Why Am I So Tired In The Afternoon: Fighting The Crash

If you usually work an office job, do you ask yourself, “Why am I so tired in the afternoon?” Have you wondered why you’re tired between 2-3 pm? Some workers may get extremely tired in the afternoon while on the job. The consequences of working less effectively can result in the loss of productive working hours for employees. It might explain why workers work longer hours and stay later at the office. If you’re familiar with this topic, you’ve likely experienced what many refer to as the afternoon crash. 

Why am I so tired in the afternoon: Decision fatigue

The afternoon crash has been a common issue in the workplace over the years. In psychological terms, there are many factors to consider while working during the afternoon. Some people will experience decision fatigue when your brain gets tired and unable to take on complex tasks. After working so many hours without a break, your mind gets bored and becomes harder to make complex decisions. The longer your work during that time frame, the more challenging it becomes to make complex decisions.

Workplace Survey: How employees handled their workday

To examine worker activities, Paychex came out with a survey earlier this year to address the so-called afternoon crash. In the study of 1000 employees, Paychex looked into worker insights, how responsive workers were in meetings, and approaches to fighting the afternoon crash. Here are some of the significant findings from the survey:

  • Employees were more likely to be productive between 8 am-2 pm. They were less productive between 2 pm-5 pm.
  • Employees were more likely to work on complex tasks between 8 am-noon. On the other hand, they were expected to do simple tasks between 2 pm-5 pm.
  • 71% of workers scheduled their workday around their most productive hours. This approach helped them figure out which hours worked the best for them (in this study, it was during the morning hours).
  • 37.8% of respondents said they attended meetings during the morning (before noon).
  • Respondents who took part in meetings midday (between noon-2 pm) were more likely to be active participants than at other times of the day

Why am I so tired in the afternoon: The crash & tips to conquering “the dip” period

In the same survey, around 81% of respondents reported feeling the afternoon crash during their workday. On the same note, the respondents experienced the afternoon crash on average, 3.2 days per week (which is more than half of a standard workweek).

There is no doubt that the afternoon crash is an issue in the workplace. Fortunately, there are ways to tackle “the dip” during the afternoon hours. If peak performance tends to decline between 2 pm-5 pm, these are the hours’ workers need to be proactive to avoid losing out valuable time. The following tips can help prevent fatigue and make the most out of your less productive hours of the day:

1.) Engaging in therapeutic activities

2.) Taking power naps

3.) Participating in simple tasks during non-peak hours

4.) Working smarter, instead of working longer

Engage in therapeutic activities

Why am I so tired in the afternoon- 1

Similar to your body as a whole, your mind needs to rest properly. One of the best ways to fight decision fatigue and the afternoon crash is restorative rest. By this term, you are engaging in activities that calm and refresh the mind. After working for long periods, the brain needs short breaks throughout the day. Simple activities such as stretching, moving away from your workstation, or brisk walks can be very beneficial. On the other hand, exercises, including deep breathing, yoga, and meditation, can help clear your mind as well.

Restorative rest activities I take part in

Why am I so tired in the afternoon- 2

Over the last year, I’ve taken advantage of activities to clear my mind some days. I regularly get up and stretch my body, especially after sitting for more than an hour. At this point, taking part in meditation has become a regular part of my daily routine. I usually do one-two 15-minute sessions a day to relax my mind. It’s great to weed out distractions and worries out of my head during times I need to stay focused.

Taking power naps over caffeine

Why am I so tired in the afternoon- 3
Power naps can be a great booster during the afternoon hours. As the Paychex survey found, most respondents drank caffeinated beverages later on in the workday. While that may help sometimes, it can affect your sleep schedule if you drink caffeine before bedtime. So power naps (whether it’s 20-30 minutes) can help lower stress levels, along with refreshing your mind to get through the final hours of your workday.

More companies encouraging their employees to take power naps

In recent years, some companies have encouraged their employees to take power naps while on break. These companies may have noticed the payoffs that come with it, including higher alert levels, fewer errors, and increased productivity. Some companies, including Thrive Global (not too long ago), provided rooms with specially designed chairs (aka nap pods for snoozing). Though it may sound off, it’s an excellent way to be creative and think outside the box. But if it helps boost workplace productivity, it should be considered a win for employers and employees.

Participate in simple tasks during non-peak hours

simple tasks
As the Paychex survey indicated, most of the respondents were likely to tackle complex tasks during their peak hours. If it’s during the morning hours, they utilized that time to get the most challenging work out of the way. While during the afternoon (non-peak hours), they were more likely to take on more manageable tasks.

So if you happen to fall in this group of respondents, use the afternoon hours to work on tasks that don’t require deep thoughts or complex decisions. If you find yourself to be in the opposite group, do more challenging work during the afternoon/evening hours. Not everyone’s peak time takes place during the morning hours. So if you’re not a morning person, hold off your difficult tasks until later in the day, when you’re in the middle of your peak hours.

How I manage tasks during my non-peak hours

My peak period falls between a late morning-mid afternoon (10 am-3 pm). So many functions that are quick check off are done after 3 pm on a regular workday. If it’s necessary administrative work or repetitive tasks, I’m better doing them between the hours of 3 pm-10 pm (the latest time I may end up working until). Checking email is something I stay off-limits throughout the day. Usually, I’ll check email for no more than 30 minutes toward the end of my day. My schedule may not be ideal for everybody, so it’s essential to understand what are the best times to take charge of your priorities.

Work smarter, not longer

work smarter
How you use your mind can determine how productive you become at work. Practicing mindful working can help differentiate between “working smarter versus working longer,” as some people would say. We need to focus on the present rather than the past or worry about the future. When workers take that into perspective, the better chances of increasing job performance, productivity, and work satisfaction.

A mindful approach to working smarter now more common

There are benefits to taking a mindful approach to work. Some of them include higher self-awareness, better health, and higher payoffs for employees and the workplace. Even some major companies (such as Apple, Google, and Yahoo) have integrated mindful approaches to training employees. By taking these approaches, companies can come up with better ways to handle stress and boost productivity.

Wrap-Up

The afternoon crash is not a new phenomenon. It’s been a workplace issue that people have struggled with most days, but can be managed better. Taking part in simple activities such as power naps or restorative rest can benefit personally and professionally. Also, identifying your peak time of the day can help determine when you should work on your most demanding tasks.

If you feel more tired in the afternoon, utilize those hours to work on more straightforward tasks. Finally, if you can master how to work smarter than working longer, you’ll be more productive and less likely to feel a dip during the afternoon. These are essential tips to help you beat the afternoon crash at work.

Have you struggled with the afternoon crash? If so, how have you handled the fatigue in the afternoon? Have you used any of the suggestions mentioned earlier?

Leave a comment below and please share this post with others.

 

 

ProfessionalEric is a time management consultant and owner of the blog, quitkillingtime.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time, personally and professionally. Eric is a firm believer in time freedom, as he believes in taking ownership of time. “Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He likes to go for long walks out in nature and been taking Zumba classes every week at his local gym. You can follow Eric via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

12 thoughts on “Why Am I So Tired In The Afternoon: Fighting The Crash”

  1. These are some very helpful tips that can help everyone and anyone to really get kicking during the non peak hoursm to be honest, I always lose the vibes to work after 3pm and often time, I always end up forcing myself into doing almost rubbish. It feels good knowing what to do now to tweak myself into doing the right things and getting it right. Thumbs up to you for sharing out here

    Reply
    • Thanks, Ella (of course)! It’s good to know you found these tips helpful. 

      Especially during the non peak hours, they’re good to apply and keep ourselves on our feet. We sure need to tweak ourselves to doing the right things.

      Thanks again for sharing your input- much appreciated!

      Reply
  2. Well, this is not a bad post at all. I think it is very wonderful that you have given an in-depth analysis of this situation especially with using evidence from surveys. The truth is that this post is actually true and we usually get very tired af the last half of being at work in the afternoon. It happens really well and I understand the myth behind it now. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Of course, Riley.

      Yes, I think we can agree that the afternoon crash has been well known for some time. It’s good to know you (and myself) know this myth more in depth than before. It’s interesting to learn about and what we can do to overcome the crash.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts- much appreciated!

      Reply
  3. Hello Erics, you have given such a beautiful and well detailed article which I find really benefiting to lots of us who finds ourselves in this category. I have been really affected by lack of sleep and sometimes my work suffers for it and it’s not something i like at all. I have actually tried using some drugs but it ends up causing side effects. I would like to try these ideas you have stayed here and see how is goes. Cheers.

    Reply
    • Well thank you very much, Benson! 

      That’s too bad to hear about your health problems. I know sleep has been an issue for a lot of people. It’s probably why people go through an afternoon crash due to a lack of sleep. There are other problems (i.e. genetic) that some people can’t take control of. But that’s what it is in this case.

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. I hope these tips will help you be more productive, and of course, a healthier life as well. I greatly appreciate your input!

      Reply
  4. Sleeping in the afternoon is something that got used to me after quitting my job and deciding to work from home. 

    You outlined some helpful tips

     Engaging in therapeutic activities
    Taking power naps

    Participating in simple tasks during non-peak hours

    Working smarter, instead of working longer

    I would like to share this article with some of my friends. I believe that they would live it

    Reply
    • Thanks, Kirkman. I understand what you’re saying about sleeping in the afternoon. You’re not the only one who went through it. I’m glad to know you enjoyed reviewing the tips I outlined earlier.

      Yes, please share this post with others you know. It’s great when others want to pass along my message on an interesting topic such as this one (the afternoon crash).

      Thanks again for sharing your input- greatly appreciate it!

      Reply
  5. This is an insightful piece, thank you very much for this. I have a friend and a colleague at work who sleeps while at work. My boss has always complained about him and is on the verge of having him fired. Most people, like my friend have things taking up their nap time and do not have the willpower over such. I believe when my friend reads this review, he would sure overcome being so tired in the afternoon. It is very embarrassing at most times, and like my friend, it would have cost him his job. This is indeed an excellent piece. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Of course, Henderson.

      I find it a little funny to hear about your friend/colleague sleeping at work. It reminds of some former peers of mine nodding off/falling asleep some days. Though it wasn’t good for them, I found it funny. 

      But it happens- I hope your friend will wake up before he gets fired. It’s better to warn him now before it’s too late! Please share this post with him- he’ll want to read it.

      Thanks for sharing the story and your input- much appreciated!

      Reply
  6. It amaze me reading your blog of being tired in the afternoon because it actually pointing at me. I am one of those whom you are talking about who needs power naps. Getting tired in the afternoon and feeling sleepy ,we call it this time of the day “holy hour “, a reflection time ,to do therapeutic activities and time for power naps. It’s true for me when we say to ourselves ” Work Smarter not Harder “or Longer  as your have said. I enjoyed your article and gave me ideas about power nap using this strategy though wisely to become a Productive employee.

    Another, power nap is also applied to those working at home, not only to those in the offices.Like for example a mother who is trying to finish all the household works before the kids come home from school. I work at night, so I do power naps at least twice daily…morning and afternoon. After I drop the kids at school, I wash the dishes and take a power nap for an hour. Then continue the work for… I had gained strength again from waking up early to take care of the kids. I will try to finish cleaning up till lunch then take the second power nap before I go to pick up the kids at school.This way I have the strength again to give the attention they need .After all, I just said to myself , “What a Day!”  Over all, I learned so much from your article.All the Best!

    Reply
    • Thank you for your insightful thoughts, Shierly. Well, you’re the right person I’m trying to help out today!

      It’s good to know that you liked the tips I went over. Also, you are right that it applies to people working from home. The afternoon crash is more common to take place at the office, but the same can apply while working at home. 

      You make some excellent points about what you do- kudos on scheduling those power naps. I don’t do it the way you practice, but I’ll have to start doing that. It’s nice to know about.

      Thanks again for your thoughtful feedback. I learned a few things from you, and glad to know you got a lot out of this post. All the best!

      Reply

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