You know that post-lunch feeling that hits around 2 or 3p .m. when all you want to do is shut off your computer, throw everything off your desk, and just take a damn nap? Well, as it turns out, you’re far from alone in probably feeling that sometimes debilitating afternoon lull: It’s actually our body’s natural clock and it’s telling us to go to bed, get under the covers and get some much-needed sleep.
And, luckily for us, an explainer series on TikTok has gone viral for breaking down this relatable, and more or less universal feeling of afternoon tiredness. TikTok user @the.productivity.coach has created this video series, and it’s definitely shedding some light on why so many of us need to chug an extra cup of coffee or grab that sugary donut in the mid-afternoon just to keep up with work. In the first video in the explainer series, @the.productivity.coach talks about the science behind that daily, Sisyphean tiredness.
The TikToker says, “the key piece that we’re looking at in your brain is called the suprachiasmatic nucleus,” which is “a bunch of nerves on top of your pituitary gland that controls literally everything about your day.” The video likens it to a “circadian pacemaker” and tells us that “you have rises and falls of hormones, body temperature, and chemicals that fire in your body that” usually reset on a 24-hour-cycle.
And in this cycle, @the.productivity.coach explains that “the daily high point and the daily low point of your brain have the performance effect of drinking the legal limit of alcohol,” referencing a University of Oxford study. So that means, in theory, you probably wouldn’t want to do anything during that low point that’s crucial because your tiredness is likely inhibiting your performance at whatever task you’re working on.
What does this all mean? What should we take away from this? Apparently that we should be mindful of our peak productivity and wakefulness times and maximize them. For @the.productivity.coach, certain times of day are more ideal for certain tasks, i.e., “the time that you come up with an idea is not the same time that you should start acting on that idea,” according to the second video.
If our work schedules allow for this kind of planning, we should all definitely keep this advice in mind… or at least start trying to convince our bosses that the nap is necessary.