Do This to Stop That Afternoon Crash (Sleepy after Lunch)

There are two main processes that determine how sleepy you feel. The first process is called the homeostatic sleep drive. The longer you are awake, the more chemicals build up in your brain and send a signal to make you feel sleepy. The chemicals are cleared while you sleep. The buildup while awake explains why someone who has been awake for 24 hours feels very sleepy, and someone who has been awake for 48 hours can barely keep their eyes open.However, it’s not your lunch that’s making you sleepy, it’s a decrease in alertness from your body clock. You then get a strong signal to keep you awake as the afternoon and evening proceed, and you are particularly alert just prior to bed. This is why it can be very difficult to go to sleep earlier than your typical bedtime and why the hour leading up to your bedtime is often dubbed the “zone of forbidden sleep.”When you combine homeostatic sleep drive and the circadian rhythm, you realize that the times you are the most alert and awake tend to be mid to late morning, as well as early evening. These are ideal times to spend working on activities that require attention and vigilance. It’s best to perform boring, mindless activities and chores around the afternoon lull from 1-3 p.m. — as long as you can keep yourself awake.