Do you feel sleepy after lunch? Here’s why it happens

Eating a heavy meal can easily make you feel sleepy after lunch. Know more reasons behind post-lunch fatigue and how to overcome it.
Woman sleepy after lunch
Do you feel sleepy and sluggish after lunch? Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Purvi Kalra Published: 11 May 2024, 15:00 pm IST
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Isn’t it an everyday phenomenon? You start your day flushed with good energy, have your breakfast, and head to perform your routine duties. But after lunch, you feel a dip in your energy, and you feel like dozing off for a while. But if you are at work, resting can be hard. Has it ever made you wonder why you feel sleepy after lunch, and what can you do to overcome post-lunch fatigue?

Why is it common to feel tired after lunch?

It is quite common to feel sleepy after lunch. There are multiple reasons why it happens:

1. The digestion process takes energy

Firstly, digestion requires energy, so after a meal, your body redirects blood flow to your digestive system, which can make you feel sluggish, says Pulmonologist and Respiratory Medicine specialist Dr Arunesh Kumar. Your digestion process takes up most of your body’s energy, leaving you feeling sluggish after lunch.

Post-lunch fatigue
Feeling post-lunch fatigue every day? Here’s why! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Certain foods cause more sluggishness

Certain foods, like those high in carbohydrates or fats, can cause a spike in blood sugar followed by a crash, leading to fatigue, says the expert. Foods that are high in protein and carbohydrates make people feel more drowsy than other foods. Alongside, eating food produces serotonin in the body. Serotonin is a chemical that plays a vital role in enhancing your mood and sleep cycles. Also, an amino acid called tryptophan, which is found in many protein-rich foods, aids the body in producing serotonin. While carbohydrates help in the absorption of tryptophan. It is because of these that most people feel a lack of energy after having a lunch packed with foods rich in protein and carbohydrates.

Tryptophan is present in foods that have high protein and those include:

• Salmon
• Poultry
• Eggs
• Spinach
• Seeds
• Milk
• Soy products
• Cheese

Foods that are rich in carbohydrates include:

• Pasta
• Rice
• White bread
• Cakes, doughnuts, cookies, and muffins
• Milk
• Sugar and candy

Also read: Eating citrus fruits after a meal may not be healthy! Here’s why

3. More insulin production

Eating a large meal can trigger the release of hormones like insulin, which can induce drowsiness. This can again be due to certain composition of foods. Certain foods are known to promote sleepiness due to their composition or the presence of specific compounds. For example, foods high in tryptophan, like turkey, dairy products, and nuts, can increase serotonin levels in the brain, promoting relaxation and drowsiness. Similarly, carbohydrate-rich foods can trigger the release of insulin, which promotes the uptake of tryptophan into the brain, further enhancing its sedative effects, says the expert.

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post-lunch fatigue
Combat post-lunch fatigue with these tips! Image courtesy: Shuttersock

How to stop feeling tired after lunch?

You can curb post-lunch fatigue by adhering to the following tips. These will help you to avoid feeling sleepy after lunch:

1. Go for lighter meals

Opt for lighter meals with a balance of protein, fibre, and healthy fats to provide sustained energy. Avoiding heavy, carbohydrate-rich foods can help prevent blood sugar fluctuations that lead to sleepiness, says the expert.

2. Go for whole-foods

Along with having lighter meals, focus on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Hydration is also crucial. So, drinking water throughout the day can help maintain energy levels.

Also read: Have a habit of taking afternoon naps? Know if it’s good or bad

The bottom line

Feeling tired after lunch is a common phenomenon with various contributing factors, including digestion, blood sugar fluctuations, and meal composition. Choosing lighter, balanced meals and staying hydrated can help alleviate post-lunch fatigue, while avoiding foods that promote sleepiness, such as those high in carbohydrates or tryptophan, can also be beneficial. If fatigue persists despite dietary adjustments, it may be worth consulting a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying health issues.

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About the Author

After testing her skill-set in the field of management and marketing, Purvi Kalra is exploring the world of turning thoughts to words. Her penchant for writing stems for being an avid reader all her life. Her work drives her to be better every day. ...Read More

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