Why Do I Get Sleepy After Eating?

For most people there is nothing more indulging than a relaxing and cozy nap after a big, delicious meal. Some of us do it occasionally, but for many people is a normal part of their daily routine. All of are familiar with this sleepy syndrome after lunch.

You may ask yourself what is it that makes us feel sleepy after we eat. Does food we eat contain some mysterious substance that works like a sedative or is it something else? Moreover, why we are not sleepy after every meal?

Why we need to take a nap after lunch?

Our stomach and intestines get really busy while and after we eat. Our digestive system needs more blood to work properly and process the food we eat. Since our system pumps more blood to our intestines and gut, the rest of our body gets deprived of an amount of blood it normally gets. This harmless lack of blood could cause some people feeling dizzy, tired and sleepy. Since our body needs to supply our stomach with the fuel for processing food, our muscles, nerves and all other body parts are put to stand by.

However, it is more than the amount of food we’ve eaten that matters. It is true we would most likely feel tired and sleepy if we’ve had a large, fatty slice of pork, French fries and salad with dressing, compared to small serving of the same food. Yet, serving size is just one of the factors that affect our body and gets us sleepy. Our organism is more sophisticated than that.

It is also about the quality and nutritional value of the meal we’ve had. It is more likely to get really tired and slow after having fatty pork compared to fresh vegetables salad and some toast or such. Scientists have been working on solving the connection between the food we eat and that particular need to take a nap after meal, but they still haven’t got the clue.

As we’ve mentioned before, the quality of food we eat greatly affects our general sense of energy after meal. It is known for decades that unbalanced meals and of bad nutritional value make us feel sleepy and tired. Viands and dishes rich in fats and carbohydrates, in the first place. On the other hand, food rich in proteins does not make us feel slow, on the contrary.

The mystery resolved?

Some recent studies have showed that the level of glucose, normally appearing after big meals, has the ability to literally switch off brain cells responsible to keep us awake and energized. Orexin neurons that are responsible for keeping us awake are less active at night. Serious misbalances of this brain cells could even lead to narcolepsy. Researchers concluded that the high level of glucose affects orexin neurons, causing them to get less active.

According to studies, these results might also explain why we feel sleepy after a heavy meal.  When the level of glucose increases, the activity of orexin neurons gets decreased. Since these brain cells are also responsible for our appetite, serious disorders in their activity could also cause obesity and similar health problems.

How to avoid tiredness after lunch?

There are, however, practice ways to avoid this sleepy phenomenon. Well, you may find it indulging to take a nap after a meal, especially if it is a habit you practiced over the years.

Sleeping after meal is usually not recommended as a healthy practice.

  • Go for a walk

If you sleep right after meal, your whole body gets into completely different mode of operating. It is bad for digestion; you’ll just extend the time of digesting and make your stomach work harder. The best advice is to take a short walk after a meal, especially heavy one. Walking after meal will also help your body regulate the level of sugar in your blood.

  • Eat slowly

It is good to eat slowly and chew your food properly.  Just eat with full commitment to your meal and pay attention on the serving size. If you eat slowly and chew food properly, you’ll also reduce the risk of overeating. Overeating is connected with various health problems. It leads to obesity, diabetes and such, if you do it for long, of course. On the other hand, overeating will most certainly get you feel sleepy, very tired and slow, because your stomach would need to put an extra effort to process all of the food you’ve eaten. If that meal contained a lot of carbohydrates and fats, you’ll literally get exhausted.

The main reason to eat slowly is to help your body increase the natural level of the hormone leptin. This particular hormone is responsible for your sense of hunger and your appetite. Since leptin had been discovered, scientists and nutrition experts are working on a mission to find a way to use this valuable element to treat obesity. Leptin hormone affects certain points in our brain and manages or blocks our need for extra food. If leptin level is proper, it transfers the data out fat levels in our body to our brain.

Our organism thus gets aware of the exact level of fats and regulates it. If there are enough amounts, we won’t have need to ingest extra fat. A person doesn’t crave for more food, so there is no threat of extra kilos and obesity. Obese people usually devour meals and overeat themselves. The function of leptin is damaged and their body doesn’t get the chance to naturally regulate levels of fat. Moreover, obese people usually feel tired and they are slow, especially after meal.

  • Choose carefully

You should also pay attention on the quality of food you eat. Make a balanced diet plan. It should contain all the necessary ingredients your body requires on daily basis.

You should eat carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and all other nutrients. You just need to take them in appropriate proportions.

If you eat wisely, you won’t get tired and sleepy after lunch. Balanced diet would keep you energized, vital and healthy.