Afternoon Tiredness

Eating a high-refined-carbohydrate lunch can make you tired in the afternoon, and the best way to make yourself more alert is to take a nap.

High-refined-carbohydrate meals make you much sleepier than high-protein meals, and they also impair your ability to learn and reason. Nerve cells send messages to each other by chemicals called neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, that makes you drowsy. The brain makes serotonin from a protein building block called tryptophan. When you eat a high-refined-carbohydrate meal, the blood sugar levels rise to cause the pancreas to release insulin. That drives tryptophan into the brain, causing it to make more serotonin and you to feel tired. Eating pasta, bakery products, fruits, potatoes, and sugar added foods for lunch can make you tired in the afternoon. The most effective way to revive yourself once this happens is to take a short nap.

1) Kolata. Science 218:1209-1210, 17 Dec. 1982. 2) J of Psychiatric Research. Research Strategies for Assessing the Bahavioral Effects of Food and Nutrients. Papers were presented at a conference at M.I.T. Nov. 9, 1982. Richard Wurtman, Ernest Hartmann (Tufts), Bonnie Spring (Harvard), Harris Lieberman, Alan Glelenberg, Dorothy Stewart.

Checked 4/4/12

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