It is very common to feel tired and sleepy after eating, lacking the energy to do the rest of the day’s work, especially if we are in a quiet, cool place with little stress; the perfect formula for a good nap. However, I often wonder why I feel sleepy after eating.
This is called postprandial somnolence, it is considered normal as long as its intensity does not affect daily activities. This varies depending on each person and their eating habits.
Why does it occur?
When we eat, a large part of the blood volume is located around the digestive system to the detriment of other areas of the body not involved in this process, such as the brain and muscles, which causes a feeling of tiredness and relaxation.
With large meals, the diaphragm rises a little, resulting in shallower breaths, accumulating carbon dioxide, which varies in different people.
On the other hand, serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is produced at the level of the brain in the Rafe nuclei and the brain stem, although 90% is found in the gastrointestinal tract. Among its positive effects is generating pleasure, sleep and happiness. It is key in regulating mood, appetite and cognitive functions.
Serotonin is synthesized from tryptophan, an essential amino acid (only acquired from the diet), and this uptake increases when we eat foods rich in fats and refined carbohydrates. This increases the production of serotonin and with this the feeling of relaxation and sleep.
How to reduce the feeling of sleep after eating?
- Modify your eating habits. Sometimes we skip breakfast or lunch and arrive at the next meal with too much appetite, which will lead us to a larger meal.
- You must also modify the quality of your meals by reducing the fat content, especially saturated fats, as well as refined carbohydrates and whenever you can use the so-called whole grains.
- It is also advisable to increase the consumption of vegetables and some proteins.
- Practicing physical exercises. Physical activity helps us reduce stress, regulate digestion and feel more energetic. Exposing yourself to sunlight activates the brain.
- Walk a little after eating. Walking after meals improves digestion and stimulates brain function.
- Stay hydrated. It will prevent the brain from “feeling tired.”