Food Coma or Post Prandial Somnolence – Causes and Prevention

This is often described as the the sense of fatigue, sleepiness, or decreased energy levels that can occur shortly after eating a meal. Postprandial means after eating, while somnolence means sleepiness. It may occur as a natural biological reaction to the body digesting food, or there may be other reasons why the person feels sleepy.

Causes of Food Coma

Type of food: Meals that are rich in carbohydrates can help the body absorb tryptophan, which is an amino acid that the body uses to create serotonin, that helps regulate sleep, digestion, and mood, which may account for that common post-meal feeling of happiness, sleepiness, and satiety. Protein-rich foods also contain tryptophan.

Size of the meal: The bigger the meal, the longer it takes for the digestive system to absorb all the nutrients. Blood sugar will also rise, which can lead to a dip in energy levels shortly afterward.

Meal time: The reason for post-lunch sleepiness may be because of the effort it takes to digest a large meal also coincides with the body’s natural slump in energy.

Blood Circulation: Post meal, more blood moves to the digestive system and away from the brain. This change in circulation may trigger feelings of lightheadedness, dizziness, or sleepiness.

Prevention of Food Coma

The following steps can be taken to increase their feelings of alertness after eating, especially during the daytime –

  • Light walking helps increase alertness and mental function during the post-lunch dip
  • Smaller but more frequent meals will help keep energy levels stable, avoiding bigger dips.
  • A quick doze after lunch may improve cognitive performance for the rest of the afternoon.
  • Bulking up the vegetable portion and reducing carb- or protein in a meal may help prevent energy dips.
  • Keeping a note of which foods are more likely to cause sleepiness may help people avoid them

Whatever the reason behind a food coma, people can take simple steps to avoid feelings of lethargy and sleepiness after meals. These include reducing portion sizes, eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet, and getting more exercise and sleep.


Author: Pallabi Sinha

I am a Nutritionist with 6 years of expertise in the field. I have a knack of convincing people to switch to a healthier lifestyle.