Most of us feel sleepy in the afternoon. Why cant work fit round that? | Andre Spicer

Now a third of Britons are sleep-deprived, creation should be more flexible, says Andr Spicer, professor of organisational behaviour at the Cass Business School

In the early afternoon, I often catch myself listlessly staring into the computer screen. I have things to do, but I can’t concentrate. I try banking the same sentence five times and delete it six. During one of these afternoon torpors, I came upon a word: acedia. It seemed to perfectly define my mid-afternoon weariness. I detected this initially Greek word was widely used by medieval Christian friars to describe a sense of indolence, a climate of lethargy, a feeling of being completely unconcerned about their duties and purpose in the nations of the world. Christian mystics who are in the Egyptian deserts during the course of its 3rd century AD often complained about being haunted by the “noon-day demon”.

One monk of the time described how the noon-day demon would” originate the daylight emerge sluggish and immobile” and start” monks to persistently look at the window and impels him to gaze at the sunbathe “. This cruel demon” mails him hatred against the place, against life itself, and against the work of his hands, and builds him think he has lost the adoration among his friends and there is none to comfort him “.

To escape my own noon-day demon, I sustained my study. I detected acedia spread from the Desert Fathers into the monasteries of medieval Europe, where it was seen as a sin that friars needed to overcome.

Some think that acedia faded with medieval Christian monastic life and was replaced with more recognisable calls such as boredom. However, others ponder acedia continued to live on. For example, Aldous Huxley argued that acedia had only sharpened with the onset of modern life. More recently, the psychoanalyst Josh Cohen marks how a certain torpor or aimlessness he find in some of his patients seems to be a normal response to our culture of over-achievement and overworking.

The question about how to address this malaise has piqued the interest of sleep researchers, who have focused on our body’s circadian rhythms. They have found that during the early afternoon, people’s internal body clock tends to cycle downwards. Our internal temperature changes and we start feeling more sleepy. The downward tendency of our internal pattern in the middle of the day is also linked with a dulling in the part of brain that is linked with reward-seeking activities. This field- the left putamen- tends to be more active at 10 am and 7pm rather than 2pm.

The midday lethargy is attained much worse by chronic shortfall of sleep among substantial part of the population. Harmonizing to one sketch, one-third of Britons say they get five to six hours sleep a night. Another UK survey found that 30% of respondents have been seriously sleep robbed. Not having enough sleep can make it harder to make decisions- particularly in novel or high-pressure status. It likewise compile us worse at performing projects- particularly those involving an emotional component. A shortcoming of sleep reaches us less able to recognise sensations such as anger and pleasure in others. At the same time, the committee is also meets us more likely to feel stressed, anxious and angry.

Behaviourial scientists advocate a range of lifestyle hackers to deal with the noon-day demon. They include physical campaign, reflection, listening to upbeat music and avoiding the lure of an afternoon sugar and caffeine touched.

Others think a few life-hacks aren’t enough, and instead we need to change the way work is designed. Workplaces could support more scope for flexible working to accommodate people’s natural rhythms or firms could feed” strategic napping “. They is also able to help employees cope their boundaries between work and life.

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Changing attires and adjusting some aspects of the working day might help to deal with fleeting sorrows of listlessness among employees. But these involvements are unlikely to address the deeper, more grinding ability of emptiness some employees feel at work. Tackling this involves asking questions about how to fix our run more meaningful. That doesn’t mean pep talk from top administration about how you are helping to save the world- those kind of overblown motivational lectures are often completely ineffective. What might cut through is creating a sense of” neighbourhood sense” around your work. That can be achieved by having a sense of who benefits from whatever it is you do, fully recognized for doing a good job, having an answer to why your work is important and appear connected to your colleagues.

Feeling like our work is more meaningful is important, but it might not be sufficient. There’s a strong case that when we are struck with acedia or simply mid-afternoon sleepiness, we should just give in, pack up, go home and start again fresh tomorrow. Stopping work in the early afternoon has not been able to such a bad thing- after all, there is an increasingly strong case that a shorter working day decluttered with distractions is likely to make us most productive.

Finally, era workers like me should remember their life is easy when compared to those who work at night. People who often do some of the most significant places- such as nurses and doctors- have shift structures that mean they get much less sleep and sustain more ill health than era works. Battling the noon-day demon is nothing when are comparable to the midnight spectre that recurs some people.

* Andre Spicer is professor of organisational behaviour at the Cass Business School at City, University of London

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