RISE Sleep Tracker
One of Apple's Best Apps of 2024

Stay Productive Through Your Afternoon Dip

Your energy naturally dips in the afternoon. Stay productive during these lulls by knocking out routine tasks and other less focus-intensive work.
Reviewed by
Jeff Kahn, M.S., Rise Science Co-Founder
Our Editorial Standards
We bring sleep research out of the lab and into your life. Every post begins with peer-reviewed studies — not third-party sources — to make sure we only share advice that can be defended to a room full of sleep scientists.
Learn more
Updated Regularly
We regularly update our articles to explain the latest research and shifts in scientific consensus in a simple and actionable way.
Person working on laptop looking at watch trying to stay productive through afternoon energy dip

We’ve all felt it: the dreaded post-lunch slump. 

All morning you were feeling productive and motivated--confidently knocking out the most intimidating items on your to-do list, feeling articulate and knowledgeable on your cold calls, taking tough client questions and objections in stride--only to return from your lunch break dull and dragging, suddenly daunted by the idea of meeting your monthly quota. You can’t seem to string together so much as an email salutation, let alone compose the persuasive pitch you need to have done by EOD.  

A lot of sellers blame their lunch, thinking their veggie burger and fries is the reason for the sudden onslaught of sluggishness. But contrary to popular belief, the ever-common afternoon “energy trough” has little to do with simple starches. This daily energy dip is scientifically referred to as your postprandial dip, and is actually due to your circadian rhythm. Our bodies are simply designed to slow down in the afternoons, regardless of what we eat for lunch.

But just because the afternoon power-down is an inescapable truth of our biology, doesn’t mean we’re helpless in the face of it. While “productivity” will look different at different points in the day, we can still get quality work done during our dips if we’re smart about the ordering of our day’s activities. All it takes is a basic understanding of the circadian process, an objective tool like RISE to help keep you informed (re: where you’re at from moment to moment from a circadian standpoint), and, finally, a couple corresponding tweaks to your daily schedule. 

Riding the Circadian Rollercoaster 

Like it or not, your circadian rhythm plays a huge role in your daily functioning. In addition to dictating your sleep and wake times, hormones, mood, body temperature, and when you feel like eating, your circadian rhythm also regulates your energy levels throughout the day. 

The highs and lows follow the same universal sequence, day in and day out: 

Morning ramp up→morning peak→afternoon dip→evening peak→evening wind-down→sleep

Illustration of circadian rollercoaster

As you can see, you have two “peaks” each day--one in the morning and one in the late afternoon or early evening--with a period of low energy in between. (We went over how to best use your peaks in our last email--if you missed it, or need a refresher, head over here.) 

If you think your afternoon dip is just a glorified case of the yawns, you’re mistaken. Low energy hinders your focus and cognitive abilities, inhibits empathy, patience and emotional resilience, and makes you feel less capable and confident--unfortunately all the faculties a seller needs most to be at their best! 

So you’re not going to be in top form during your daily dip--that’s just a fact. But it’s not a lost cause. The first step to taking back your dips is to forgive yourself for having them in the first place--it’s natural, and largely out of your control (though keeping your sleep debt in check will help--more on this below!). The second step is to figure out what you can successfully tackle during your dip, and make the appropriate adjustments to your calendar. Don’t let low energy be an excuse to check out and get nothing done. 

Make Your Dips Count

We suggest planning ahead for your dips, with the intention of keeping the cognitive load light during these periods. Kicking less focus-intensive responsibilities to the afternoon will not only help you feel less frustrated and overwhelmed, but you’ll also be keeping your peaks free and clear for your most important work.  

→ RISE can help you plan ahead by predicting the timing and duration of that day’s dip. Make sure to check the app as soon as you wake up so you can arrange your to-do list accordingly!

To check today's dip, pull up your energy schedule by tapping the Energy tab. Your dip is highlighted in purple.
Once you've located today's dip on your energy schedule, tap the purple box for more information like time of dip relative to yesterday, duration and suggestions on how to make the most of this time.

Our daily dip recommendations: 

Think of your dip as a down shift. While on the clock, this is the perfect time to get things done that don’t require you to be at 100% capacity cognitively or emotionally. Passive or routine activities are ideal. We suggest you: 

  • Address distracting administrative duties--clean your desk or respond to low-stakes emails or calls, for example
  • Perform CRM updates or other data-entry tasks
  • Search LinkedIn for new leads and prospects--replenish that call list!  
  • Watch a helpful lecture or inspiring TED Talk
  • Continue your sales education through reading and research
  • Take a short nap (the benefits of napping during the workday are well documented--check out our quick how-to here!)

And while it may seem unfair, you don’t get a break from your dip even on your days off. Luckily, you can take the same tack on your free days. At home, focus on activities that don’t demand a lot of brainpower or high levels of concentration. We suggest you: 

  • Take on those nagging chores, errands, and around-the-house to-dos--getting these things out of the way now means you can spend your peaks doing things you enjoy! 
  • Exercise--a good way to burn through your afternoon slump and has the added bonus of leaving you feeling doubly great for your evening peak
  • Eat a leisurely lunch
  • Again, this is a great time to grab a nap
  • If napping isn't your thing, engage in another restorative activity like reading for pleasure, stretching, or meditation

Beware the Build-up of Sleep Debt

As mentioned above, in addition to smart scheduling, another thing you can do to maximize your dips is to minimize your sleep debt. The more sleep you owe yourself, the more you are going to feel your dip (and the less peak-y your peaks will be, to boot!). Keeping sleep debt low by prioritizing early bedtimes and practicing good sleep hygiene will mean shorter, less pronounced dips and wider windows for unrestrained productivity each day. 


Sleep better. Sell more.

Learn more about Rise for sales teams.

Thanks! We received your information. You'll hear from us shortly.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
About Rise
Rise is the only app that unlocks the real-world benefits of better sleep.

Instead of just promising a better night, we use 100 years of sleep science to help you pay down sleep debt and take advantage of your circadian rhythm to be your best.

Over the past decade, we've helped professional athletes, startups, and Fortune 500s improve their sleep to measurably win more in the real-world scenarios that matter most.

Rise Science is backed by True Ventures, Freestyle Capital, and High Alpha; investors behind category winners Fitbit, Peloton, and Salesforce Marketing Cloud.


View all
Try 7 days free

The power behind your next best day

RISE makes it easy to improve your sleep and daily energy to reach your potential

RISE app iconApp store icon