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The Afternoon Slide

The Afternoon Slide

Living with Multiple Sclerosis can be quite the roller coaster ride. While there are issues I have on a consistent basis, there are many symptoms that show up based on outside factors like stress and temperature change. One seemingly bizarre factor for me is the time of day. Even on the days when I feel pretty good, I still tend to struggle in the afternoon. Almost without fail, I hit an afternoon slide on a daily basis. I’ll struggle with a variety of my symptoms and need to rest if I have any hope of salvaging the day. Sometimes I can turn it around, and sometimes I can’t, either way, having the right mindset about rest can be crucial for me.

What happens?

For me, usually around 2 PM most days, my symptoms start to act up. Extreme fatigue, spasms, weakness, pain, and cognitive issues (which is why I tend to do all of my writing in the morning!) tend to be the big ones. While an uptick of these symptoms is rough at any time, when it happens on what was otherwise a decent day, it can be easy to get down on myself. Plans get derailed and I have to lay down. It’s extremely frustrating. Having MS can lead to a lot of not-so-great days, so having one that feels decent get suddenly interrupted can feel like a real slap in the face. It’s important when this happens for me to remember that it can be temporary though, that there’s a chance it’s simply my afternoon slide and that’s all.

But why?

So why does this happen to me so often in the afternoon? Good question, and one I’m not so sure I have the answer to. Like most things when it comes to MS, it’s likely a combination of factors. One interesting thing I discovered while looking for answers, is that our body temperatures usually increase slightly by the afternoon. I’ve mentioned in the past that it doesn’t take much of a temperature change to have a noticeable effect on my symptoms. So maybe that’s one potential cause. I’ve also found that, even for a big guy, my cognitive issues make me forget to eat lunch or breakfast on an all-too-often basis. I also tend to think my afternoon slide happens because I typically do feel much better in the morning and so I tend to be more active at that time. That morning activity then makes me end up paying a smaller version of the “MS Tax” in the afternoon. It could be all of those things, but, again, like so many aspects of MS, I may never actually find out.

I can recover!

While this happens often, it doesn’t happen every single day (a nice reminder that everyone can still have some good days!). When it does happen, there are some things that I can do to help turn my day around. Most importantly, I need to rest. I’m definitely guilty of trying to gut it out and push through the afternoon, but that tends to make things worse. If I have any chance of salvaging my day, I need to rest, to lay down. Preferably in a cool room, and maybe even with a snack. It’s hard to give in and say I’m going to go lay down in the middle of the day, especially if my morning was going well. Mentally, it’s a struggle for me, because I want to be up and productive. My experience has taught me, however, that I need to listen to my body. Most of the time, giving in and resting some will help (though there are certainly days when a short rest turns into an entire day and night of laying down; we’ll always have some days that will start good and become a wash, and that’s OK). I try really hard to remember that I’m not being lazy, I’m trying to actively help my body by giving it some time to recover. That can be a difficult, but important, mindset to accept. A little bit of rest, even a full-on nap, can be extremely helpful.

So yeah, afternoons and I don’t always get along. They don’t have to be a catastrophe though, as long as I have the right mindset. As always, I’m very interested in what others have to say. Do you notice more problems in the afternoon? Do you do anything that helps? Hit up the comments and let me know!

Thanks,
Devin

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Sarah R
    2 years ago

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have the same thing, 2 PM hits and I just lose *all* energy. I’m relieved to hear that it is a part of this disease and not just me being lazy!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you Sarah R! You are most certainly not alone with this!

  • aksj1216
    2 years ago

    This is very similar to how I often get as the day goes on, except I do not have the cognitive issues. Heat is a huge factor for me. Yesterday I went to a friend’s who had a gathering outside on his patio and when I got home (only a couple of hours) I was extremely tired. My mother accused me of being drunk. Kind of wish I had been!!! The problem for me also tends to be mornings, though…I wake up every day being stiff, sore, and tired from not sleeping well. I don’t get going too fast, so by afternoon, I finally start feeling better but then I hit that slide! Ah, well.

  • 10tricia18
    2 years ago

    SO I’M NOT LAZY! LOL
    I slide around 3:00… Naps/rest really do make for a better evening.
    At the age of 42, I fought like a 5 year old to get it in my routine but i am happy I gave in.
    Thank you for writing this.

  • tfs
    2 years ago

    Thanks for writing about this, Devin. As usual you are right on target. I have the most energy in the morning: I usually try and get out to do some task. By afternoon I know a rest will be needed and I notice that if I lay down to read/nap it is usually two hours to regroup. I usually have energy again for the early evening. Yesterday I treated myself to a full day in Toronto with my niece – but I am very tired today. I think just organizing the route and being conscious of the physical effort to navigate – all so tiring.You are such an excellent writer and I really appreciate you.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you so much tfs, I very much appreciate hearing that. Thanks for sharing your experience as well, it seems I am very much not alone when it comes to this afternoon sluggishness!

  • MarkUpnorth
    2 years ago

    I tried fighting it for many years, physically, and cognitively, till I about went comatose for almost 2 years. All it took was eating something to send me off into uselessness. Did not matter what, A single egg and a glass of juice, A granola bar. So, I did not eat till I was willing to give in to the “comatose side”, where I could not even watch a simple easy mindless tv program of any kind because I could not follow it no matter how hard I tried. I knew once I ate anything of substance, I was done for. I started juicing to get nutrition. It kept me from going “comatose”. That was a year and a half. Liquid diet, fruits and veggies. I then Vitamixed fruits and veggies to get some bulk. Another year almost of just that. When trying solid food, yep, comatose. I eventually adjusted my eating slowly trying to follow the Whal’s diet concept. I eventually made it back to eating like a normal person, BUT health, minimizing or completely eliminating all processed foods. Mostly fruits and veg’s with a tasting of meat or fish. I’m doing well, and can again get thru a day without pushing it. I know I can’t go beyond 8 – 9 PM. But, I can get in a productive day again, finally. For me, it was all about the food. That was years ago, but now I see so much on nutrition and M.S. It can be life changing. As my Neurologist told me, it’s too bad more people don’t recognize how important nutrition is. It’s something everyone can do if they are willing to.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thanks so much for sharing MarkUpnorth!

  • jensequitur
    2 years ago

    I’ve been able to tell what time it is by when the dizzies and fatigue hits. 2:30 on the dot, every time. This is a consistent time that has nothing to do with when I get up. It can definitely get worse if I’ve done more stuff that day, but I’ve also had it with a relatively quiet day. The only way to get rid of it is with a nap. At work, my options are limited. I discovered quite by accident (nodding off at my desk) that falling asleep reset my clock, and I was able to function a little better after those few seconds of sleep. If things are really bad, I retreat to the break room and sit in one of the big chars, and set my phone for an hour. I just want to know why we have the afternoon drop in energy – it’s super annoying and makes it hard to function.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing jensequitur, that’s around the time I start to experience the same issues. I wish I knew why as well because right now, I have few options except to give in to it!

  • Diego
    2 years ago

    Great article and on point,

    Right after lunch I usually hit a brick wall, especially now during the hot summer months. Like you I’m left wondering why this is so. My conclusion is that there is no conclusion. I just simply respect my body and do what it tells me. Thats something I’m learning about this path I’m on. And whats wrong with a nice siesta after lunch? Being in the corporate world for about 18 years i was programmed for productivity and always being available. I personally don’t think thats a natural state for our bodies. In latin america during the summer months its standard practice to take 2-3 hour lunch breaks ( naps included!).

    So if your body says nap time, by all means, its nap time. My body usually thanks me and I have enough energy to make it through the rest of the day.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you Diego! As you point out, there really isn’t much to do, except accept it, plan for it, and rest up when you need it. Those latin american lunch breaks sound perfect!!!

  • KimC
    2 years ago

    Devin I have the same afternoon slide issue and feel exactly as you do about it. What hits me the most is extreme fatigue and I ca not fight it. It comes on between 12 and 2 pm. I scramble in the morning to get everything done that has to be done like my bills any reading, decisions, etc. before the slide hits. If it doesn’t boy it’s a great day! But it hits more than not and when you mix in my morning med cocktail it is a wash for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Really affects having a life. Kim C

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you Kim! I understand that morning scramble to get things done all too well. After that, like you, that fatigue can be crushing! Thanks so much for sharing!

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