What Is A Food Coma (and does it exist)?

Jul 12, 2011 8:01 am

The Food Scientist answers vexing food questions

Food Coma
Photo: star5112 on Flickr
Food comas are especially dangerous in the workplace
 

What is a food coma?
Despite the seemingly comical name, this is actually a medically recognized condition known as post-prandial somnolence. Unlinke a real coma, food coma is the completely natural feeling of fatigue you get when you’ve finished eating a meal. As a general rule of thumb, the bigger the meal, the harder you’ll fall asleep.

What causes it?
Swallowing your food is only the first step to developing a food coma. After being partially digested by the powerful acids of the stomach, it’s on to the intestines, where the food-induced sleepiness really begins. Nutrients in the food trigger a chain reaction that starts with blood and energy being diverted to aid in digestion and away from the "non-essential" functions of the body like exercise and muscle exertion. The more "essential" function at hand is getting nutrients into the bloodstream. This and the hormonal changes caused by glucose — AKA energy — uptake by your body to make you feel very, very sleepy. Sweet dreams!

Possible Side Effects
Friends, loved ones or co-workers may take advantage of your comatose state to stick things up your nostrils or draw mustaches on you with permanent markers.


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