by Dr. Bill Rawls
Feeling sluggish or sleepy in the afternoons? Listen as Dr. Rawls explains the reasons why you might be zapped of energy later in the day, plus how cortisol and your circadian rhythms may be out of balance. For a better night’s sleep and more energy during the day, learn our best tips for winding down here.
Question: Why does my energy take a dip in the afternoon?
Tim Yarborough: Christina asked the question ahead of time, and then Joanna as well, about time of day, and noticing they’ve got a pretty steep lull in the afternoon of energy. They just kinda lose all their energy about 3-4 p.m. Could you talk a little bit about circadian rhythms and cortisol and some of those things that might be at play here?
Dr. Rawls: I think that we can attribute that lull in the afternoon, I think part of it is hormonal. So we have cortisol that basically allocates resources in cellular functions. So you think about this: We are a composite of cells, and our brain is kind of sensing what’s going on in the outside. And our brain’s job is to coordinate all those cellular functions. So we’re active during the day, so it wants to energize our cells or stimulate our cells to generate energy so they can do that work through the day. All of our cells are working for us during the daytime. But at night, we want to ease down and give our cells downtime.
So those hormones are kind of turning off all of our functions. So part of that afternoon lull, I think, is just that, you know, we start having that downturn. You know, cortisol starts turning off our functions in the late afternoon and into the evening to relax those things to get us ready for sleep at night. So I think that’s part of it.
But the other side of it, and I ran into this, and most people I talked to do too, that we’re not getting ideal sleep. Your cells need that sleep for downtime, and that’s when your cells are rebuilding mitochondria and rebuilding those energy stores. So if you haven’t slept, if you’ve got six hours or four hours of sleep the night before, you know, you got some sleep, and you’re going to get a little bit of a surge that you’re going to have some mitochondrial energy in the morning. But by afternoon, you’re going to be losing that just because you haven’t built up much reserves there. So basically, your cells run out of energy, and you’re going to run out of energy, too. So I think it’s cortisol and built up mitochondrial energy.