigue, depression, brain fog, sluggishness and other debilitating symptoms. If you’re experiencing daily fatigue, an underlying thyroid issue may be responsible. Monitoring your thyroid is essential to ensuring optimal health, especially if you’re experiencing severe fatigue. Take the at home EverlyWell Thyroid Test to get in touch with your thyroid and check out my blog post about why it’s so important to run a full Thyroid panel. Make sure to use code EVERLY for 12% off!
5. Bad Sleep
A poor sleep schedule can certainly lead to an afternoon crash. To truly benefit from a good night’s rest, be sure to set up a space that is conducive to deep and rejuvenating sleep. Make sure the room is dark, electronics are silenced and there are no potential distractions to pull you out of deep sleep. But in this digital era, is that enough? Dave Asprey, the creator of Bulletproof Coffee, describes junk light as the equivalent of junk food. So, what is junk light? Well, the body’s internal clock is linked to natural light, this is known as circadian rhythm. However, our body’s have been rapidly inducted into the blue light spectrum with regular exposure to screens from computers, smartphones and tv’s. One of the largest effects blue light has on our daily functioning is that it messes with our sleep schedule by suppressing the body’s production of melatonin, which is necessary for deep sleep. In light of these new findings, a science regarding how to hack your sleep has been developed to help you sleep better, and ultimately avoid an afternoon crash from bad sleep. Check out my blog post on 10 ways to optimize your sleep.
6. Dietary Decisions
Here’s the deal: food is energy. This means that you can either choose to put good energy in your body with high-quality protein and good fats, or you can put bad energy in your body with empty carbs and sugars. Eating a healthy, well-rounded diet that is low in carbs and sugar will allow your body to sustain energy from protein and fats. But in order to truly reap the benefits of a healthy diet, it helps to have a few tricks-- or delectable and nutritious recipes-- up your sleeve. You can now purchase my new cookbook, Wandering Palate, which is a 28-day meal plan to keep you on track eating clean and healthy.
In this fast-paced world, who has time for an afternoon crash? The great thing about living in a this technological era is that we have access to a myriad of resources like at home health tests, and innovative health strategies. With that in mind, address these six reasons that might be slowing you down so that you can reclaim your energy and finally kick that pesky afternoon crash!
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