Scientists Explain Why We Feel Sleepy After A Meal

Posted: Nov 26 2016, 3:32am CST | by , Updated: Nov 26 2016, 3:35am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Scientists Explain Why We Feel Sleepy after a Meal
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Higher protein and salt content in diet as well as the amount of food consumed may be to blame post-meal sleep or food coma

Feeling sleepy after a lunch or meal is completely normal and the condition is commonly known as food coma.

Until recently, there have been very few studies explaining the phenomenon, so the reason for the food coma largely remains undetected. However, researchers from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), Florida Atlantic University and Bowling Green State University believe they have an explanation for this.

Researchers picked common fruit flies to study the immediate effects the food can have on sleep. Fruit fly or Drosophila is an idea model to understand this tiredness after eating because of their well-known sleep-metabolism interactions.

Researchers created a plastic chamber or a system called Activity Recording CAFE (ARC) to observe flies activity both before and after eating. It came as no surprise to the researchers that flies took a nap for a short period before returning to their normal state. Their responses varied depending on the food intake. The more the flies ate, the more they slept. Further studies showed that certain types of food can also promote post-meal sleep. Higher protein and salt content in diet promoted sleep while sugar had not effect on sleep.

“By turning on and off neurons in the fly brain, we identified several circuits dedicated to controlling postprandial sleep,” said co-author Keith Murphy from TSRI. “Some of these circuits responded to protein and others to circadian rhythm, demonstrating that the behavior has a diversity of inputs.”

Since fruit flies share a DNA similar to humans, the outcomes have implications for the aspects of sleep in humans too.

“Using an animal model, we’ve learned there is something to the food coma effect, and we can now start to study the direct relationship between food and sleep in earnest,” said lead researchers of the study Professor William. “This behavior seems conserved across species, so it must be valuable to animals for some reason.”

 

 

 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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