According to the old wives' tale, nobody ever sees a dead donkey, and as George Carlin observed, "You never see a really big, tall, fat Chinese guy with red hair", either. To which I'd like to add: you never meet someone who describes themselves as an "afternoon person", do you?
The population divides into larks, night owls and people who are neither. The distinction often seems to have as much to do with self-image: it's close to sacrilegious to be a morning person if you're in a band, say, while hard-charging celebrity businesspeople seem obliged to tell interviewers that they wake at 4.30am.
Nobody, on the other hand, feels they come into their own about an hour after lunch. The "afternoon slump" enfolds us in its toxic mist of lethargy and irritation. It seems to be global; not long ago, sociologists analysed the "mood words" in 2.4million tweets and discovered that the Twitterverse gets crotchety in the afternoon in India, Europe, Africa, New Zealand, and North America. "I really dislike afternoons," said Kingsley Amis, who wrote best in the mornings and evenings. The only remedy, he felt, was "drinking more cups of tea until the bar opens at six".
Actually, that's far from the only remedy. Views differ on if the slump can be avoided entirely – ultimately, there may be no arguing with circadian rhythms – but the world of productivity books and blogs abounds. So whether you think of yourself as a morning or an evening person, perhaps it's time to rethink. And perhaps you should be doing that thinking at your drowsiest time of day.