Why Do I Feel Sleepy After Eating a Meal? - Dealing With Post-Meal Sleepiness
You might often find yourself feeling sleepy and tired in your office. Sometimes it can last for a couple of hours, but sometimes you would find yourself in that spot throughout the day. In most cases it has to do with the big fat lunch meal you had earlier that day, but there can be different reasons too. It's not something you need to specifically worry about; however, if you have been feeling sleepy after eating on a regular basis, it would be better that you consult a doctor once. Read the following article to clear such doubts about post-meal sleepiness and how you can overcome this.
Reasons for post-meal sleepiness
Before knowing how to fix the problem, let us understand what our problem exactly is and how it is caused. Here are some causes for the sleepiness that is caused in the body after eating lunch.
The things you eat affect your energy levels
Proteins and carbohydrates are the major culprits of making you feel sleepy all the time post-meals. Now, you may think what protein has done? Protein foods have an amino acid known as Tryptophan that produces serotonin in the body. However, carbohydrates play a role in helping the body absorb Tryptophan. Keep a check on your protein and carb intake from now on! But that being said, what you eat will not become a problem if you control the ‘how much you eat part’.
Hormones that make you feel sleepy after eating lunch
There are different hormones that play a role in sleep and energy balance in the human body.
Created by the human body naturally, Melatonin is a hormone that is responsible for regulating the sleeping and waking-up cycle for us. Did you know that darkness causes the body to produce more Melatonin? That is how our body knows that we need to sleep at night. There has been extensive research, and it has been found that blue light (emitted by smartphones) affects sleep in a way that it decreases melatonin production and signals our body to stay awake. Also, you must have heard of a term called 'insomnia' - a state in which a person cannot sleep at all. Low levels of this hormone can cause sleep issues in the body. Hence, medical experts have come up with some melatonin supplements that anyone can take to get a good night's sleep.
On the other hand, there is one more hormone that influences our sleep cycle. Serotonin, a hormone released by the brain, is what makes a person drowsy.
This hormone is accountable for balancing our mood, sense of well-being, energy, and happiness. Not only our brain but serotonin also affects our entire body. If you want to get a workaround for your sleep, digestion, and mood altogether, it is serotonin. According to scientists, this hormone can contribute to post-meal sleepiness. So, even if you keep a check on what you are eating for lunch and your meal size, an imbalance of serotonin might make you feel like hitting the bed post-lunch.
What causes the production of this hormone?
It has been found that the human body uses the amino acid (Tryptophan) for producing serotonin.
Why is it important to balance the Serotonin level in the body?
Too much or too little of something can be equally dangerous, and that is why an optimal balance is much needed. When it comes to serotonin, the same balance needs to be maintained. Otherwise, the extreme ends can put you in a bad position. If your brain gets less serotonin than it requires, you might experience drowsiness, depression, and tiredness. On the other hand, if the serotonin levels increase, they might cause an uncontrolled functioning of nerve cell activity in your body. That is the reason why a person might feel anxious and hyperactive.
Homeostatic sleep drive and circadian rhythm
In simple words, a homeostatic sleep drive is a basic routine that your body follows when it comes to sleep or a force that compels your body to take rest at some specific hours of the day. We generally believe that the reason why we feel so sleepy in the afternoon after having our meal is the food. However, we forget the time bracket wherein this lethargic feeling falls. Scientifically, what happens is that adenosine - a chemical in the brain - reaches the highest level before our standard bedtime.
This is how your body gets a signal to sleep. This kind of works like if you stayed up one night or could not get the desired rest, your brain would automatically start telling your body that it is time to sleep even if it is post-lunch. Hence, long nights can result in lazy afternoons.
There is one more theory to add to it, and that is circadian rhythm. It is an alerting signal pattern that controls the expansion of adenosine in the body, keeping us away from sleeping. However, a little glitch happens about seven to nine hours after starting your day. During this time, you might feel a little more tired and drowsy. Now, this time of seven to nine hours from your waking up generally comes around lunchtime; hence we can't just blame 'food' for feeling sleepy.
When to see a doctor?
Feeling tired after a meal might be a normal thing that everyone experiences, but if you find even a slight increase in this feeling, it is advised to see a doctor. There might be some underlying health issues that are contributing to tiredness after having your meal. Some health conditions like various food intolerances or allergies might be a reason that you might have a hormone imbalance causing you to sleep.
Is feeling tired after eating a sign of blood sugar imbalance?
Every effect has its cause, and maybe your tiredness might be an effect of diabetes. Maybe the tiredness after eating food is not after all related to the food. If your blood sugar levels fluctuate and you feel tired, you might be suffering from high or low blood sugar levels.
Managing tiredness and high blood sugar levels post meals
The reason why your blood sugar levels are increasing is that the carbohydrates you just ate might have acted on your insulin. The proportion of carbohydrates can be a question too. In this case, either keep a check on the diet or consult a doctor to change your medicine dosage. Eating low carb foods and exercise can also help.
Dealing with post-meal sleepiness if you have hypoglycemia
If your body is not able to manage the blood sugar levels properly, you have hypoglycemia. The best way to manage your blood sugar levels is by monitoring them regularly. You can manage your low blood sugars in two ways: either you start consuming more carbohydrates, or you can alter your medication and get a high dosage. Avoiding too many soft drinks, caffeine and sugary foods is also a way to tackle this.
Treatments and home remedies
If you feel like taking a nap in the afternoon and even coffee cannot fix it, you do not have to worry. We have listed down some solutions for you.
Avoid big meals
Do not completely ditch food and keep your stomach empty. That will affect your health and digestive system. Rather, switch to small portions but regular intake of food rather than eating all the food at once. Also, munching would keep you alert while you work and keep your digestive system in check too. Eating in smaller plates can also make your stomach feel fuller even if you eat the same amount of food
Say bye-bye to your sweet cravings if you do not want to experience sleepiness during working hours. You might feel very energetic right after eating sugar, but after a while, it would end up making you feel lazy. Also, sugar is anyway not very good for health, and it will also make you fat. An alternative to this is eating fruits. They are sweet and also a healthy option to include in your diet.
One of the reasons to feel fatigued in the daytime can be less consumption of water. Hydration is very helpful for your concentration and your body to be active. You must drink at least 8 to 7 glasses of water per day.
A good night's sleep
If you are a night owl and compromise on your sleep at night, you will end up feeling tired in the daytime. So, to avoid sleeping on your desk, get a good rest at night. If you have to work, then you can also use the Pomodoro technique and take small naps throughout your day to accommodate for the sleep lost during the night time
A little physical activity in the daytime will help you stay energetic throughout the day. If you cannot incorporate an exercise routine into your day, you should try to move around a bit after eating the food to avoid sleepiness. This will also help your body to burn its glycogen stores prohibiting excess carbohydrate buildup.
Go in the sun
In 2015, research revealed that people who go out in the sun after eating their meal feel less tired than the ones who do not get sunlight exposure. Exposure to vitamin D is also good for skin and will increase alertness.
Drinking alcohol with your meal has a high chance of making you feel more tired and encouraging fatigue.
We hope that this article answered most of your doubts about post-lunch sleepiness.