Do you long to take a nap after you eat – but fear it’s bad for you? Find out what the benefits are of napping after a meal – and who should and shouldn’t do it.
You’ve just eaten a big lunch, and you feel your eyes growing heavy. You long to stretch out on the couch for a nap, but you’ve heard that sleeping after you eat isn’t healthy. Is it bad to nap after eating – or is it okay to take a mid-afternoon snooze?
Is It Bad to Nap After You Eat?
There are some benefits to taking a nap after you eat – under certain conditions. A nap can help make up for lost sleep if you’ve been burning the midnight oil. Studies show that sleep deprivation raises levels of stress hormones like cortisol, which can increase your risk for abdominal obesity and heart disease. Plus, a short nap can boost your productivity if you didn’t get enough sleep the night before.
Some people think it’s bad to nap after eating because it will slow down their metabolism and lead to weight gain. A short nap shouldn’t affect your body fat or waistline as long as you’re active the rest of the day and don’t eat more calories than you burn off. In fact, taking a brief nap if you’re sleep deprived can actually reduce your risk of gaining weight by lowering cortisol levels.
For Some People, It is Bad to Nap after Eating
If you suffer from acid reflux disease after eating, take a brisk walk to wake up rather than lying down to take a nap. Lying flat after eating a meal worsens the symptoms of reflux, and you can end up with a bad case of heartburn. But if you don’t suffer from reflux or indigestion, a brief siesta lets your digestive tract focus on digesting your food rather than sending more blood flow to other areas of your body.
If you’re a person who has a hard time waking up, snoozing during the day is a bad idea since you’ll have to struggle to reach your usual level of alertness again. You probably already know if you fall into this category, and you’re one of those people who doesn’t function properly until you’ve been awake for a few hours.
If You Do Nap after Eating
If you nap after eating, keep your nap to thirty minutes or less. If you sleep longer, you’ll enter a deeper stage of sleep and have more difficulty waking up. If you’ve had enough sleep the night before, look for other ways to “perk up”. Take a walk or listen to some lively music – and try to limit how much you eat at lunch since overeating can make you sleepy.
Is It Bad to Nap after Eating: The Bottom Line?
A brief nap after eating if you didn’t get enough sleep the night before can boost your productivity. Just keep it under thirty minutes. If you’re not sleep-deprived, take a walk instead. Walking is beneficial for digestion as long as you don’t move to fast – no running or jogging. There’s plenty of time for that once your food digests.
Medscape Family Medicine. “Sleep Deprivation Linked to Weight Gain”
Merck Manual. Eighteenth edition. 2006.