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Do you ever feel like you can’t focus in the afternoon? That your energy is dipping and it’s hard to get anything done? You don’t feel as productive or motivated and even the work you do is of lower quality. Well, you’re not alone. Way more people than you can count experience the same thing every day, maybe at the same time you experience it 👀

The phenomenon in question is known as an ‘afternoon slump’.

It’s due to something called the ‘circadian rhythm’. It’s like a biological clock that decides when you wake up or go to sleep and even controls your hormones, body temperature and blood pressure.

It’s also responsible for producing melatonin – yeah the thing that makes you sleep well – at night, and stops its production when it’s time to wake up. When something has so much under its control, understandably it spills over to other things as well.

I mean to say that the circadian rhythm also influences our energy and focus levels throughout the day. While we’re super energetic during some parts of the day, we can be the absolute opposite during other times. For example, our energy levels drop massively during the night, but we don’t notice it because we’re asleep.

Many people’s cognitive abilities steadily increase until they reach their peak focus levels in the late morning between 10 am to 12 pm.

After that, our energy levels decline sharping landing us in the afternoon slump. This occurs about 7 hours after waking up; which is between 1 pm to 4 pm for most people. This is the time when we feel distracted, groggy or unmotivated to work.

The slump is followed by some hours of alertness and energy, but as the night approaches, our melatonin levels start to increase, thereby repeating this cycle all over again.

Even though the rhythm is different for different individuals, the overall pattern remains pretty much the same.

alertness levels graph 

As you can see, our alertness drops mid-afternoon. Even though the slump is bound to happen, a few factors can worsen or improve the curve.


People consider it smart to work late at night because they get a few extra hours to work. What they don’t realise is that it is counter-productive for the following day because they are more likely to wake up exhausted and won’t be able to focus on their work. So the fix is actually to get a good night’s sleep that allows you to wake up fresh and rejuvenated, which further allows you to work efficiently.

Eat a balanced lunch 

Having a heavy meal full of carbs causes a rapid spike in our blood sugar levels. This sounds like we’ll get more energy. But the thing is that the blood sugar drops just as fast as it had spiked, leaving us more fatigued than earlier. Therefore, it’s better to have a lunch containing protein, fibre and fat (things that take longer to digest, keep you full for longer, and don’t cause a sudden spike), instead of just simple carbs.

Move you body

If you have the option, go for sunlight for some time. It does wonders for your health and also sends a signal to the circadian rhythm, “Hey, the sun’s still out and shining. We don’t need any sleep right now, we’re all good.”

Taking a walk is also a great idea because it gets your blood flowing which increases alertness. Detach from work, move your body, and enjoy some company (or be alone if you have been dealing with people all day).

Take a power nap

You need to take a nap to relax your body and mind. This is why your nap should be just long enough that your body gets time to relax. A 10-20 mins nap is a good fit. Much longer than this and you’ll begin to feel sleepy. That will not only make it harder for you to wake up due to sleep inertia but will also mess up your sleep cycle.

Do easy tasks

It’s better to schedule easy-going light tasks, which have fewer chances of you making errors during this period. They will neither require much of your focus nor will they demand your attention at a later point in time when you’re more alert.

A few more tips

You can also try a few more things like drinking water, doing a plank or a pushup, listening to songs and switching up your tasks to get more variety.

Tell me what are your ways to handle the afternoon slump?

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