Sunday, 20 December 2015

Christmas Science - The Afternoon Snooze

Why do all the adults in a house pass out after the Christmas dinner but the kids don’t?

I'm not a fan of boozing during the day, especially on an exciting day like Christmas when there is so much to do. So, the post lunch snooze is something I go out of my way to avoid, to the extent that in our house, the Christmas meal is in the evening. But what makes you dozy after a bit meal anyhow?

There are several reasons why you feel sleepy after eating the Christmas dinner. The first is that your body reacts to a full stomach by diverting blood to the digestive system and shutting down other systems (like your brain) to allow the food time to get digested.

Secondly there is some indication that the amino acid, tryptophan may be involved in signalling to the brain that it is time for a snooze. Protein and any meal rich in it, like a big turkey blow out, will provide the body with lots of tryptophan.

Finally, our natural circadian sleep cycle seems to have a low in the middle of the afternoon at about 2pm. All of these combine to make you sleepy after lunch. On top of that, on Christmas day much of the work and stress is over (except for the dish washer) and you naturally relax more and fancy a snooze.

Why kids stay awake is down to the continued increase of adrenalin and excitement caused by crass materialism and all that loot.

Oh yeah - and open last thing - buy my book!

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Science TV Presenter, live show performer, writer, strange prop builder and all round Science Bloke. All opinions expressed are mine alone. Not the BBC's, just mine.