Have you ever eaten a meal and a few hours later, you experience a wave of sleepiness sweeping over your body ?You’re not alone! It’s normal to experience such fatigue and tiredness after you have a big meal (especially) full of carbohydrates and protein. In fact, many people term this effect as “food coma”.
We get it! We’ve gotten ready a few tips to avoid your food coma. 1. Give yourself time: Try waiting at least 3-4 hours before going to bed so that your body has some time to devote to digestion.
Sleeping and Feeling Tired After Eating- What Should You Do?
Everyone craves a late night snack. It’s a guilty pleasure for so many of us.
Most of us already know what eating a huge meal right before bed can feel like. It’s uncomfortable, to put it mildly. Eating a huge meal right before you go to bed can have unhealthy consequences on you like weight gain, indigestion, heartburn, etc. Heavenluxe is diving deeper into how and to what extent does sleeping right after eating affects your body and well-being.
That said, it depends on what and how much of it you consume. According to research, food is not digested properly when you go to bed right after a meal. It may also lead to problems like weight gain, heartburn, bloating, and acid reflux. But the first and most perceptible point stays to be that there’s plenty of food in your belly that needs to be digested. Well, we understand that it’s tough. What’s the first thing you want to do after having a good and huge meal? Of course, the first instinct is to lay down and be a sloth! However, even though it feels like heaven to you at the moment, it’s a BIG no-no for your body’s health and well-being. It’s advised to have a gap of at least 3 to 4 hours between eating and sleeping, which is why it’s best to take your last meal (at least) 3-4 hours before your bedtime routine.
Do you also feel tired after eating a meal? You’re not alone! Especially, a meal full of carbohydrates and protein can make you feel sleepy and tired.
Note: Tryptophan is an essential amino acid found in protein and carbohydrate-rich foods and tryptophan helps your body to produce more and more serotonin. Some researchers believe that people feel tired after eating because their body is producing more serotonin. (it is a chemical that plays a significant role in such body functions as mood, sleep, digestion, nausea, wound healing, bone health, blood clotting, and sexual desire) Serotonin is also known to regulate mood and sleep cycles.
Ah, now you get it? Why the sleepiness right after a large good meal? It’s all because you have an uptake of tryptophan from all the food you just had. All common and nothing to worry about! Eating also causes your blood sugar levels to rise, which can lead to a fall in energy. Insulin is the player that unlocks sugar into your bloodstream, making you feel sleepy and tired. On the contrary, the problem with sleeping after a meal is that your body is most comfortable digesting food in an upright position, allowing it to absorb and break down food easily so unless you’re planning on sleeping standing, be ready for it to interfere with your digestion process, which can lead to several digestive issues and diseases. Being able to have a late-night dinner (as tempting as it sounds) may keep you awake and cause problems with your sleep and well-being. It’s best to avoid a huge meal before you go to sleep to prevent a huge interference in how your body and sleep cycle function!
Note: How long should you be waiting to sleep after having your meal? No matter how healthy your diet/ meal is, you’ll end up being distressed about the consequences if you don’t stop lying down or sleeping right after meals. It’s best to wait for 2-4 hours before you hit the bed after your dinner!
How Does Eating Before Sleep Affect You?
Guilty Pleasure Alert: Cookies or a Slice of Pizza!
Have you ever tried to sleep after eating a heavy meal while you can still feel the food in your stomach making nasty noises? Well, you haven’t felt it alone! We have all gone through such fulfilling (haha!) yet uncomfortable experiences. Most people have felt their eyelids get heavy shortly after hogging down a large meal. It’s natural for that to happen and post-meal sleepiness or tiredness is not a cause for concern if it doesn’t interfere with a person’s lifestyle and daily habits. (excessive sleepiness is sometimes caused by an underlying health problem or sleep disorder) However, eating a meal right before you go to bed can have unhealthy and unsought consequences, like weight, indigestion, heartburn, etc. Let’s dive deeper into how eating before sleep affects your body:
1. Unhealthy weight gain
Eating a large meal close to bedtime leads to disturbed sleep. There’s a simple logic to how your body gains weight- here’s what! Your body is going to gain weight when you take in more calories than you are burning off. No matter what you eat, it is going to be like that. Well, going to sleep directly after you eat means your body doesn’t get the chance to burn off any of those calories that you just took in. This will ultimately lead to a cycle of unhealthy weight gain!
Note: We all love late night munchies, don’t we? Be it a tub of ice cream or your favorite chips, it’s important to watch out for the kinds of snacks you munch on before sleeping! It’s best to stick to some yogurt or maybe easily digestible fruits.
*Myth: Avoid having fruits before bed!
*Fact check: when snacking before bed, fruits are less likely to interfere with sleep than other processed foods that people usually resort to.
Post dinner or a large meal, the body has to put in the energy to the digestive process, which can typically take up to hours but digestion usually slows down during sleep. It can put your body’s sleep schedule or pattern at odds with your stomach’s need for digestion, this is why you feel a certain hike in restlessness when you try to sleep post a big meal.
It also largely depends on what you consume which can impact your restful sleep at night. There’s research that eating (especially fatty foods) or drinking at night makes it harder to fall asleep. However, alcohol may make you feel sleepy but it prevents you from getting a night of restful or deep sleep, and cause you to wake up disrupted in the middle of the night.
Note: Research has found a concrete association between eating higher quantities of fat and calories and a decreased amount of sleep with disrupted cycles.
3. Indigestion and Acid reflux- UGH!
Who doesn’t like lying flat on their back right after a heavy yummy meal? We understandable, that the urge to lie down might feel irresistible at first but it isn’t the best decision. Digestion should be carried out in an upright position. When your stomach is filled with lots of food and gravity isn’t helping you anymore, your stomach acid tends to come up through the esophagus, giving you a burning chest and a blast of acid reflux.
Not all foods are the same when it comes down to late night noshing!
A lovely slice of pizza with a carbonated drink on the side, who doesn’t love it? We do too. However, lying down right after eating can give you the worst acid reflux of your life. The most common symptom of acid reflux is heartburn, painful burning in the middle of your chest, or heating sensation in the chest. Having these digestion problems is not pleasant, they can irritate and may prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.
Heavenluxe Tip: If you want to nosh on something at night, try eating a few pieces of kiwi. It’s rich in serotonin and antioxidants, both of which can considerably improve your sleep quality.
Postprandial Somnolence: Why Do You Feel Tired After a BIG Meal?
People mostly use the term “FOOD COMA” to describe the feeling of sleepiness, tiredness, or decreased level of energy after eating. However, the medical term for such a response is postprandial somnolence. Some symptoms of postprandial somnolence may be:
- drowsiness or sleepiness
- low energy levels
- lack of focus or concentration
Have you ever eaten a meal and a few hours later, you experience a wave of sleepiness sweeping over your body? It’s normal to experience such fatigue and tiredness after you have a big meal (especially) full of carbohydrates and protein.
Note: Frequency of such experiences post-meal matters. It’s not normal to frequently experience fatigue, brain fog, or other such symptoms after normal-sized meals.
There is a multiplicity of reasons as to why postprandial somnolence may occur. It usually occurs due to the body’s attempts to digest food or larger than usual amounts of food you consume. After a meal, large quantities of blood are moved to the gastrointestinal tract to facilitate digestion and to help absorb nutrients to target cells and tissues.
This process reroutes blood away from the brain and some scientists argue that the rerouting of blood away from the brain to the digestive organs alleviates sleepiness and tiredness.
The process of digestion shifts the body out of the “fight, flight, or freeze” SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM state and sets us into the “rest and digest” PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM state. Many scientists believe that such a shift may be responsible for post-meal sleepiness. Although large meals can cause such tiredness, eating small meals may be able to mitigate the intensity of parasympathetic activation.
How to Prevent a Food Coma:
Is There Anything to Worry About?
Whatever may be the reason behind a “food coma”, you can take some simple steps to avoid feelings of lethargy and tiredness after meals. Here’s how to prevent it.
- Going for a walk after eating
- Balance your meals: balance high-carb meals with fat and protein or fat to help stabilize your blood sugar
- Take a power nap in the afternoon
- Eating smaller portions more often (stabilized energy levels)
- Stick to a healthy sleep schedule
Eating slow is the key- chew, chew, and chew!
It gives your body a chance to transition from the hormone ghrelin (the hormone that is released when your stomach is empty to signal your brain that it's time to eat) over to leptin (the hormone that helps inhibit or prevent hunger and regulate energy balance)
- Increase fruits and veggies intake
- Drink loads and loads of water- Stay hydrated!
If you find yourself very frequently fatigued after having a meal and is recurring. It is best to schedule a visit with your doctor to check for any thyroid and adrenal issues, allergies, and nutrient deficiencies.
Tips to Sleep Like a Baby:
After Noshing on a Huge Meal!
1. Give yourself time: Try waiting at least 3-4 hours before going to bed so that your body has some time to devote to digestion.
2. Avoid carbonated liquids but stay HYDRATED: After a filling meal, you may want to avoid drinking water but it’s essential to stay hydrated and avoid carbonated beverages to prevent yourself from any gastric-related problems.
3. Prevent Acid Reflux! Try lying on your left or Elevate your head by 6 inches/ 15 cm: These two methods can help you prevent heartburn and acid reflux.
4. Try some physical activity: Go for a walk, stretch it out, or simply sweat it out! (Just don’t overdo it) It can help you get better with digestion.
5. Alter your bedroom to make yourself more comfortable: Make your room a comfortable space for you to sleep in. The darker, quieter, and cooler you can keep your bedroom, the better your chance of calming yourself to sleep.
Note: Maybe you can just get a bedsheet that is cooling and comforting, like Tencel™ to make your work easier!
6. Say NO to bedtime caffeine and other stimulants: Caffeine can extensively hamper your ability to fall asleep with its power to cut sleep down.
7. Get into loose pyjamas and jump on your super cooling and breathable Tencel™ Sheet!
Heavenluxe Tip for you: Avoiding large meals, reading, listening to music, or relaxing before bed with a hot bath or deep breathing can help you fall asleep faster and better. Happy sleeping!