Do you feel like taking a nap after eating a meal? This is a common problem that can lead to decreased productivity. Here’s what causes this problem and what you can do to correct it.
Do you feel like curling up and taking a long nap after eating a meal? Most people don’t have the luxury of sleeping after eating – especially if they’re on the job. In the best of all possible worlds, there were would be little room with a cot where you could take a nap after eating lunch. Imagine how productivity would soar as each employee returned to work refreshed and ready to focus. Since this is unlikely to happen at most companies, it’s important to find ways to feel less drowsy after eating a meal.
What Causes a Person to Feel Drowsy After a Meal?
There are a variety of reasons why feeling sleepy after eating occurs. When you eat a large meal, blood is diverted to the intestines where food is being digested. This means less oxygen and nourishment is reaching the brain which can lead to fatigue and drowsiness.
Another cause of feeling sleepy after eating a meal is a condition called the “alkaline tide”. When stomach acid is released to digest food, it causes a temporary alteration in the pH of the blood. Bicarbonate is released to compensate for the change in pH which causes the blood to become more alkaline – leading to drowsiness.
Changes in neurotransmitter levels in the brain that occur after eating a meal, particularly a high carb one, also contribute to sleepiness.
How Can You Avoid Feeling Sleepy After Eating?
One way to stop feeling sleepy after lunch is to eat less. Eat a high protein breakfast, a small mid-morning snack, and cut back on how much you eat during lunch hour. This helps keep blood sugar and insulin levels steady which prevents fluctuations in neurotransmitter levels that can lead to drowsiness.
Another way to reduce drowsiness is to change the composition of your meals. Eating simple carbohydrates such as potatoes, white rice, pasta, and sugary foods such as candy and desserts raises insulin levels rapidly which increases serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter associated with sleep. For lunch, have a good source of lean protein along with low-carb vegetables and you’ll reduce the need to nap the afternoon away.
To reduce drowsiness after eating, punt the caffeine habit. Although caffeine can hype you up temporarily, it sends you crashing once it wears off. Most people end up developing some tolerance to caffeine – meaning they have to drink more to stay alert. This can turn into a caffeine addiction that can be difficult to break. Try drinking a glass of green tea with lunch instead of coffee. It’s lower in caffeine and is less likely to lead to a caffeine addiction; yet it’ll still make you more alert.
Finally, take a fifteen minute walk after eating. This will get the blood flowing and lower blood sugar and insulin levels which will help to keep you awake after a meal.
The Bottom Line?
Change what you’re eating and eat less with each meal. Instead of downing a cup of coffee, take a brief walk instead. Finally, visit your doctor for blood tests to rule out conditions such as diabetes and hypothyroidism which can cause fatigue and sleepiness after a meal.