We’ve all been there. Whether it’s been way too familiar to you for years now or it’s fairly new to you and just functioned as your (legitimate) excuse for dozing through a post-meal meeting, we’re all deeply aware of the unstoppable force of a “food coma.” Its formula is fairly standard: Eat way too much food, feel entirely unmovable and immediately fall asleep, regardless of surroundings. But is there actual science behind this widespread phenomenon? There just may be.
Fox News recently took a look at a study in the journal eLife as a way to understand if this “postprandial sleep” (as it’s more formally known) can be explained…through the patterns of fruit flies. It turns out that our little insect friends also enjoy snoozing after meals — especially ones that are high in protein, salt or just particularly large. In the study, flies that ate these types of meals slept for longer periods of time than flies that did not. That does sound familiar.
The researchers found evidence that specific areas in the brain were responsible for these prolonged naps, and that these areas were sensitive to the flies’ internal clock. What does this all mean? Well, it suggests that “food comas” are a unique type of sleep and might serve some important biological function.
Studies conducted on humans and their post-meal sleeping habits are somewhat limited and inconclusive at this point. But the fruit-fly study gives researchers the hope that future work can take direct aim at why exactly these timed naps are so necessary. We’ll anxiously await the results. Until then, give us just a couple hours of shut-eye. After all, we did just enjoy a gigantic breakfast.