Something pretty crazy happens in your body at about 2 or 3pm every day. Around this time, most people start to get a little more drowsy. If you can't focus as well as you did a few hours earlier, you're not alone.
This temporary sleepiness isn't just a post-lunch "food coma". It's a natural phenomenon of the human body clock, one of two daily slumps that are built into our circadian rhythm. (You may not have even noticed the other energy and body temperature slump, because it happens around 3am, when most of us are still sleeping.)
It's a performance-sucking problem. Recently, researchers from Harvard Medical School estimated that workplace sleepiness and drowsy employees cost the average-sized Fortune 500 company around $80 million (just more than R1 billion) a year. Scientific studies suggest that some of our neural pathways slow down at this time, which means it's tougher to evaluate problems and make good decisions.
A proven way to counteract this tired time is to lean into your sleepiness with a quick nap. It's an idea that researchers from Japan to the UK have endorsed, suggesting that pairing a short nap with a jolt of afternoon coffee can be a recipe for staying alert and accident-free through the day.
The effects of a good, quick nap go beyond the immediate benefits. Scientists have observed how daily naps can reduce blood pressure, improve immunity, and even lower your chances of dying from heart disease. Harvard sleep researcher Robert Stickgold says naps can even make people better problem solvers. His research has shown that naps help people pick out important information from all the noise.
Longtime nap sceptic and author Daniel Pink says this kind of coffee nap, or "nappuccino," as he dubbed it, recently changed his life for the better.
In his 2018 productivity-hacking book, "When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing", Pink says "after a few months of experimenting with twenty-minute afternoon naps, I've converted".
Napping is not for everyone, though. The Mayo Clinic suggests that if you have trouble getting to sleep at night or suffer from insomnia, then napping may not be the best post-lunch solution for you.
But if you're ready to give the science-backed art of true power napping a try, here's how it's done: