14 April 2024

Sleepiness after a meal – causes and treatment

senny kot

Eating a meal is a very important activity for our body, which introduces a lot of changes in the body and prepares us for digestion. To digest food, the intestines work harder and therefore need more blood. It comes from other organs, including the brain. This does not mean, of course, that our brain is exposed to any loss at this point. However, the result is that he is less active during this time, which is often what leads to sleepiness. This is the most normal reaction of the body, but in some cases it can also be a sign of a serious medical condition that requires immediate treatment. Therefore, we recommend that you find out if your drowsiness after a meal is a symptom of something more serious!   

What does sleepiness after a meal mean?

Post-meal sleepiness occurs naturally in many people. It is especially true for those with low blood pressure by nature. Then, apart from a low heart rate, we are also dealing with decreased brain activity caused by hypoxia. This is for a very simple reason – the blood that was in the brain has been partially moved by our body down into the digestive areas to support the intestines during the meal. In addition to this, drowsiness after a meal can also be a sign of low blood glucose, which has a direct effect on our brain. However, being drowsy after eating lunch can also be a symptom of a serious illness. So what are the causes of sleepiness after a meal?

sleepiness at work

Sleepiness after a meal – causes

Eating a dish can sometimes make you feel like a nap. While it is sometimes a natural reaction of the body to the activities described above, sometimes it is a sign of something more serious. One of the causes of drowsiness after eating a meal may be poor blood supply to the intestines caused by atherosclerosis. Due to atherosclerosis and the resulting intestinal anemia, nutrient absorption may be impaired and abdominal pain, also known as abdominal claudication, may occur.

These sugar problems are another cause of sleepiness after a meal. We are talking about both postprandial hypoglycemia and diabetes. Reactive postprandial hypoglycaemia is nothing more than lowering the blood glucose level immediately after eating a meal (within two to three hours). The symptoms of hypoglycaemia or diabetes are tiredness and dizziness. Moreover, if we still feel hungry, sweat, and also feel anxious after a meal, we may be at risk of insulin being thrown into the blood after eating food.

Postmeal sleepiness may also be caused by psychological factors that may result in hypersomy. Overweight, obesity, depression, sleep-disrupting substances, and even alcoholism can lead us to a state where rest after lunch can turn into an unwanted long nap.

excessive sleepiness

Excessive sleepiness after a meal – how and when?

Treatment of excessive sleepiness after a meal should be used only when our concerns about excessive sleepiness are justified and it is actually a symptom of a more serious illness or ailment. This is why the first thing you should do is go to the hospital for a diagnosis.

If our problems were caused by atherosclerosis and abdominal claudication appeared, then we will have to follow many recommendations if we want to somehow reduce excessive sleepiness and help ourselves to improve health. Abdominal pain caused by atherosclerosis is very difficult to treat. Above all, you should limit heavy meals – eat less, but more often. Then we will not lead to a situation where the intestines cannot keep up with the digestion of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and other ingredients.

Another way to treat excessive sleepiness is to address the root of the problem, not the effect. We are talking about diabetes and hypoglycaemia or hypersomy. In the case of hypoglycaemia, you should first of all provide the body with access to simple sugars – the use of sweet carbonated drinks such as Cola, Mirinda or energy drinks will be a great solution. In case of diabetes, you should think about insulin. When it comes to hypersomy, the source of the problem should be diagnosed as soon as possible and the problem should be resolved at the source.

problems with concentration

What are some other ways to cope with sleepiness after a meal?

Excessive post-meal sleepiness can also be eliminated by making our lives more attractive. This is especially true for people who have a sedentary job – most often in the office. Maintaining the same sitting position all the time is not recommended for our health – be it physical or mental. In addition, the afternoon stillness caused by work or lifestyle is another reason why we may experience sudden sleepiness after a meal.

Introducing some kind of variation in the form of working in a sitting position or just getting some exercise after eating lunch is a great way to reduce the possibility of sudden sleepiness and enjoy a day without sleep seizures.  

How can I get over sudden sleepiness after eating?

An interesting solution to sudden sleepiness after eating will be to use a diet that will help us reduce food products, which, firstly, may be difficult to digest, and thus negatively affect digestion and, secondly, may be the cause of problems not only with sudden sleepiness after a meal, but also with slimming.

We should definitely get rid of carbohydrates from our menu. Replacing them with products that are rich in fats of good origin is a great idea. Good examples are olives and olive oil (room temperature obligatory). Other recommended solutions will be avocados, nuts (hazelnuts, peanuts, Italian, and even almonds), egg yolks and meat of animals that were grazed in the meadows (i.e. free-range).

Another solution that can help us solve the problem of sleepiness after eating is practicing any physical activity. Accelerating metabolism through exercise allows us to burn glycogen and then fats, thanks to which we create energy, while improving our concentration and increasing resistance to premature nap.

Adequate sleep is another solution that may seem obvious to many. However, people often neglect rest, causing their bodies to crave for missing hours of rest. Nowadays, when we find electronic devices distracting our attention on all sides, regular sleep is extremely important. We should not forget this.

drowsiness after a meal

Sleepiness after eating – summary

Despite the fact that in many cases sleepiness after eating is caused by lack of sleep or the natural activity of the body, it can sometimes be a harbinger of a more serious ailment. Therefore, fatigue after eating a meal cannot be underestimated, as it may be the first symptom of a more serious illness. The problem may be atherosclerosis, diabetes, lack of physical activity, too many carbohydrates, including simple sugars in the diet. Of course, this could simply be the fault of the brain’s hypoxia caused by a natural process, or not getting enough regular sleep. However, if drowsiness after eating has become a chronic phenomenon, it is recommended to see a specialist doctor.

Katarzyna Kroteniuk

Editor-in-chief of diet4u.org blog

View all posts by Katarzyna Kroteniuk →

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