Learn the reasons why you feel like dozing off after a big meal
Nothing feels better after a huge chow than a long snooze. Since we were infants, we are hardwired to sleep after we eat, but no one really knows why. In today’s active environment where you need to be functional and productive throughout the day, the post-eating slumber can be a disadvantage and can drastically affect how we do our day to day tasks.
What we know as food coma is actually called Postprandial Somnolence or the normal state of the body that lulls us into drowsiness following a meal. It’s expected for humans to feel groggy after eating due to a number of factors. Up to this day, we are still looking for answers to help us understand postprandial somnolence, but scientists have come up with convincing evidence that tells us why we experience postprandial somnolence in the first place.
Postprandial Somnolence during Thanksgiving
Postprandial Somnolence is more observed during Thanksgiving, where the average American consumes around 3500 in one meal. After eating the thanksgiving dinner, you can almost expect anyone to be a bit sleepy due to the food that they just ate. However, in this circumstance, the explanation is more direct – the turkey, which is commonly served during thanksgiving dinners, contain Tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin, which is then converted to serotonin – the chemical that invokes our sleepy state.
Postprandial Somnolence after eating large meals
In certain times when you just eat a heavy meal loaded with carbs and calories, you can expect yourself to get sleepy afterwards. After you eat, your body’s glucose level steeply rises to help your digestive system process the food. When your body focuses on digesting the food you just ate, your parasympathetic system goes into play and tells your body to slow down and rest.
Postprandial Somnolence also involves your brain cells, called orexin neurons, which are sensitive to your blood glucose levels. Orexin neurons release orexin, a protein that moderates the sense of wakefulness in the brain.
How to prevent Postprandial Somnolence
While there’s no known cure to combat postprandial somnolence, you can always do something to avoid it.
You can start by moderating the food you eat. Postprandial somnolence is triggered by huge amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and sugar in one meal. When you eat large portions of food, your body absorbs way too much nutrients, which prompts your body to conserve energy to help digest the food you’ve eaten.
You can also choose the right time to eat your meals. When you eat about 2 hours before bedtime, your blood sugar levels would rise and drop while you sleep, which would prevent you from enjoying true restfulness from a deeper sleep cycle. This would make you more susceptible to the effects of postprandial somnolence during the day, because your body needs time to recover due to the restlessness you encountered while you sleep, coupled with the effects of postprandial somnolence.