Thanks to Tricia’s question earlier this week, today we learn about:
What gives us the afternoon sleepies.
After reading through some of the resources I found, I think it’s caused by the combination of three things: Your diet, Your sleep, Your afternoon activity.
First off, eating a large and healthy breakfast will help regulate your appetite throughout the day. It has also been proven to lead to smaller meals throughout the day as well. Beyond breakfast, what you eat sets up how you will feel to some extent for however long it takes your body to process that food and benefit from the nutrients. In some cases that may be 4-6 hours, in others (like mine) that maybe 20-30 minutes. My metabolism is super fast, but there’s a broad spectrum that encompasses everyone. (I don’t know for sure whether the speed or effectiveness of one’s metabolism has anything to do with how long one benefits from or is affected by food … but it stands to reason)
There are some arguments made that your blood pressure drops after you have eaten while your body digests everything. Lowered blood pressure may lead to low energy levels and possibly sleepiness. It may also lead to you feeling cold. Pay attention to how you feel for 30 minutes to an hour after you eat a meal, you might be surprised.
Beyond the timing of your meal, the content of your meal may also have a direct effect on your energy levels. If you eat mostly carbohydrates and sugars, you’ll hit the stereotypical sugar high and then the familiar sugar low immediately after. Welcome to afternoon drowsiness. The healthier you eat and the more balanced your diet, the less likely you’ll be to be affected by such things.
This is kind of a no brainer but here it is: If you don’t regularly get enough sleep you’ll be more prone to sleepiness throughout the day. There’s an important distinction to be made here as well so don’t disappear yet. Just because you have been living in a routine where you get 4-5 hours of sleep each night and your body just wakes up after that much time now … does not mean you’re getting enough sleep. Also, merely sleeping 8 hours (or whatever amount is proper for you, I think it’s in the 7-9 hour range for most people) throughout the day does not mean you’re well rested either. If you sleep in naps and short stints here and there, waking up repeatedly in the middle of the night for whatever reason, you are not getting enough sleep.
Are you totally hosed if one of the previous scenarios struck a chord? No. Just do a little research and try to solve the problems you’re having. Nothing is permanent except for biological or medical issues, and those can be treated more often than not.
If you’re a sloth, don’t be surprised if your body naturally follows the natural cycle of a sloth. If you’re active and are engaged in interesting and provocative things during the afternoon you will be surprised at how you never find yourself sleepy. If you’re like me and get people riling you up in the afternoon, this helps too. I’m not saying you should find 3-400 people to antagonize you every afternoon, I’m just saying that’s what happens with me.
Exercise during lunch, moving around more and staying ambulatory as opposed to sedentary, these are all ways to keep your energy up and avoid the afternoon sleepies.
And that brings us to the end. If you want far more specifics than I discussed here I suggest you check out the links below, and if you have anything you’ve been curious about or found yourself wondering by all means let me know and I’ll address it in next week’s #AskSisyphus.