What’s the Cause? Food Coma Makes You Sleepy after Eating.

Have you ever felt very weak and sleepy after a big meal because you were so full? This condition is called a food coma ( food coma ). How does the food coma effect occur? Check out the following explanation.

What is a food coma?

A food coma is a tired and low-energy condition that occurs after eating a large meal.

The food coma has the scientific name postprandial somnolence, which means drowsiness after eating, especially after lunch.

According to research in the journal Elife (2016), food coma is closely related to the digestion process of protein, salt, and the amount of food you consume.

Some types of food that you eat can release certain hormones that may make you feel tired and sleepy.

Signs you are experiencing a food coma include:

1. sleepy,
2. physical fatigue,
3. not excited, and
4. difficulty focusing or concentrating.

Even so, experiencing a food coma does not mean you lose consciousness as a coma occurs due to a brain injury.

Causes of food coma

There are not many adequate studies that review food coma in more depth.

Even so, there are a number of causes that are believed to trigger a food coma as explained below.

1. Type of food

If you often feel sleepy after eating, try to look at your plate again.

Eating lots of high-carbohydrate foods can increase serotonin production. The work of this hormone is related to the appearance of pleasure, sleepiness, and fullness after eating.

According to research in the British Journal of Nutrition (2011), carbohydrate-rich food sources can help the body absorb tryptophan, which is an amino acid that the body uses to make serotonin.

A number of foods that are rich in carbohydrates and contain tryptophan, namely:

1. processed food,
2. chicken,
3. fish,
4. know,
5. nuts,
6. milk,
7. egg whites, and
8. grain.

Even so, the relationship between carbohydrates and serotonin is actually very complex.

Further research is needed to determine the exact cause of sleepiness after eating.

2. Meal portions

Complaints of food coma are also usually experienced after a large or heavy meal.

In a study in the British Journal of Nutrition (2020), participants who ate pizza excessively admitted that they had no energy and were easily tired, sleepy, and lethargic within 4 hours after a full meal.

Meanwhile, participants who ate only until they were full did not experience this side effect.

The more servings of food, the longer it takes for the digestive system to absorb all the nutrients.

This condition will cause blood sugar to tend to rise which results in a decrease in energy shortly after eating.

Not only that, a study in the journal Nutrition (2019) involving 52 drivers showed a link between eating portions and the risk of driving problems.

This study shows that eating a heavy and excessive lunch will increase the risk of traffic violations due to drowsiness.

All of these studies suggest that large meals may be a trigger for postprandial somnolence.

3. Meal time

In addition to the portion and type of food you eat, food coma can be caused by eating at inappropriate times.

Lunch with large portions often makes people feel sleepy because it is related to the natural sleep cycle.

Your body has a 24-hour “sleep and wake cycle” known as a circadian rhythm or body clock.

During the day, the body actually enters a sleepy phase with low sleepiness.

Well, overeating during the day can increase the intensity of sleepiness, so you tend to feel more tired and want to sleep soon.

This phenomenon is also associated with accidents that often occur during the day due to sleepy drivers.

According to a study in the journal Plos One (2015), accidents caused by sleepy drivers occur not only between 02.00 – 06.00 in the morning but also between 14.00 – 16.00 in the afternoon.

4. Blood circulation

Blood circulation in your body is also believed to be one of the causes of food coma.

After a heavy meal, there is an increase in blood flow to the intestines, causing a decrease in blood flow to the brain.

However, this condition tends to be experienced by those who skip breakfast and consume more food at lunch after enduring hunger from the morning.

This was proven by a study in the journal Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging (2019), in which test participants who skipped breakfast experienced severe sleepiness after lunch.

After eating, the body needs to focus on digesting food, so that more blood flows to the digestive system and away from the brain.

This change in circulation can trigger dizziness or drowsiness for at least 2 hours after you eat.

5. Shape adaptation of the body

Interestingly, food coma turns out to be a natural thing that happens as a form of body adaptation.

Feeling sleepy after eating is believed to be an instinctive human trait.

When hungry, the alert signal will turn on and the body will wake up to get food.

Conversely, being full is a signal to lower alertness so that the body becomes more relaxed and sleepy.

In addition, this decrease in alertness aims to save energy which will be used again to find food.

Impact on health

Feeling sleepy after eating is actually a natural thing.

There are no adequate studies that show that there are serious health effects if you have a food coma.

However, there are worrying conditions that can be caused by food coma, for example, sleepiness while driving and difficulty concentrating even though you have to work.

Some people worry that tiredness after eating is a sign of diabetes.

However, people with diabetes often feel tired and sleepy, not just after eating.

This is due to high blood sugar levels, meaning that sugar cannot be used to produce energy, so the body is always weak.

So, the drowsiness you experience after lunch is not necessarily a sign of a serious health problem.

How to get over a food coma

Although a food coma is a common condition, it may interfere with your activities and concentration.

To overcome this, try to do some of the tips below.

1. Try walking or stretching for 15 minutes after eating.
2. Make sure to eat a balanced nutritious diet.
3. Eat smaller portions, but more often.
4. Take a nap for 30 minutes.
5. Meet your daily fluid needs.
6. Get enough rest at night.

If you have health concerns because you are often sleepy after eating, it never hurts to consult a doctor.

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