How To Avoid Feeling Sleepy After A Hearty Meal?

Why do we feel sleepy after tucking into a hearty meal? We’ve all felt that post-meal dip when you’re full and relaxed and sleep is sneaking up on you.

If you are wondering where this fatigue comes from, we’ve got the answers.

Why do I get sleepy after eating?

Studies show that not only are we ‘what we eat’ but food also affects how we feel at different times throughout the day, which can cause postprandial somnolence (that sleepy feeling after eating).

Other factors that also affect post-meal fatigue include age, health, lifestyle choices, meal sizes and other causes of sleepiness and fatigue.

There are more reasons which we’ll explore in more detail:


Right after you’ve had your sandwich, salad and dessert for lunch, your digestive system kicks into overdrive to process your meal. What does this look like internally?

For one, your pancreas secretes insulin to regulate your blood sugar levels. The heavier the meal, the more insulin is produced, simultaneously metabolized into serotonin and melatonin. These are the key hormones which induce drowsiness.

Physical activity

The less you move around, the higher the chances of you feeling sleepy after eating. That’s because physical activity counters the drowsiness you may feel. We say, take a walk after lunch to feel more alert.

Certain foods in your diet

There are some foods that make you sleepy and they contain tryptophan, a chemical which triggers the production of the sleep hormone serotonin. Turkey, cauliflower, soya and fish have tryptophan in abundance, so avoid them if you don’t want to nap after lunchtime.

Food intolerances

Are there any foods that you are allergic to? Even being sensitive to certain food can trigger sleepiness after eating. When you eat foods that you have an intolerance to, they cause inflammation, irritating the lining of the stomach and causing the body to ‘shut down.’

Is it good to sleep after eating?

A power nap after lunch offers many benefits. Expect to feel more mentally productive, refreshed, focused and ready to take on the world. Naps also boost your mood and sharpen your memory so you can take in large amounts of information.

5 ways to prevent being sleepy after eating

You’ve clicked on this article to find out how to stop the post-meal blues, so here we go.

1. Drink lots of water

Water aids the digestion process and increases your energy levels. Staying hydrated will help to prevent you from feeling that post-meal fatigue.

2. Eat smaller meals

Smaller meals release less glucose. During digestion, the release of glucose contributes to high sugar levels in the blood which can bring on post-meal fatigue.

3. Get some exercise

Having a vigorous fitness regime or taking the time to take a walk or do small exercises during your lunch break can help you stay awake. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. It also delivers oxygen and nutrients to your body’s tissues, improving cardiovascular health, giving you more energy to do daily tasks.

4. Get some fresh air

Studies show that oxygen revitalizes the brain by improving blood circulation. Getting some fresh air or enjoying the breeze can give you a mid-day kickstart in maintaining your alertness.

5. Get a good night’s sleep

As much as being successful at work is important to ace all your career goals, sleep is key. Put excellent sleep quality first by:

  • Sleeping for at least 7-9 hours so your body can adequately cycle through the 5 stages of sleep.
  • Practicing sleep hygiene by creating a sanctuary for yourself with a well-lit room and avoiding blue light before bedtime.
  • Eating for sleep success by including foods that promote sleep.

Don’t suffer from sleepiness

Fatigue from eating can be managed through diet, exercise and lifestyle choices. A consistent sleep schedule can also help you stay awake during the day and minimize the chances of you feeling sleepy after a hearty meal. Solid, uninterrupted sleep at night mends tissue, generates new cells, consolidates memories and prepares you to tackle the day ahead with a clear mind and well-rested body.

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