Why do we feel so tired after iftar?
Feeling tired and lethargic after iftar is not unheard of. It's as if your body is switching off and you just want to sleep. Even hours after iftar, your body still feels the effects and stays in an inactive state.
The medical term for this condition is called "postprandial somnolence", more commonly known as food coma. It should also be noted that a food coma isn't harmful to the body but can be inconvenient and affect your productivity.
To understand how a food coma occurs, we must first know that our body is a system where many interconnected processes or chemical reactions are constantly taking place to keep the system running. When we overeat during iftar, it sets off a chain of reactions that leads to a food coma.
Because of limited conclusive scientific evidence about postprandial somnolence, there's no clear answer for exactly how it happens. Its effects can vary from person to person and also depends on different circumstances.
There are several theories as to why it happens. One such theory suggests that while eating, the body's parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) activity increases, and the activity of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) decreases. This shift in daily activity causes a person to be in a state of low energy and a desire to rest.
Larger the meal, the greater the shift. This theory explains why we feel more tired after having a larger meal.
There is another theory based on what type of food we consume. When foods with a high glycemic index are consumed, the carbohydrates in the food are more easily digested than in the case of low glycemic index foods. Hence, more glucose is available for the body to absorb.
To absorb higher levels of glucose, insulin levels increase. This increases the intake of a type of protein called tryptophan by the brain. In the brain, tryptophan is converted to serotonin which is then converted to melatonin. Increased brain serotonin and melatonin levels result in sleepiness.
Another theory is that due to increased workload on the digestive system (because of the heavy meals in iftar), more blood flow is directed towards the digestive system. This in return causes a decrease in blood flow to our brain, causing tiredness.
No exact way to deal with a food coma has been found as of yet. However, doing things like going out for a walk after iftar, eating in small portions or eating less, and avoiding carbs or protein-heavy meals can help you deal with food coma to some extent.
1. OUP (January 1, 2003). Effects of normal meals rich in carbohydrates or proteins on plasma tryptophan and tyrosine ratios.
2. Medical News Today (October 28, 2021). Food coma: What to know about postprandial somnolence.
3. Healthline (March 3, 2022). What Is a Food Coma? Here's What the Science Says.
Tamjidul Hoque loves talking about Football and watching anime. You can find him on twitter.com/TamjidulH24