How to Deal With Post-Lunch Slump

Beginning at two in the afternoon, there’s an insidious evil that affects most offices, plummeting productivity and enraging bosses alike. What am I talking about so dramatically? The much-dreaded, unavoidable and often disastrous (in case your boss catches you) post-lunch snooze.

Why do you have a post-lunch slump?

Why me? Why now? Why can’t I stay awake? Whyyy, zzzzzz… The answer to all these questions is two-sided, meaning it includes both internal factors and external ones.

  1. External factors are pretty simple to deduce – too little sleep, fatigue, an unhealthy diet or breakfast, too much booze and yes, even a little too much action between the sheets the night before. Simply said, if you haven’t had enough beauty sleep, for whichever reason, enjoyable or not, you will be found snoring on your desk the next day.
  2. The internal factors are a tad tricky – noon time is when your body’s circadian rhythm and a physiological drive called homeostasis coincide, thus literally demanding you go to sleep immediately! The circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle of your body clock and it dips and rises (think much like tides) between 2:00-4:00 am and unfortunately, the same time at afternoon. Thus the omigod-i-can’t-stay-awake-syndrome. The other killer is homeostasis – a physiological demand of the body that simply kicks in after hours of wakefulness, demanding sleep. So in essence, the earlier you wake up, the more pressing the need for a noon snooze.

So how do you combat the need of a nap? 

1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

cara delevingne bed

A good night’s sleep is key not just to avoid drowsiness, but also to stave off the urge for that nap after lunch and to get back to being your usual alert self, quickly and effectively. Sleeping on a comfortable bed in the best possible position with minimum noise –for at least 6-7 hours is what makes an alert and productive employee, even after lunch.

2. Breakfast in a cup? Nah!

Coffee and doughnut

A cup of coffee, or worse, a sugar-filled doughnut, does not make a good breakfast. The coffee or the sugar may give you an initial high but come lunch, it will also be your wrecking ball. To avoid that, get some eggs and cereal in the morning before leaving for the office. Keep some nuts handy (the eatable variety) for a mid-morning snack to keep your metabolism up and to revive you till and after lunch.

3. A smaller lunch please!

A heavy lunch is likely to send your digestive system in a tizzy, while lean protein, complex carbs and healthy fats will provide you with all the energy you need to be on a noon roll. An ill-balanced meal – too much fat, “white” carbs or bad protein will lull you to sleep and just wait till your boss catches you!

4. Keep calm and keep walking


Exercise gets your blood pumping and more often than not, the brain working. If your eyes seem to have a mind of their own and you keep snoozing, take a hike. Walk around the office, do some quick squat-jumps in the loo, or take a 10-minute stride down the block.

5. Keep the after lunch work light

sleep at work simpson
The Simpsons

Finally, if this is an urge that you simply cannot get over – keep your post-lunch workload light and make it something you either really like to do or focus on something which involves a bit of physical labour – even if it’s just filing stuff. Moving around will wake you up and so will anything you actually like doing. Otherwise, just invest in some awake eyes tape like the guy above - yes, he’s asleep - at least for the shot!

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Sleep Foundation
NY Times