Returning to work in the afternoon, you may wonder: why am I so sleepy after lunch? You may be wondering if this is because of what you ate for lunch or if something else is to blame.
Well, this could be due to a natural drop in the circadian rhythm alarm. This article explains some theories about evening sleepiness and offers some ideas on how to stay awake in the afternoon.
A little drowsiness in the afternoon is normal. However, since drowsiness occurs immediately after eating, some people mistakenly think that it is related to digestion .
In particular, there is a misconception about how blood flow from the brain to the stomach during digestion can cause drowsiness. While this sounds plausible, it doesn't make a lot of sense.
If that's the case, you would expect to feel the same drowsiness after a large breakfast or after dinner. However, the truth is that this drowsiness is not related to the digestive process.
Elements in food
There are certain elements in food that can cause drowsiness. However, the amounts are usually small and have little effect on a person's ability to remain alert. Some substances in food that are considered sleep inducers include:
- Melatonin : Some foods contain tiny levels of the hormone melatonin. Although melatonin plays an important role in determining your sleep schedule, low levels in food are unlikely to significantly affect sleepiness.
- Tryptophan : Several other foods can cause drowsiness, especially turkey and foods that contain tryptophan. The body converts tryptophan to serotonin and then melatonin. As noted above, this can increase drowsiness. However, the effects are likely to be modest.
- Alcohol : Also, drinking alcohol can make you sleepy. This is because it enhances the action of adenosine . However, in most cases, this is not what makes you sleepy after dinner.
Sleep and circadian rhythm
Evening sleepiness is often more related to the natural timing of increased sleep patterns than to the foods you eat. This is facilitated by two phenomena. They include:
- Sleep cravings : Sleep cravings are associated with the gradual build-up in the brain of a chemical called adenosine. This chemical peaks just before bed, but is also higher in the afternoon than in the morning. Therefore, the longer a person is awake, the more adenosine accumulates, increasing the desire to sleep.
- Circadian rhythm : The second process that indirectly affects sleepiness is the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm works like a clock that controls the periods of wakefulness and sleep. Increase throughout the day to keep you awake and counteract rising adenosine levels.
In the early afternoon, there is a decrease in this pattern. This pause usually occurs seven to nine hours after waking up. When the warning signal weakens, underlying drowsiness appears and you feel sleepy.
Most people feel drowsy naturally between 1:00 p.m. M. And 3:00 p.m. M.
Interestingly, night owls (who can naturally fall asleep and wake up later) often have a delay in the calm of the day. As a result, they may only feel sleepy after a few hours.
Relieve evening drowsiness
Here are some things you can try to counter evening drowsiness :
- Sleep more at night
- Get enough daylight
- Exercise regularly
- Caffeine in moderation
- Sleep 10 to 20 minutes
Each can lower adenosine levels, which contributes to drowsiness.
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Fortunately, if you survive, this period will pass. Then when the circadian rhythm picks up again, you will find that after a few hours you will feel more alert again. This natural pattern usually occurs even without a cup of coffee or a nap.