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Coping with 'niggaritis'

Published:Wednesday | July 16, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Commonly called 'niggaritis' by Jamaicans, 'post-lunch dip' or 'post-lunch drowsiness' is actually quite common. However, it affects some persons more adversely than others. It is a universal phenomenon, which represents a collision of biology and economics. In fact, it is entirely natural for humans to want to go to sleep about seven hours after they have awakened, as the internal rhythms of the body call out for rest. This is what is happening in the body when it craves rest after lunch.

A study of drivers found that more car accidents occur during the afternoon dip than at noon or 7 p.m.

However, the type of food you eat for lunch, along with other factors, will determine how greatly this affects you.

Here are a few tips that can help those who suffer from extreme 'post-lunch drowsiness':

GET A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP: Sleep is vital for good functioning. If you're not getting a good night's sleep, it makes sense that you will start running out of energy by mid-afternoon. So get at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

EAT A GOOD BREAKFAST: Having a good breakfast sets the energy standard for the rest of the day. A healthy breakfast helps you to not feel overly hungry by lunch, so you can make wise food choices, and it increases your physical and mental alertness and well-being throughout the rest of the day. A healthy breakfast also reduces the stress hormone, cortisol.

EAT LOW-CARB, HIGH-PROTEIN FOR LUNCH: Post-lunch drowsiness from a body flooded with insulin to process a carb-rich lunch can be prevented if you carefully choose what you eat for lunch. A low-carb, high-protein lunch will help you feel more awake. For those who are adversely affected by 'post-lunch drowsiness', at lunch time avoid potatoes, white rice, pasta and any sugary food or drink. These cause a rapid rise in your insulin levels, which also increases the serotonin levels in your brain. Serotonin is associated with sleep, and high levels will make you very drowsy.

For lunch, choose vegetables, a serving of complex carbs (like yam and banana), along with a healthy serving of protein (meat). The protein will satisfy your hunger, fill you up faster and give you the necessary energy.

Have non-sugar beverage; water is a preferred choice.

EAT LESS: A large meal takes more effort to digest. As a result, your blood is diverted to digest the meal properly, resulting in less oxygen and nutrition reaching your brain during the digestion process. So don't wolf down a large lunch. That's why it's best to have a healthy breakfast.

EXERCISE: After eating, it is a good idea to do some light exercises. Walk, do some stretches, skip the elevator and seek out the stairs - whatever activities you can for about 10 minutes. Light exercises after eating will help get your blood flowing and will help to ward off fatigue.

TAKE A POWER NAP: If you have a severe case of post-lunch drowsiness, then the best thing you can do is schedule your lunch when you can take a 20-minute power nap after eating. It will work out much better for you than fighting it. By taking a power nap, you will actually improve your quality of work and reduce the risk of any accidents or mishaps because of fatigue. Giving into the sleep will prevent you from feeling drowsy for the rest of the day and will improve your productivity.

KEEP A FOOD/MOOD DIARY: It is important to know what foods make you sleepy. Write down when you feel drowsy, what you ate, did you exercise, how well did you sleep the night before, and anything else that may be important.

Do this for a week, then analyse and look for a pattern. This will help you to avoid any habits that cause post-lunch drowsiness.