The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, shows that the activation of a reward-processing brain region peaks in the morning and evening and dips around 2 P.M. in the afternoon. According to Greg Murray from the Swinburne University in Australia, “Understanding how the activity in the brain’s reward system changes throughout the day could have implications for depression, substance abuse and sleep disturbances.”
For the study, researchers compared activation of the brain’s reward system in young men during a gambling task at 10 A.M., 2 P.M. and 7 P.M. Their findings reveal that the activation in the left putamen, a brain region related to reward response, was lowest in early afternoon. This may give a reason for the drop in alertness people tend to feel mid-afternoon.
We may have often felt the same. Sometimes it also has to do with the kind of lunch we have. It has been generally seen that a heavy lunch rich in carbohydrates is followed by an afternoon slump. Therefore, food can play an important role in determining your energy levels. Here are five pick-me-ups that you can turn to that will give you a fresh boost of energy.
1. Foods rich in B Vitamins: B vitamins play an essential role in releasing energy from the food we eat. The richest sources are fish, poultry, meat, eggs, dairy products, leafy green vegetables, lentils an whole grains.
2. Dry fruits: Dry fruits and nuts are full of protein, good fats and essential oils that help in boosting your energy instantly. They make for the best snacks and are loaded with Vitamin E, Zinc and Copper that replenish our nervous system and keep us going.
3. Chocolate: If you feel you energy levels dip suddenly, chomp on a piece of chocolate. It has a low GI index and it increases your endorphins giving you an instant energy boost.
4. Slow carbs: Choose foods like whole grains, whole fruits, vegetables or beans that are digested slowly and release energy over a period of time keeping you alert and active.
Along with what you eat, it also matters when you eat. Refuel yourself with small bites every three to five hours to ensure a steady supply of energy.