Dozing off after a solid meal is pretty normal, but there’s still a load of science behind it that you may not yet understand.
This usually happens after particularly big meals, especially if you’ve been fasting to enjoy them more at the time, a feat that is fairly common during the holiday season when Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around.
Despite it having a medical name, there’s little to point out exactly why postprandial somnolence actually happens, although several theories do exist, and this article will try to educate you more on the matter.
As innocent as it may sound, a food coma can be pretty dangerous, and you’ll want to avoid them whenever you can, just for your own safety.
What is the food coma?!
Aside from its medical name and the name we’ve embraced over the years, a food coma is also called a post-lunch dip, as it describes the effects people often feel after a heavier lunch in the afternoon.
Some people feel sleepy and lethargic whereas others have a hard time maintaining concentration, which is all perfectly normal for this phenomenon.
Many people tend to misunderstand the term, likely due to the word “coma“ being involved, but a food coma doesn’t involve a rapid and lengthy form of loss of consciousness, and is far more harmless than what’s usually associated with the word.
What causes it to happen
Even though they’re a common occurrence in people of all ages, food comas haven’t exactly been studied to the point where we understand every intricacy about them, and they remain a medical enigma to this day.
There have been dozens of theories as to why food comas happen, and some were proven while others were debunked with ease, which doesn’t remove the fact that an embarrassingly low amount of research was done on them.
Originally, people thought they were caused by a surge of blood flow to your gut as it struggles to digest food, inadvertently causing a lack of blood being delivered to the brain.
It didn’t take long for this theory to be challenged though, and experts in the field have proven that the body has no issue maintaining a healthy flow of blood to the brain at all times, including dozens of stressful situations.
High carb content in food may be the culprit
Over the years, researchers interested in this subject matter have proposed that the #1 leading cause for food comas may be foods that have a high carb and protein content.
This does make sense, seeing as it’d take the stomach that much more energy to digest it, among other things that point at it.
One other thing is the fact that high-carb meals have an impact on your body’s serotonin levels, which may affect how and how long you sleep.
Protein-rich foods have a similar effect, as they also contain high amounts of tryptophan, an amino acid that allows your body to absorb a higher amount of serotonin, once again making it easier for you to fall asleep.
Even though there are bundles of evidence pointing at it, there’s yet to be a solid theory unifying them all, and experts are having a hard time figuring out whether foods may actually be fully responsible for food comas.
How to deal with it
The number one thing you’ll read about facing a food coma is that you should consume copious amounts of water to offset it.
If you’re already feeling bloated after a large meal, chances are the feeling will persist until the food completely leaves your body, and that can become a problem very fast.
Some extra water in your system may be able to help you flush down all that extra salt you consumed with your meal, allowing you to get your pressure back down and doze off like normal.
However, even if you’ve suffered through the night due to overeating, you shouldn’t be too keen to skip breakfast, even more so if you’re living with diabetes.
Your sugar levels may plummet drastically, which will ultimately lead to even more tiredness and cravings for sweet food.
A simple, green breakfast smoothie may be all you need to get your sleep schedule back in order, possibly giving you a small energy boost right off the bat as you wake up.
Stay away from alcohol
Even though the majority of us like to party as much as the next guy, alcohol may be the root cause of all your problems.
Well, maybe not all of them, but cutting it from your diet may help you feel more energetic and hydrated throughout the day.
If you’re stuck at a party and you’re stuffing your face full of food while downing one glass after another, you’re practically waiting for disaster to strike.
Instead, you could look around and soak in the atmosphere of the party, all the while enjoying some non-alcoholic beverage or even a tall glass of water.
If you really can’t skip out on some drinks with your friends, you may want to employ a morning yoga strategy to stretch out and have your body “reset“ from the night before.