why do we experience “food comas”??


Why do we get tired, or sometimes even fall asleep, after eating a large amount of food??

In: Biology

As the sugar enters your blood stream your body releases chemicals to start moving that sugar into your cells and out of your blood. This results in a little too much sugar being taken out of the blood and your blood sugar will dip, the amount depends on how much sugar is entering and how many chemicals your body made to move them. This will make your body feel tired. Also, when chemicals like insulin are released in to your body to facilitate this process, they will enter your brain through the Blood brain barrier and there, the chemicals act differently and the insulin will signal to your brain to begin the rest and digest mode basically. The hormones that signal to break the sugar down in the body will have incredibly diverse functions once they make it into the brain and those chemicals in the brain will help regulate feeding/sleeping/memory behaviors.

Your nervous system is split into two parts: the parasympathetic and the sympathetic.

The sympathetic nervous system is what activates when we are encountering a stressful situation. Think of this as the “bear chasing me” side of the nervous system. When in this state, our digestions slows or stops, our heart rate rises, and we often become anxious.

The parasympathetic, on the other hand, is the rest and digest. After you eat, your body naturally enters a parasympathetic state because it is focused on digesting the food you consumed. Blood flow is redirected from the limbs and brain to the stomach.

However, this effect is compounded based on what it is you’ve eaten. A high carbohydrate meal will cause a subsequent spike in insulin, which causes a string of hormones and neurotransmitters to be released. One of these is tryptamine, which is the building block for melatonin, the sleep hormone.

It’s not actually the turkey that makes you sleepy after Thanksgiving, but more likely the mashed potatoes for this reason.

Your body needs to breakdown and digest food after eating.

This uses up energy.

Athletes will carb load in the days before a performance but not the day of a performance for this very reason.