With Christmas coming up and Thanksgiving having just passed, I can honestly say one of my favorite parts is the food. Right before Thanksgiving break all I could think about was all of the food I was going to get to eat at home, and I couldn’t wait. So when it finally came time for dinner on Thanksgiving Day, I stuffed myself. I always do. But there is one thing I have always noticed after eating a huge meal on Thanksgiving—I always get extremely tired afterwards. Why is this? Does this happen to everyone? I know I am not always tired after eating, so I decided to look into it and have my own questions answered.
Here, the null hypothesis would be that food does not have any impact on how tired we are. The two do not have any correlation. The alternative hypothesis would be that food does, in fact, make us tired.
According to Body and Soul, feeling extremely tired after eating a meal could be related to the types of foods we are consuming. Processed foods that contain high levels of sugar and refined carbohydrates are the types of foods that are more likely to make us tired and want to take a nap. Apparently, eating these types of foods causes a rise in blood sugar levels, followed by a drop, which results in low energy levels—hence why we might feel tired.
The source mentions that an excessive discharge of insulin is the body’s way of trying to balance blood sugar levels. This excessive discharge of insulin causes tryptophan, an amino acid, to move into the brain. The discharge is then absorbed into serotonin and melatonin. By definition according to medicine.net serotonin is a compound that is present in blood platelets and serum. It constricts the blood vessels and acts as a neurotransmitter. Melatonin is a hormone and is produced by the pineal gland. Both melatonin and serotonin have a calming effect and help to regulate sleep. So, the tryptophan that is included in certain foods is the thing that is probably causing us to feel sleepy, according to the sleep foundation. Foods that are high in carbohydrates make tryptophan more available to the brain, which is why foods loaded with carbohydrates can make us feel tired.
After reading up on this topic, I am not surprised that certain foods can, in fact, make us feel tired, which confirms the alternative hypothesis. A possible third variable for feeling tired after eating simply might be because we don’t get enough sleep. It might not always be because of the foods we are consuming, but rather because we aren’t sleeping enough. And after doing a bit more research, according to scientific american, I found that turkey does, in fact, contain tryptophan, which is probably why a lot of people feel tired after a Thanksgiving meal! That sure answers my question!