Ever found yourself back at your desk after lunch desperately trying to hide a mega yawn from your boss?
Don’t even answer that. We already know what you are going to say yes. The post lunch sleepy feeling is universal. If it wasn’t the Spanish would’ve never invented the siesta now would they?
But why does it happen? You may have had a great night’s sleep, free from any bad dreams, and woken feeling great the next morning. But without fail after lunch the sleep feeling slowly begins to kick in. What a nightmare!
Well, if you’d like to know why, please read on and we will give you three of the top reasons. And don’t worry it’s perfectly normal.
1. The contents of your lunchbox
You’ve probably already guessed that the first and most obvious reason you feel sleepy after lunch is something to do with the food you’ve just eaten.
Basically as soon as you put anything into your mouth a whole heap of processes are triggered. The most important one in relation to your energy levels is a spike in your body’s insulin levels.
After we have consumed anything our pancreas kicks into action and releases insulin into our bloodstream in order to regulate our blood sugar levels. The increase in insulin triggers the production and release of the hormones serotonin and melatonin into our brain. Both of these hormones are connected to sleep and as a result induce drowsiness.
Why would your body do this to us? Why body?
Well, the answer to that is simple; our bodies only have a finite capacity for action and in order to let the digestion process work as efficiently as possible it wants you to slow down and limit the energy you are expending on anything else. Including focusing on that presentation your boss is currently giving.
The larger, heavier or more complex the meal, the greater the drowsiness is likely to be. So, if you wish to limit the extent of your afternoon yawn marathon maybe stick to lighter snacks.
2. It’s just your body’s natural rhythm
Now, not everything to do with your post lunch sleepy feeling is to do with the contents of quantity of your lunch. No, chances are you could skip lunch entirely and still most likely feel a little on the tired side.
That’s because a lot of the sensation is to do with your body’s natural circadian rhythms. These being a well-defined internal clock that shapes our energy levels throughout the day.
Operating in roughly 8 hour cycles, out circadian rhythms are a hard-wired cycle that differs for each individual. But as most of us will awake around a similar time, a lot of us hit the mid afternoon trough at a similar enough time. With 3pm being identified as the lowest point of our alertness. Our energy levels rising again to a peak around 6-7pm, before flagging again at 11pm, also known as bedtime.
3. The dreaded crash
We often to forget – or deliberately chose to forget – that caffeine is drug. And like any drug it needs to be treated with respect. Unfortunately many of us don’t quite understand quite how potent it can be.
A caffeine crash often occurs a few hours after an individual has consumed a medium to high level of caffeine. And coincidentally our post lunch tired feeling is generally timed a few hours after our mid morning coffee.
The impact of a caffeine crash is more profound if the individual is tired to begin with, and completing the irony is that individuals who consume more caffeine often struggle to sleep well. This then leads them to consume more coffee in order to function. A cruel cycle indeed.
Thankfully, whilst caffeine withdrawal is tough there are a lot of alternative beverages that can help you overcome the hump, some of which will actually help you get a good night’s sleep.
The first thing to establish is that the post lunch sleepy feeling is absolutely and completely normal. If you stop hiding your own yawns behind your computer screen for a moment and take a peek around the room, chances are everyone else in the office is doing as tired as you – including your boss!
But while it is normal there are of course one or two things you can do to reduce just how sleepy you will be. Instead of challenging your body to digest an unnecessary monster lunch, switch to something lighter and smaller. And instead of relying on coffee to dictate your energy levels, try and limit your caffeine intake to avoid dreaded crashes.
And remember even if you do follow the above advice, your body’s natural rhythms dictate that you will still be a bit sleepy come mid-afternoon. So, if you are going to feel sleepy anyway why not lean into it and take a nap. The power of the power nap is becoming increasingly understood. Google have even installed high-tech nap pods in all their offices. If it is good enough for those guys, why not give it a whirl yourself?
Happy nap times!