Afternoon, post snack sleepy-ness - How to avoid?

I am wondering if anyone has experienced and troubleshooted this before.
I find that in some afternoons (2-3PM), following a snack, I can get really sleepy.
I am trying to link this to something I eat but haven’t made the connection yet.
I can have a few different mid afternoon snacks (e.g. smoothie, cappuccino, cookie, oatmeal, skyr with granola, …).
I don’t believe this is just the result of being tired.
I have not metabolic disorder that I am aware of.
I am seated for most of the workday, at a computer.
If anyone has any suggestions of what to try to re create the feeling, or if there is a very likely cause of this and to just avoid it, I am all ears.
Thank you,

Are you training on said days? Also do you still get sleepy if you don’t snack?

after lunch sleepiness, which I often use as an excuse to get up and have a healthy snack - usually fresh fruit, nuts, or veggies. Those snacks never make me sleepy. Also, as a rule no caffeine after 10am. Years ago when I worked in a large office complex, would go with my boss for afternoon coffee and it had the opposite effect and made me even more sleepy!

I do ride early in the morning, before work 2-3 days per week and 1-2 days per week I do a Dialed Health kettlebell workout. So yes, most days I do a workout in the morning, before work.
Good question but I don’t think I get sleepy when I do NOT snack.
However, I snack because I am hungry, at least I think I am, so I am not sure if I want to skip the snack … but maybe I should?

If it’s an option, occasional short walks outside (or just hanging outside in general) would probably help. Aside from the activity, depending on how well your office is (or isn’t) ventilated the CO2 levels can climb over the course of the day. And one of the earlier effects from higher CO2 concentrations (around 2,000 ppm, iirc, though I don’t have the ASHRAE standard/research in front of me at the moment) is drowsiness.

Maybe it is the cappuccino? I do use decaf beans but maybe this is still it. Sometimes I had a dash of syrup for a bit of sweetness so maybe the combination is causing some hypoglycemic rebound thing and making me sleepy?
I can try this for a week, drop the decaf coffee drink and only have a healthy snack if I get hungry and see what happens.

Good luck - everyone is different and your results may vary!

I found that cutting out my morning coffee/all caffeine eliminated my afternoon sleepiness. I got rid of all caffeine for several months, and have now started back with one afternoon coffee per day. My afternoon crash at 3pm is gone. Sounds like you don’t do much caffeine though?

The other obvious thing is more sleep. I’ve spoken with lots of people who say they only need 5-6 hours a night. I’d love to be like that but I’m not. I need minimum 8hrs a night and probably more when I’m training hard. Try going to bed earlier and waking up naturally (no alarm) and see if that makes a difference. If you get 10 hours sleep and still need an afternoon nap then it might be worth talking to your doctor to get your iron levels tested and general blood analysis. Might be an easy fix there with a multivitamin.

Don’t snack, it’s unhealthy anyway: it raises your blood sugar which is the cause of most modern disease and does not allow your teeth enough time to remineralize, increasing your chance of caries…

… but do snack if you want to time your protein intake optimally by eating six 25g portions.

shakes fist at the complexity of nutrition


I have had this problem as well - but after lunch, rather than post snack. I work in an office and a couple of us started a habit of taking a short walk outside (~5mins) on our way back from lunch. It has definetely helped a lot.

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I can give you at least a couple plausible links.

  1. Hypotension caused by increased bloodflow to gut.
  2. Norepinephrine release, and epinephrine suppression after eating. “rest and digest” hormone pattern.

If it’s number 1, increasing sodium and fluid consumption before and during snack might solve it.

If it’s number 2…

might help. :slight_smile:

And I know you say this:

But, you might be tired and benefit from more sleep, if ridding yourself of this afternoon sleepiness is a primary goal. Sleep needs are higher than most folks think. The 7-8hr recommendation proffered by many is definitely a case of “eh, it’s good enough” and is vastly overapplied, especially among heavily active / exercising folks.


Mid-day sleepiness is outlined in Mathew Walker’s - Why We Sleep.

His argument is that its part of our genetic code - and we have evovled to sleep in the afternoon, to avoid the afternoon heat/sun. Many countries and communities still practice this in the form of the siesta.

Ofcourse most of us can’t afford to nap during the afternoons.

I treat myself to a big lunch on fridays - and often feel incredibly sleepy afterwards. I could avoid this by having a smaller meal - but I rather than the meal.

Perhaps move your snacks outside of the lunch window. Maybe 11am or 4pm - I wonder if this would help.

Carb rich meals makes me sleepy because of the sugar crash. This is a normal thing in all people but me and my discovered that I have a reactive hypoglycemia. So I always combine carbs with little fat and protein.

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That’s a good point.

Timing of symptom onset matters here.

Reactive hypoglycemia is generally felt after a spike in blood sugar. That takes some time. Usually at least 30 minutes to the peak spike, then at least another 15 to the crash. Hypoglycemia for most folks happens 40-100 minutes after eating. (unless they start exercising… and then it can happen faster. At rest, 40-100 is roughly average for post-prandial reactive hypoglycemia.)

@vanbc is your sleepiness happening within 40 minutes eating. Like more like 15-30 minutes afterwards, and then lingering for for a while until you’re somehow finding yourself a little more revived.

If yes, then it’s probably most related to rest-and-digest type signaling and maybe bloodflow changes.

The reason I suspect it might not be reactive hypoglycemia is that usually folks don’t report “sleepiness” as the primary symptom in complaints of hypoglycemia. It’s usually more like:

“I’m so tired and weak” or “weak and shaky” or “super hungry and shaky.” Usually sleepiness will be the 3rd or lower thing on their list of complaints, or not reported at all.

But @vanbc could be just feeling it a bit different than other folks too!


Yea this is spot on. I read this book too. It’s more natural than you think. He states in the book if you are getting that feeling mid morning then it’s most likely not enough sleep. Otherwise it seems somewhat natural.

I can get this most days to varying levels. I notice that if I’m not engaged enough in what I’m doing it hits hard. Sitting at a computer is not natural. I think getting outside is good advice. I also use a standing desk. I’ve tried to chase what could be happening as it gets frustrating but eating really healthy and staying hydrated only changed a bit of it. Also, working out early(and especially doing TR training) will eventually catch up anyway.

If I am not really hungry but feeling sleepy I will eat a cinnamon Altoid. They just give my senses a jolt. Also I try to avoid heavy meals during my work day because I don’t want to feel sluggish.
Does your work allow you to request a standing desk? I saw that someone else mentioned this and it has helped too.

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I’ve had experience with that before a couple of years ago when I first started training on TrainerRoad on top of working a mentally demanding job. What fixed it for me (and many other training related issues) is counting my calories to make sure I eat enough carbs before, during and after a workout. What I found would happen is that I would not fuel enough for a workout and then fall behind on my reserves and crash hard in the afternoon.

You can try counting your calories/carbs for a few days and maintain a slight caloric surplus to see if it improves your energy levels.

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