How What You Eat Can Affect Post-Meal Sleepiness – Study Reveals

A study published in the journal eLife, has investigated how what we eat can affect post-meal sleepiness and nap length.

Researchers from the Scripps Research Institute in the USA tested the consumption of salt, sugar and protein in fruit flies — insects used for their genetic similarities with humans — and found that meals with higher levels of protein and salt could promote sleep and lead to longer naps.

They identified a certain type of neuron — called leucokinin neurons — that play a role in the post-meal sleep mechanism. “A subset of leucokinin receptor (Lkr) neurons was necessary to initiate post-meal sleep in the presence of protein specifically,” explains first author Keith Murphy.

“While we expected that flies defective in protein sensing would experience post-meal sleep in a similar way to those fed only sucrose, we found instead that they had a waking response.”

“Our analysis suggests that ingested protein promotes both sleep and wakefulness, and that the wakefulness is counterbalanced by Lkr neuronal activity. “

The research provides a starting point for future work investigating the genes and circuits that link meal size, protein and salt to post-meal sleep.

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