• Tempted to doze off at your desk by 3pm? Up to 45% of people report feeling tired in the afternoon.
  • While it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause, afternoon tiredness may be caused by poor quality sleep, stress, poor nutrition, or a vitamin deficiency, to name a few.
  • To combat afternoon fatigue, consider taking a midday nap if possible, opt for a lighter lunch, or practice a  breathwork exercise using the Oura Explore tab.

Catching yourself yawning after lunch? You’re not alone. Up to 45 percent of people report feeling tired, especially in the afternoon. This post-lunch dip in energy levels is scientifically known as your postprandial dip, and it’s driven by your circadian rhythm.

Feeling always tired can impact your mood, productivity, and decision-making. Being able to identify what’s at the root of your tiredness can help you adjust your daily habits and sleep routine to feel energized throughout the day.

Why Am I Tired All The Time?

It can be hard to pinpoint what causes your afternoon energy dip. Using an Oura Ring can help you monitor patterns between your daily habits and how you feel. Each morning you’ll get a Sleep Score and Readiness Score, which can give you an insight into how your body is responding to your choices. When your Sleep or Readiness Score is low, you might be more likely to feel tired in the afternoon.

Here are some likely culprits of daytime tiredness: 

Poor quality sleep

What was the quality of your sleep like last night? Without the right data, it’s difficult to know. You may have remembered waking up a couple of times because your dog barked, but you don’t know how long it took you to fall asleep, or how much deep sleep you got.

Multiple factors contribute to your Oura Sleep Score and your overall sleep quality, ranging from how quickly it took you to fall asleep, and how many times you tossed and turned during the night.

This helps you gauge how well you slept – remember, it’s not all about the duration!

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There are many possible causes of low-quality sleep, including:

  • A hot bedroom
  • Noise
  • A heavy meal before bed
  • Light exposure
  • Caffeine or alcohol (we’ll come to this!)

READ MORE: 6 Surprising Bad Sleeping Habits & How to Break Them (for Good)

Feeling stressed

Stress interferes with your sleep, but it can also affect your adrenals, causing midday tiredness.

Research by the American Psychological Association found that people with high levels of stress sleep about an hour less than those with lower stress levels. Even when you’re getting enough sleep, stress decreases the quality of your sleep. 

Moreover, stress puts your body under strain. When the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (the body’s stress response system) is constantly activated, it can lead to dysfunction. Your heart works harder, and your immune function is suppressed. That’s why you’re more likely to get sick during periods of stress. The result is a feeling of tiredness that persists even if you’ve slept enough.

READ MORE: How Stress Affects Your Sleep

Poor nutrition

There are various ways in which your diet can affect your energy levels. If you’re constantly waking up tired or experiencing midday fatigue, it might be time to evaluate your diet.

A diet high in processed foods and a lack of nutrients can also lead to inflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction. Inflammation reduces cellular energy availability, leading to an increase in energy demands. When you can’t meet that, you’ll feel tired.

Eating sugar can also impact energy levels. When you eat sugary foods, your blood sugar spikes. Once insulin is released, your blood sugar comes crashing down. This sudden dip in energy can make you feel tired. Plus, sugar inhibits the production of orexin, a neuron that stimulates wakefulness. 

Vitamin deficiency

A diet low in nutrients can lead to a nutrient deficiency, which impacts sleep and increases your risk of many sleep disorders.

Vitamin D deficiency is linked to shorter sleep duration, waking up during the night, and insomnia.

Low iron levels is a common cause of tiredness due to iron’s role in hemoglobin production. When your body doesn’t have enough iron, hemoglobin production decreases, which is a condition known as anemia. 

Hemoglobin plays a critical role in the transportation of oxygen from your lungs to your tissues. When your tissues aren’t sufficiently oxygenated, it’s going to deprive them of the nutrients they need to produce energy. 

Substance use

Caffeine, alcohol, and cannabis all affect sleep quality and can leave you feeling tired – even if you’ve slept 10 hours straight! According to aggregate Oura member data, there’s a fairly consistent negative impact of alcohol on deep sleep, the most rejuvenating stage of sleep. The average decrease in deep sleep is 6.9% on nights when members tag alcohol. Alcohol also increases restlessness and sleep efficiency.

READ MORE: How Alcohol Impacts Your Sleep

Caffeine use can also impact your ability to feel refreshed in the morning. Not only does caffeine impact sleep quality, it can also lead to dependency. When you’re dependent on your morning coffee, your brain gets used to a certain level of caffeine in the system, keeping adenosine (a neurotransmitter that makes you feel sleepy) at bay.

When the caffeine finally gets cleared from your bloodstream overnight, you’ll wake up in the morning being hit with the adenosine – and more tired than ever.

Finally, other substances like cannabis can also make you feel sleepy in the morning. While it may make you fall asleep easier, it can decrease REM sleep, the sleep stage that helps you consolidate memories and process emotions from the day. 

Alarm clock causing sleep inertia

Many people use an alarm clock to wake up in the morning. Unfortunately, your alarm clock isn’t synced up with what stage of sleep you’re in. As a result, it can wake you up in the middle of a deep sleep stage, causing sleep inertia. 

Sleep inertia is a normal physiological response to waking up from deep sleep, characterized by feeling groggy and tired, regardless of how much sleep you’ve had. 

It’s believed to be a protective mechanism. During deep sleep or REM sleep, your brain is in a state of reduced activity. Just because you wake up suddenly doesn’t necessarily mean your brain does. For some, this feeling can last up to an hour.

Medical conditions

Thyroid disease, heart disease, and depression are conditions that can cause persistent tiredness, regardless of how much sleep you’re getting. Speak with your medical provider if you are experiencing consistent unexplained tiredness.

Hormonal changes

Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers – when they’re in flux or imbalanced, you can experience fatigue. That’s why women often report feeling tired leading up to and during their period. Similarly, women who are pregnant or lactating may also experience tiredness and require more sleep. 


As with all good things, sleep duration reaches a point of diminishing returns. The sweet spot of sleep for most people is seven to nine hours. If you’re consistently sleeping more than this (and don’t have one of the conditions or situations listed above) you may be oversleeping.

Oversleeping ironically causes daytime sleepiness and fatigue, which can make you feel like you need to sleep longer at night, but this isn’t the best idea.

READ MORE: Can You Sleep Too Much?

Intense physical activity

People with active jobs or lifestyles can feel tired during the day. Intense exercise, for instance, can lead to fatigue due to the depletion of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), glycogen, and neurotransmitters that are released during your workout. This is why you might feel like you need to take a nap after a tough workout! 

How To Stop Feeling Tired 

Tired of feeling tired? Follow these tips to help you overcome your mid-afternoon slump.

  • Focus on your nighttime routine: Your tiredness will persist if you’re sleeping poorly. By focusing on winding down in the evening and creating a sleep conducive environment, you can improve the quality and duration of your sleep to improve your daytime energy levels.
  • Use caffeine intentionally: Relying on caffeine too heavily causes you to build a tolerance to it. Reducing your overall caffeine habit and only relying on it when you need a boost will experience more noticeable effects.
  • Make time for exercise recovery: Doing back-to-back intense workouts can be counterproductive, leaving you feeling tired for the rest of your day’s activities. Taking recovery days between tough workouts can help prevent the energy dip (and help your performance!). Here’s how sleep helps muscle recovery.
  • Eat a light lunch and save the carbs for later: Big meals use up lots of energy in digestion, which can make you tired. Instead, opt for a light lunch and snacks either side, to lessen the metabolic load. Carbohydrate-heavy meals also cause tiredness because they increase levels of tryptophan, which increases the production of serotonin and melatonin, making you sleepy.
  • Take a midday nap: An afternoon nap might be a luxury if you’re at work or looking after children, but if you can, it’ll help. Check out the benefits of a midday nap here.
  • Manage stress using meditation and breathwork: Taking 5-25 minutes out of your day to practice some relaxation techniques like meditation or breathwork can combat stress and brain fog and give you a boost of natural energy. Using the Explore tab on your Oura App, you can follow guided meditations and breathwork practices — while your heart rate and HRV are monitored to give you real-time feedback on how your body is responding.
  • Take a walk or light jog outside: How much time are you spending inside? While it’s not always possible to get outside, if you can, it’ll help reduce tiredness. Not only are you getting daylight in your eyes to help reset your circadian rhythm, doing aerobic exercise increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain to help you wake up.

READ MORE: Tired but Can’t Sleep? Here Are 5 Possible Reasons Why

Fight Fatigue, Feel Better

No one likes being tired. It prevents you from feeling and performing at your peak. To combat daytime fatigue, focus on sleep, scale back the stress, and step up your diet.

Using an Oura Ring while you sleep gives you actionable insights into how you’re sleeping and recovering. You can use this data to inform your habits to finally fight fatigue and feel energized.

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