Postprandial somnolence is the condition that scientists refer to when one has eaten too much and has the condition of regret and self-loathing. We all have experienced this condition one time or the other when all we want to just lay down on the couch and sleep because we are feeling too drowsy after a large meal. This condition is called food coma. A research study has found that there are a variety of food items that can leave you in tryptophan or food coma. So, food coma is a very real thing, but we will first see why it happens.

The Facts Behind Food Comas

When the food enters the stomach, a hormone called gastrin produces which in turn causes the secretion of the digestive juices in the intestines. When the food is on its way to small intestines, it triggers the production of enterogastrones which regulate other functions of the body, for example, blood flow.

Blood helps to transport nutrients in the body. So, if you have less blood in the body then it will carry lesser oxygen to the muscles and brain, and you will feel fatigued and light headed.

Other enterogastrones like cholecystokinin have a direct connection to the production of neurotransmitters associated with sleep. Other factors such as what you eat and how much you eat counts a lot in this regard.

The Turkey Myth

Research study says that L – tryptophan is the main cause of post-meal sleepiness. L – tryptophan is a protein-based amino acid that is found in most protein-based foods like poultry, red meat, dairy, and fish. Turkey is the only eatable protein available that does not contain L – tryptophan.

Carbohydrates appear to contribute in the post-meal sleepiness. Thus eating foods that are rich in carbohydrates like bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes makes your levels of sugar to rise high that will lead to the production of insulin.

Insulin helps the L – tryptophan to enter the brain. In the brain the L – tryptophan is converted into serotonin which is a sleep neurotransmitter, thus causing the brain to get the signal to sleep.

It is also important to look which time of the day you are taking carbohydrates. When you are consuming carbohydrates rich meals in the morning, it is less likely that you will feel sleepy, mainly because your internal clock is set this way. Your internal clock will dictate the brain to remain awake even when you feel sleepy in daytime.

It is completely possible for you to avoid food coma and live a healthy and active lifestyle. Below are few tips to help you:

  1. A diet that has one to two ratio amounts of proteins and carbohydrates is a balanced diet. Try to eat a diet that is rich in protein and carbohydrates.
  2. Do not lay down or sit after a large meal.
  3. Take short breaks while you work on your seat to avoid sleepiness.
  4. Eat small size portions frequently rather than one large meal at one time.