If you feel sleepy after eating, this may be a standard reaction to the types of food you are consuming. It could also indicate a health problem. There are different degrees of being tired. Most people feel the need for a nap during the afternoon, after they've eaten lunch. In other situations, individuals are so tired they can't keep their eyes open no matter when or what they eat. This condition is more likely to be a health concern or a sleep disorder.
It Can be Normal
In most situations, feeling a bit tired after a meal is normal. This is especially true if you consume sweets or bakery items in that meal. This happens because these foods contain some level of sugar. Sugary foods trigger the brain to produce more serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter. Serotonin is a product of the brain at night, too, to help you to fall asleep.
The process is a bit more complex than this. For example:
- You consume foods that have a high amount of flour in them or sugar in them, like pastas.
- Your blood sugar levels rise because of the increased amount of sugar.
- Your pancreas gets to work to produce and release more insulin into the body's blood stream.
- With more insulin in your blood stream, a protein-building block called tryptophan moves to the brain.
- Tryptophan is converted into serotonin in the brain.
- Serotonin makes you tired and makes you crave a nap.
Avoiding These Symptoms
For those who work during the day or those that just cannot find the time for a nap, there are some ways you can avoid having this tired feeling after a meal:
- Change your diet. When it matters most, don't eat foods that are high in sugar and flour. For example, if you know you have an important meeting after lunch, do not consume sweets or flour-based foods for lunch.
- Choose foods more likely to stimulate the brain than to cause it to be drowsy. For example, vegetables, green salads, lean protein, seeds, fish, chicken and nuts are fantastic options. They are not instantly able to raise your blood sugar. These foods take longer for the body to digest which means your insulin rises far more slowly. There is no sudden need for a nap. In fact, these foods can help you feel more active and awake.
Conditions of Concern When You Feel Sleepy after Eating
There are some conditions that can cause you to feel sleepy after eating a meal. By taking the time to find out if you may be suffering from any of these conditions, you could boost your energy level up and perhaps spot signs of a much larger problem.
The following are some additional signs you may feel along with feeling sleepy after a meal. These could be potential health concerns for individuals:
- Allergies and Food Intolerances: Those individuals who feel not only sleepy but also have alternating bowel movements, such as being constipated then having diarrhea, are often suffering from allergic reactions, though they are mild. You may also have excessive gas and bloating.
- Nutrient Deficiencies: Individuals who see undigested food in their stool may have a nutrient deficiency, where the body is unable to process the nutrients taken in through food.
- Insulin Problems: Some people have bodies that do not regulate the production and use of insulin properly. For some with excessive problems diabetic conditions can develop or may be present. In others, milder insulin problems can lead to any number of other symptoms. Headaches, feeling dizzy, and feeling weak are all symptoms of diabetic issues or insulin irregularities that doctors should know about.
For most people, feeling sleepy after eating is normal. The brain's reaction to the food taken in is a normal reaction. You can overcome this by eating a healthier diet of more vegetables and protein, rather than carbohydrates. If the problem worsens, you may wish to speak to your family doctor or a nutritionist for more advice.