Should you take a nap, walk or take caffeine to fight fatigue after lunch?

It’s no secret that many suffer physical and mental decline after lunch, so much so that some feel the need to take a nap. Many factors can contribute to this midday sleepiness, including poor sleep, poor choices or too much food at lunch, lack of sunlight, lack of exercise, or poor hydration.

Some found ways to keep going through the afternoon; some are still struggling. Common options available if you want to get rid of this midday plague are to take a 15-20 minute nap, walk for 15-20 minutes, do a short workout, or add a caffeine fix.

To nap or not to nap

Most people feel the need to take a midday nap, but only a small percentage of us may even consider napping as an option, largely due to our circumstances or work environment. According to the American Psychological Association, napping isn’t a feasible option for more than two-thirds of the population, so you have to manage or find other ways to feel less tired.

However, if you have a place to rest during a lunch break, a short nap of 15-20 minutes has been proven to have many short-term benefits, including:

Although research has shown that 30 to 60 minute naps can boost creativity and memory, longer naps can slow you down and interfere with your nighttime sleep schedule if taken too late in the afternoon.

Between 12:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. is the best time to find a few minutes to take a nap. Matthew Walker, author of “Why We Sleep,” recommends using the nap to better understand your natural circadian rhythm and sleep cycles. However, Walker dislikes taking naps to replace a bad night’s sleep or using weekends to make up for lost sleep.

Consider something other than a nap

If you can’t lie down at work during a lunch break, take a 15-20 minute walk before or after (your choice) eating your lunch. This is not the only situation that dictates not taking a nap. Those who should avoid napping are those who find it difficult to sleep soundly at night as it can have negative results. In fact, Walker points out that napping doesn’t help with sleep debt (catching up on a bad night’s sleep), and in fact, the need for a nap can be a sign of something more serious, like sleep apnea, anemia, thyroid distance, diabetes or depression.

Try combinations of options

If the afternoon drags on and you feel like you need a boost, consider taking a caffeine fix before taking a nap or a walk. This combination can quickly help you get back on track, and author Daniel Pink gave it the nickname “Nappuccino” in his book, “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.”

I find that a 15-20 minute walk right after an unsweetened post-lunch tea gives my afternoon a solid boost, especially if I need to get creative writing projects or staying alert while driving. for the rest of the day.

The Foods We Eat and Outdoor Sun Exposure

The foods and snacks you choose to eat during the day can play a major role in whether you feel like you need a nap. Processed foods, high-sugar food and drink choices, or too much food (even protein) can cause your body to go into a natural “rest and digest” mode. Be sure to get sunlight in the morning or take vitamin D supplements to help your body better regulate your natural sleep cycles.

Both of these terms have been used by the military and NASA in research that shows the benefits of napping. In fact, Army Health and Fitness Field Manual FM 7-22 states that “short, infrequent” periods of sleep “build physical lethality and mental toughness” and “restore wakefulness.” and promote performance.

NASA released a research study that showed that scheduled rests for pilots during long flights were helpful in reducing attention lapses or “micro-sleeps.” The Federal Aviation Administration has deemed the “power nap” acceptable and has been helping pilots since 1990.

Think of these options as tools in your backpack as you try to stay more alert and get more productive in the afternoon. There’s no reason why frequent use of all three (nap, walk or workout, caffeine), plus solid food choices at breakfast, can’t be an integral part of your post-workout ritual. midday. However, the most important solution is restful end-of-day sleep with the creation of a pre-sleep habit that produces the right environment to sleep well through the night.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author Certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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