Why do we feel sleepy in the afternoon?

Boring afternoon

I often feel tired and lazy between 2:30 pm to 4 pm in office. A task that takes five minutes in the morning starts to take fifteen minutes in the afternoon.
It becomes especially difficult if you have a meeting during this time, since as per my current position, I cannot postpone it 😛 .
So as usual, I researched it a bit and found out that its more common than I think.

:> Why ?

Just like most of the bodily activities are cyclic. Means there is a rhythm our body follows (technically known circadian rhythm). If you’ve not completed your usual quota of sleep the previous night then these dips can be even more intense.
On the other hand, having enough sleep can reduce the intensity of such dips.

[Other] reasons may include: 

Heavy lunch: in case of heavy lunch, body extracts extra energy from your body to digest, which in  turn reduces the overall quota.

Schedule change: In case of any schedule change like you have started jogging/gym in the early morning (or any other physical session), you will feel dip. Since your body did not adapted to this change yet. Though it will, depending on your workout sessions.


Heuristic naps: Since childhood, have been taught to sleep in afternoon, so that our parents could sleep peacefully 😛 . Maybe this schedule has caught on.


Boring work: It seems this reason is for me these days. The kind of interest you show in your work is inversely proportional to dip you feel.
Now you can think, why a new GOT episode you can watch even in late hours and why you can’t create a PPT in afternoon. Hell, I am getting bored just after thinking it :/

:> You have stated reasons but not yet answered why the rhythm itself exists ?

Reason for this is that human beings are bi-phasic (physically designed for two sleeps a day), with two major bodily rhythms (homeostatic sleep drive and circadian arousal) which pull us in different directions in terms of staying awake or sleeping, but they fascinatingly align in the middle of the day to create a ‘nap zone’.

This bi-phase could have evolved during our evolution. When humans were just plain wild hunters, they were able to get only few preys during afternoon since animals were not in the open (maybe due to another hunting predator or scorching heat in that time period etc). Thus they both might have decided to rest instead.

:> Ok, so how to overcome that ? Give both temporary and permanent solution.

A given solution directly depends on the cause of this dip.

If its meal, eat light.
If its workout schedule change, have patience, it will get sorted out by itself.
If its boring work, well you know what to do… 😛 . Just kidding, its true that given assignment is boring. But that’s not all. If there is one reason of why you do not like your job, then there must be several others, of why you do. You just need to find out 🙂

Saying that, below are the generic solutions one may try…


Usually, people overcome this dip by having a coffee or something sugary. However, this is not a good idea as a little while later your energy levels may dip even further. Also, as we all know coffee works around 45-60 mins later consumption. So if you are going for it, go sooner.

As a catalyst, you can go for a five-minute walk in the sun (if you have that kind of spacesuit 😛 ).


Sleep tight. Also don’t take 8 hours for the sake of taking 8 hours of sleep. Sleep as much as you need. Sleep early if you don’t want to curse your alarm clock. I know its easier said than done, but you need to plan the night first if you want to plan the day.

And if all else fails, take out your mobile, make it silent-vib mode, then take a 20-minute nap wherever you feel comfortable like a Panda 🙂 .

Sleepy Panda

I think this article is getting too long which is making me slleeee…..