You’ve just enjoyed a tasty burger for lunch and are back at your desk slugging away. Five minutes in and you’re overwhelmed with sleepiness, so much so that the space under your desk is looking pretty damn comfy right about now.
“Feeling a little tired after eating a meal is perfectly normal,” Robbie Clark, dietitian and sports nutritionist, told The Huffington Post Australia. “There are a few reasons why we experience the post-lunch slump, but the main reason is due to the digestive process.”
“Our body requires energy to function and survive. We get this energy from our food, which is broken down through the digestive process and converted into fuel, or glucose, and then macronutrients provide calories (or energy) to our bodies. Our digestive system triggers all kinds of responses within our body,” Clark explained.
Another reason we may feel sleepy after lunch, or after eating in general, is due to the amount of insulin produced after certain meals, which can trigger our ‘happy’ and ‘sleep’ hormones.
“Excessive secretion of insulin causes the essential amino acid tryptophan to move into the brain. Once in the brain, it leads to increased production of serotonin and melatonin, which are two neurotransmitters that have a calming effect and help regulate sleep. Interestingly, around 90 percent of the body’s serotonin is found in the gut, where it regulates intestinal movements.”
Accredited practising dietitian Jemma O’Hanlon agrees, saying the amount of carbohydrates we eat at lunch can affect how sleepy we feel afterward.
“Carbohydrate containing foods such as bread, pasta, rice and potatoes boost the production of a neurotransmitter known as serotonin, which can boost our mood but also make us feel content and possibly sleepy,” O’Hanlon told HuffPost Australia.