How to Enjoy Casino Food Without Falling Asleep

Sleepy Man With a Casino Buffet Background

It’s not fair. You anticipate having a great time at a high-end casino, and when you get there, you gorge on the buffet. And then you struggle to stay away as your body slows down.

If you’re only dropping by the local casino on your lunch hour, chances are you’ll grab a sandwich and drink before hitting the tables or slot machines for a few minutes.

If you’re there for the day or evening, you’ll stop by the buffet, diner, or one of the main restaurants. That’s where they get you: right in the stomach. It’s like being sucker-punched by a 4-star chef.

The Casino Experience

The house already has a mathematical edge in all the games. And contrary to intuitive thinking, the bright lights don’t help keep you awake so much as mesmerized. The same is true for all the ringing bells from slot machines.

From the time you drive up the long entrance road to the time you walk out the door past the smiling staff, the entire casino experience is designed to make you feel relaxed and forget your worries.

Honestly, that’s why most people love going to the casino. It’s a fun way to pass the time. If only you can keep track of the time.

Las Vegas Casino Floor

And so casino patrons should expect good food. The locals may be happy to visit the off-track gambling parlors where they can munch on tuna fish sandwiches and push slot machine buttons, but when you’re traveling, you want more from your gambling experience. You want to feel like they value your patronage.

Serving great food makes a casino more competitive, more appealing to customers from near and far. And it just so happens a lot of the rich food the higher-end casinos serve contribute to the total ambiance.

Why Does Food Make You Sleepy?

People obviously need food to survive. That’s the rule of life. Everyone eats to live, even tiny microbes.

But things get crazy when you start looking at the rules of good nutrition. You’re supposed to eat large meals in the morning and light meals in the evening. The body needs to be active to digest its food, regulate blood sugar, and burn energy efficiently.

And yet people love to eat large meals at night, especially when they spend the rest of the evening sitting down in front of a television, at a bar, or playing casino games.

The most common reason why people feel sleepy after eating is that they consume too much protein. Protein-rich foods contain tryptophan, an amino acid the body uses to make serotonin, the so-called sleep hormone. The more tryptophan you consume, the more serotonin your body wants to make.

But it’s not that simple. The body needs carbohydrates to absorb that tryptophan. Otherwise, it simply flushes out of your system. Eating a large meal rich in protein and carbohydrates makes everyone feel sleepier than they were before they ate.

Beyond these basic facts, there are many theories about how missing a meal, eating small breakfasts, eating too many carbs for breakfast, etc. affect your sleepiness throughout the day. Assuming that you walked into the casino fully alert and not yet hungry, your problem is most likely due to whatever you eat at the casino.

Other Things Make You Sleepy

It’s not always the food that does you in. Alcohol not only relaxes people, it eventually makes you sleepy.

Fatigue and boredom also contribute to sleepiness. If you’re bored, your mental alertness declines. The body may not relax, but you can still feel sleepy because, hey, it’s something to do. And you might have an interesting dream to enjoy.

Craft Las Vegas Food Spread

Health experts recommend being fully rested to ward against feeling sleepy during a long stay at the casino before you hit the tables or slots. But you should also get up and walk around for 5-10 minutes every hour.

The worst thing you can do for your mental alertness is head straight for the casino as soon as you get into town after a long road trip, gorge on a big meal, and sit in a chair for hours. If you drink alcohol, you’re contributing to the problem.

Caffeinated Beverages Help Us Stay Awake

Everyone knows caffeine wakes you up – but there are some catches. People who drink a lot of caffeine may develop a high tolerance for it. That means you need more and more caffeine to rouse yourself, especially if you’re genuinely tired.

Consuming too much caffeine may also damage your esophagus and stomach. No one wants to think about how much their coffee or soda contributes to ulcers, but it’s a good idea to switch between caffeinated and non-caffeinated beverages while gaming. Keep a bottle of water handy for when you feel genuinely thirsty.

There are health benefits to consuming caffeine, too. Moderate green tea and coffee consumption are associated with good health and long life in some studies. So asking for a diet soda or a cup of coffee at the casino is a good idea.

Eating a Good Breakfast Puts You on the Right Path

If you’re staying at the casino’s hotel and eat breakfast there, that’s when you should eat a big meal. Go heavy on the oatmeal and fruit. Fueling your body is essential to having a steady mind when gambling.

People with type two diabetes are taught to regulate their glucose through diet by eating their largest meal in the morning. Your body needs protein and fiber, and carbohydrates to keep going throughout the day. Breakfast is where you should consume the largest portions.

Large Spread of Breakfast Foods

Eggs are good morning food, too. Honestly, many people eat eggs at any time of the day.

Although many different fruits are considered good for breakfast, apples are a great choice. You won’t find many fresh apples sitting on the breakfast bar, but if you do, take one. Apples contain quercetin, which contributes to our wakefulness.

Oranges, tangerines, tangelos, and other citrus fruits are also great breakfast foods. They are rich in vitamin C, which helps the body fight infection and stay awake.

The best wakeful beverage for breakfast (besides your morning cup of coffee) is water. Many people outgrow their fondness for milk and cereal, but if you’re still drinking milk with your eggs and toast, try substituting water instead. Milk contributes to sleepiness; water doesn’t.

Make Good Choices at Lunch

If you’re not a salad person, you should consider developing a favorite salad recipe anyway. A well-stocked salad bar may have dozens of ingredients you can use, including several types of lettuce and alternative leafy greens like spinach and kale.

There is usually something everyone can eat at a salad bar. You’ll find several types of proteins, vegetables, and fruits.

The more balanced your salad is, the better. Include a little bit of everything and go easy on the dressing.

If you’re looking forward to enjoying the kitchen staff’s special skills, choose a plated meal over the buffet. The chefs design these meals to be satisfying but not over-filling. They’ll ensure you have a good mix of protein, fat, fiber, and carbs on your plate.

Skip the dessert. You don’t need dessert. But if you have one anyway, split the dessert with a friend, leave some on the plate, or eat something small.

If all you want is a sandwich, bigger is not necessarily better. Casino sandwich shops may serve food fast and at a great price, but they tend to give more value per plate than you need. If you get a burger and fries, substitute a small salad or eat fewer fries. Toss the bun and eat your burger with a fork.

If you love fish, you may go for the tuna salad. But fish makes you sleepy, too. Avoid bananas, as well.

Keep All Bets on the Tables at Dinner

If you’ve been waiting to go for broke at dinner time, you’re setting yourself up for a battle with the sandman.

You don’t need to eat a small meal. You need to eat a reasonable meal. Some people prefer to snack all evening long, and that’s even riskier because they’re probably eating chips and other high-carb foods.

If you choose a plated meal, you’ll probably be okay, unless you order double portions or take extra food from a friend’s plate. Don’t order dessert unless you plan on eating just a bite or two.

Man Carving a Roast Ham

Getting casino comps for the buffet is where you’ll meet your doom.

It’s hard not to go back for a 2nd or 3rd plate because there is so much good food on the buffet line. Nutritionists and health experts say if you can fill a plate up with food, that’s all you need.

This is why it’s best to start with a salad and water. Fill up on the leafy greens and water first. That way, when you go back to the bar for your proteins, you’ll feel a little less hungry.

If you eat a salad, you don’t need to pile on the corn, peas, and carrots. You’ve already gotten a good mix of fiber and carbs.


One way to make a meal feel more filling is to extend the eating process through conversation. In other words, don’t just sit there and eat, eat, eat. Talk to your companions. Text someone.

Distracting yourself while you eat helps your body feel full without eating too much food. The less you overeat, the easier it is to stay away.