Conferences / Meetings

Why Your Audience May Snooze In The After Lunch Speaker Session

Experienced conference speakers will know that after that executive lunch you, the audience, may be a lot less attentive as you sit back and try to take in the presentation. In order to combat this, they will probably keep the mood light and upbeat, the pace active and the subject material refreshing. That's their job, but what can you do to help to stay alert and attentive. Read on to find out why you may suffer post lunch drowsiness (afternoon apathy syndrome) and how you can try to avoid it.

You are what you eat

With some notable exceptions, your post lunchtime drowsiness is entirely down to what you have just eaten. The background to your day and to your lifestyle is where these exceptions can contribute to the problem.

Before you have even arrived at the conference you will have set up your digestive system in three ways.

The first may have occurred over the last weeks, months and even years. If you are generally unfit, your digestive system is overworked and unbalanced. The demands that you place on your fuel supply are probably working harder than for a fit person because of the high rate of food to energy conversion that is needed to keep your unfit body going.?

The second is that a healthy decent sized breakfast will have set your digestive system up for the day. What comes at later fuel stops should be the top-up foods starting with a proportional lunch. If you skipped breakfast your system is going to be overloaded when you try to take in enough fuel to cover two meals.

The third is your level of hydration. If the body ideally needs between 2 and 3 litres of water per day as a minimum, then half of this amount should have been consumed by lunch time. If you have had only two cups of strong coffee you will be dehydrated by lunch time. Dehydration during or after lunch will cause you to feel drowsy.

Already sleep deprived.

So keep fit and healthy, eat a good breakfast and a drink a couple of large glasses of water. But there's one more preparation and that is sleep itself. If you did not get enough sleep the night before it is obvious that your mind and body will take any opportunity to catch up.

Right, we have set up our day, we can tick the boxes above, so why do we still feel drowsy after lunch?

As ever there is a combination of factors and we are in control of all of them and the most technical of these is the chemistry of how our body digests food. Our stomach and intestines work on the food by use of an increase in the blood supply to these organs in order to break down and process the nutrients, chemicals, fats, sugars etc., and to transport these elements to the right places.

Therefore, during the process of digestion, other parts of the body are a little short of blood supply. It therefore follows that the larger the lunch the more digestion is required and the more that the other organs are deprived, one of which is the brain. So whatever you eat don't eat too much.

Sugar in, sleep out.

Sugar gives you energy but it takes a lot of energy to process it. The pancreas produces insulin to convert the sugars in to energy, but the insulin also triggers one the body's amino acids called tryptophan which in itself is a natural sedative. But it gets worse. The tryptophan converts into serotonin which is found in both your abdomen and your brain. Serotonin is a neuro-transmitter that deals with things like moods, sleep, stress and depression. So too much sugar in your lunch will boost your serotonin and make you sleepy.

Good lunch foods

Avoid fast food as it will fill you up but with all the wrong foods, fats, emulsifiers, carbohydrates and sugar.

Pasta will also fill you up but, alongside bread and other flour and savoury dishes, will also take too much energy to digest.

The same goes for rice and potatoes. These are all high in carbohydrates and need some digesting.

So what are you left with? Low carbohydrate high protein food is best and a lot of these are unprocessed, naturally grown foods such as carrots, tomatoes, beans, celery and cabbage. Basically the ideal lunch consists of a lot of vegetables foods taken with water. Which means no coffee or alcohol either, oh and I almost forgot, when you have finished eating go for a walk. Gentle exercise after eating is ideal for healthy digestion.

I hope you were paying attention at the back!

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