Entries in thanksgiving (1)


The science behind the food coma

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a day of family, football, and feasting! Following a large meal, many people experience what is known colloquially as a “food coma”.

Recently, scientists from the Scripps Research Institute, Florida Atlantic University, and Bowling Green State University may have found a reason for the phenomenon of postprandial sleep.  William Ja and colleagues used Drosophila (fruit flies) as a model to investigate the effects of eating on sleep. They found that after a meal, flies increased sleep for a short period before returning to a normal state of alertness. Flies that ate more also slept more. Protein, salt, and the amount eaten increased sleep, but sugar had no effect.

Researchers also used genetic tools to turn on and off neurons in the fly brain and identified a number of brain circuits that play a role in controlling post-meal sleepiness. Some of these respond specifically to protein consumption, while others are sensitive to the fruit fly’s circadian rhythms.

While this study was in fruit flies, there are some parallels and connections to mammals. Researchers speculate that post-meal sleep is important, perhaps for boosting digestion or helping animals form memories about a food source.

I wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving! Hopefully the “food coma” won’t hit too hard. 



Scripps Research Institute. “Scientists Find Surprising Answers to ‘Food Coma’ Conundrum.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 22 November 2016.

“Postprandial sleep mechanics in Drosophila” by Keith R Murphy, Sonali A Deshpande, Maria E Yurgel, James P Quinn, Jennifer L Weissbach, Alex C Keene, Ken Dawson-Scully, Robert Huber, Seth M Tomchik, and William W Ja in eLife. Published online November 22 2016 doi:10.7554/eLife.19334