Young woman outside taking deep meditative breaths

How to fight fatigue, no caffeine required

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Whether you’re detoxing or trying to save pennies by forgoing that second skim cap, there are ways to give yourself an afternoon wake-up call without coffee. And we’re about to spill.

The 3pm slump

It’s like clockwork… 3pm rolls around and suddenly you’re hit by an overwhelming ‘can’t think, need sleep’ feeling.  
 
Thing is, you have to be somewhere in half an hour, so no napping for you. Ordinarily that might mean necking a cup of coffee so strong it could pass as squid ink – but what if there was another way?  
 
“While an afternoon brew might feel like it’s supplying you with an instant energy lift, it can also disrupt your sleep that night, which then perpetuates this cycle of needing caffeine to get through the day, every day,” says Blackmores naturopath Katie Gregory. 
 
So actually, if caffeine’s capable of doing that, you’ll need not just another way, but a better way. Can do.  

3 caffeine-free ways to boost energy quick

With coffee off the menu, here are alternative ways to perk up. 
 

1. Make a move

And make it outside if you can.  
 
“Fresh air cleanses your lungs, which increases the absorption of oxygen into your bloodstream and provides oxygen to your tissues. That can increase your energy and your mental focus,” says Katie.  
 
“You only have to spend a few minutes doing something active. And if you can’t get outside, just stand up at your desk and take a couple of deep breaths. That’ll reinvigorate you, too.” 

2. Drink three glasses of water

Research tells us two things: even mild dehydration zaps energy levels. And drinking three glasses of water can reverse the effect – like, immediately.  
 
In fact, because staying hydrated is uber important, don’t wait until you hit that 3pm slump to have a drink. “Try to sip plenty of fresh, filtered water during the day to sustain energy levels,” says Katie.   

3. Pull your shoulders back

Posture plays a really big role in how you feel. While a slouchy, hunchy posture drains energy levels, an upright, open chest can do the exact opposite.  
 
Why? Scientists say it’s because a positive, ‘I’ve got this’ body posture opens up the same biological pathways that exercise works on to increase energy levels.  

And if you’re still missing that hot-drink hit

Don’t fight it! But don’t head out for a coffee either. “If you’re craving something warm to fuel you, go for some warm cacao mixed with medicinal mushrooms which can reignite your energy and lift your spirits, without that big caffeine hit or comedown that often follows after drinking a coffee,” says Katie.  
 

Long-term strategies for boosting your afternoon productivity

They say prevention is better than cure, so to curb that 3pm slump, ask yourself these three things:  

1. Am I eating enough protein?

“Lunches that are lacking in protein but high in carbohydrates can cause a sharp decline in your blood sugars, which increases that sleepy feeling in the afternoon,” says Katie.  
 
“Eating a well-balanced lunch, one that contains low GI foods, like grainy bread and legumes, alongside some protein, like eggs or a tin of tuna, will help your blood sugars stay more stable.” 

2. Could I use some more B vitamins?

“You need these to convert food into something called adenosine triphosphate, which is essentially your body’s ‘energy currency’,” says Katie.  
 
When a slump hits snack on vitamin B foods like trail mix, tahini on wholemeal toast or a handful of edamame.   

3. Seriously though, how’s my sleep?

“If it takes you ages to wind down at night, consider implementing a better sleep routine, like no screens one hour before bed, diming the lights and relaxing by having a warm bath or shower,” suggests Katie.  
 
“Increasing your intake of tryptophan, which is a pre-cursor to the sleep-inducing melatonin, by eating foods like turkey, pepitas or walnuts at dinner, can help promote a good night’s sleep, too.”