Why your brain is a killer diary app

I can laugh about it now, but… oh man!

We all know it… that “after lunch feeling“, when you feel a little droopy, concentration is more difficult, and you find yourself more likely to need a coffee, a cigarette, something sweet to eat… zzzzzz.

Last post we talked a little about adrenaline and dopamine and how they can give you a little boost if you’re feeling a bit low.

Here’s the other side of the coin. Behind this is some great stuff on the systems that make this all work and we’ll get to that over the next while but, for now, let’s stick with the after lunch bit.

So you’ve eaten (of course) and you’re flagging. There are two main reasons.

The first is that after a meal, particularly a heavy meal, the body goes through a gentle hypoglycemic drop. In other words, our blood sugar drops while we digest our meal, which leads to drowsiness. It’s called the postprandial dip. So, ease up on the heavy lunch, unless of course it’s the weekend. Then, well, knock yourself out.

But we can also feel like this even without a heavy meal. Here’s why.

We each share a natural daily cycle, called a circadian rhythm. Circa means about, or approximately, and diem means day. So circadian means about a day. A circadian rhythm therefore, is our daily cycle.

And after lunch, say between 1ish and 3ish, we go through a dip in body temperature which is usually correlated with drowsiness. Aaaaaaaahhhhh. Siesta! We feel sleepy, we can’t settle at work as easily, we can’t concentrate, we make mistakes… we fall asleep on clients like I did once. My brain checked out. I’d had a big lunch, it was sunny in my office, the chair was comfy, the conversation serious and involved, the snores probably deafening. Oh man.

It’s times like these that we start to reach for the coffee, the cigarette or the sweet food, all of which are, in one way or another, stimulants. Makes sense doesn’t it. They’ll help us stay awake, and the circadian rhythm can be easily affected by what we do. So we push on and through the dip with a bit of help from Starbucks.

So here’s the take home bit.

Officially, this period is called the postprandial dip. It’s the after lunch feeling. Schools cottoned onto this years ago and tend to schedule more brain hungry activities like math in the morning, when we’re sharper. In the afternoon, when we’re not so sharp, better to schedule other things. Let your brain be your killer diary app.

  • At work, look at rearranging your workflow to suit how well your brain functions at different times of the day
  • Schedule brain hungry, more complex tasks, early
  • Use humor as a natural pick me up for meetings during the postprandial period
  • At home, especially if you’ve kids, understand that young children need an ebb and flow of activity to suit

Impressive words to drop into the morning coffee chat


What have you noticed?

Want more like this? Subscribe for FREE to get Bite sized brains in your inbox!


About brendonbclark

Hi, I’m Brendon, but people usually call me B. I’ve a Masters degree in psychology, postgraduate qualification in mental health, and qualifications in counselling, professional supervision and adult education. I consult, speak and blog. Join me, you can subscribe for free.
This entry was posted in Neuroscience and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Why your brain is a killer diary app

  1. Pingback: Sleep, teenagers and bird brains | Bite sized brains

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s