Shed Pounds, Shed Sleepiness: The Surprising Link Between Afternoon Slumps and Your Scale!

Ever have one of those days where you just feel drained and sluggish in the afternoon? You know, those days when it feels like no amount of coffee or energy drinks can perk you back up and get your brain back in gear. If you’re nodding your head in agreement, then you might be experiencing more than just a case of the afternoon doldrums. Excess weight, stress, and depression may be at the root of your inability to stay alert throughout the day.

The “Epidemics” of Sleepiness, Obesity, and Stress

According to sleep researcher Alexandros Vgontzas, M.D., there seems to be a connection between the rising “epidemics” of sleepiness, obesity, and psychosocial stress. In other words, the more we gain weight and stress ourselves out, the more likely we are to experience excessive daytime sleepiness and feel like we’re walking in a fog as the hours roll by.

But why is this happening? And more importantly, what can we do to reverse these trends and reclaim our energy and focus throughout the day?

Discovering the Connection

In a study at Penn State, researchers found that participants who were obese and/or depressed were more likely to experience excessive sleepiness during the day. The same participants were also more likely to experience sleep disturbances and sleep disorders, which can further contribute to those sluggish afternoons.

When these individuals lost weight, however, their excessive sleepiness improved. This suggests that shedding excess pounds can be beneficial not only to our waistline but also to our energy levels. Stress reduction, too, has been shown to alleviate sleep disturbances and improve overall well-being.

So if you want to kick those afternoon slumps to the curb, the first steps you should take are to focus on losing weight and reducing stress.

Losing weight

There are countless ways to go about losing weight, but the most important step is to make a commitment to yourself. Eating a balanced diet is essential in providing your body with the necessary nutrients to function optimally, as well as reducing the excess sugars and fats that can contribute to weight gain.

In addition to eating well, getting regular exercise is key to shedding those pesky pounds. Not only does exercise help burn calories, but it also releases endorphins (the “feel-good” chemicals) which can help combat depression and elevate your mood.

But don’t worry if you’re not the gym-going type. There are many other ways to incorporate physical activity into your day, such as taking short walks during breaks at work or incorporating some simple exercises you can do at your desk. For more tips on getting started, check out these ideas from WebMD.

Reducing stress

Life is full of stressors, both big and small, but how we handle these stressors can make the difference between feeling overwhelmed and feeling in control. Reducing stress looks different for everyone, as each person has their own unique ways to unwind and decompress.

Some common stress-relief techniques include practicing mindfulness meditation, engaging in a relaxing hobby, connecting with friends and family, or even just taking a few moments to get lost in a good book. Healthline has a great list of 30 tips for stress reduction if you’re in need of some suggestions.

The Takeaway

Ultimately, addressing the problems of obesity and stress in your life can help improve not only your afternoon alertness but also your overall health and happiness. Take the time to prioritize your well-being and create a healthier lifestyle that supports your energy levels, your mood, and your ability to take on the world.