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Most of us have felt our eyes become heavy shortly after a delicious meal. Have you ever been curious about why you seem to crash after you eat?
Multiple potential causes for that after-lunch or after-dinner slump exist – and it’s more serious than occasional post-holiday meal drowsiness.
The technical term for extreme fatigue after eating is postprandial somnolence, as postprandial means “after eating,” while somnolence means “sleepiness.”
In some cases, the self-described food coma you may fall into after a meal may interfere with work, school, or your social life.
In some cases, this dip in energy can cause a drop in productivity or even raise your risk of accidents overall.
Identifying and understanding all of the potential causes of post-meal tiredness is vital in order to reduce extreme fatigue after eating.
One possible cause of your post-meal slump? A hidden food intolerance.
Food allergies and intolerances are oftentimes the cause of uncomfortable digestive sensations like cramping.
However, a food intolerance can also make you feel exhausted after eating.
For example, if you unknowingly have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity, you may feel tired after eating foods that contain gluten due to the allergic reaction it causes.
Therefore, the food you eat is unable to fuel you properly due to the allergy, causing tiredness.
If you suspect that certain foods make you feel more tired than others, visit a gastroenterologist to determine your risk for gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, or other types of food allergies.
A dip in blood sugar after eating is also responsible for extreme fatigue after a meal.
After you eat foods high in sugar or refined carbs, insulin levels skyrocket.
A few hours later, levels fall. This is sometimes called a “blood sugar crash,” as it causes fatigue, brain fog, and grogginess.
That said, symptoms of a blood sugar drop may vary from person to person, and chronic exhaustion after eating may be due to another condition relating to blood sugar at play.
If fatigue after eating becomes chronic and persistent, visit your doctor to rule out conditions related to poor blood sugar regulation like diabetes.
The types of foods you choose to eat might also affect how severe drowsiness may hit you after a meal.
Ever notice that certain foods make you feel more sluggish than others? It’s not just in your head.
Foods that are high in tryptophan, an amino acid, cause you to feel slow and drowsy after eating. In fact, tryptophan content in turkey is responsible for the age-old post-Thanksgiving meal nap.
Other foods rich in tryptophan include egg whites, oats, chicken, fish, tofu, chocolate, nuts, seeds, and milk.
Foods high in protein may cause the same response, as they require more energy for the body to digest and break down into fuel.
@somnifix Extreme #fatigue after eating? 🍩🍔🌮 3 causes of your post meal slump include a hidden #foodintolerance , #bloodsugar dips , & certain foods (such as those high in #tryptophan ♬ Bloody Mary - Lady Gaga
Meals high in fat and low in carbohydrates are also proven to cause drowsiness.
In one study, participants who ate meals high in fat and low in carbs felt more tired compared to those who ate meals high in carbs and low in fat.
Therefore, it may be best to opt for foods high in fat later in the evening to avoid post-lunch drowsiness.
If you drink alcohol with a meal, your drink might be the culprit for your low energy after eating.
A few glasses of wine with your meal seems innocent enough, right? In theory, alcohol might be the root origin of your extreme fatigue after consuming food.
Alcohol is a known sedative, so it makes sense that it leads to feelings of low energy and sluggishness.
When you drink alcohol, the central nervous system is suppressed, leading to feelings of sleepiness.
Although this sedative effect doesn’t last very long, it can affect your sleep cycle if you consume alcohol too close to bedtime.
As a result, you won’t experience very restful sleep. Instead, sleep becomes fragmented.
If you choose to drink, stick to one or two per day and avoid consuming alcohol too close to bedtime to avoid circadian rhythm disruptions.
Our circadian cycles exist to provide a rhythm to wake and sleep patterns, and disruptions in our circadian rhythm might cause unexpected fatigue.
Over time, these disruptions lead to sleep debt.
Feeling extreme fatigue after eating may not be fully connected to the food you choose to eat (or even when you choose to eat it).
It could simply be because you’re suffering from extreme sleep debt.
When you don’t get an adequate amount of sleep over several nights, sleep deprivation builds and sleep debt rises.
You may think you can “catch up” or pay off sleep debt by sleeping in over the weekend, but the truth is, this only throws off your sleep cycles even further.
Much like monetary debt, sleep debt can only be fully paid off by establishing consistent habits over time.
Moreover, sleeping in for one or two hours over the weekend won’t make much difference if you’re short on sleep for the whole week.
Most of us need around eight hours of sleep each night. If you’ve only gotten five or six each weeknight, you’ve racked up a sleep debt of ten to fifteen hours in one week.
Oversleeping on the weekend isn’t the answer, as oversleeping is just as harmful as being sleep-deprived.
That said, correcting your sleep patterns and routines while making quality sleep a priority is part of the key to reducing extreme fatigue after eating (and in general).
Now that we’ve covered potential causes of sleepiness after a meal, we must turn out attention to solutions that help put a stop to the post-meal slump.
Aside from testing for food intolerances and blood sugar imbalances, try to pay off sleep debt by correcting your circadian rhythm.
This ensures that you aren’t feeling added fatigue due to poor sleep hygiene.
Opt for a walk or light yoga after eating (and before bed) to wind down, saving intense workouts for the morning time rather than the evening.
Expose your eyes to sunlight upon waking, which can help keep sleep patterns in check. Bright light signals to your body to suppress melatonin production while boosting serotonin.
Then, later in the day, your brain and body metabolize serotonin into melatonin, a well-known sleep hormone, signalling that it’s time to naturally drift to sleep once bedtime hits.
Finally, establish and adhere to a nighttime routine that helps set the tone for sleep.
Read, take a bath, meditate, or do some breathing exercises rather than stimulating activities like working or watching television.
Once you’ve established a nightly routine, stick to the same bedtime (even on the weekends). This ensures that you’ll get the proper amount of sleep you need while keeping your sleep cycles in tune.
Over time, your nighttime wind-down routine will become as simple to integrate as brushing your teeth. However, building uninterrupted, un-fragmented sleep depends on your airway habits.
It sounds outlandish that breathing patterns could be connected to sleep quality, right?
However, the way we breathe directly affects our well-being – and that includes our sleep.
Breathing through the mouth leads to gasping, choking, and interrupted breathing as you rest. As a result, snoring follows, keeping both you and your sleeping partner awake.
Nasal breathing prevents open-mouth snoring by keeping airway tissues from falling backward as they do during mouth breathing, obstructing our breathing at night.
Deep, snore-free sleep follows suit. You’ll also wake up more rested than ever by nasal breathing at night thanks to the parasympathetic activation that nasal breathing provides.
Moreover, nitric oxide produced by the nose acts as a vasodilator that reduces stress all while the nose warms, humidifies, and filters the air you breathe.
But how do you nasal breathe if you’re asleep? Mouth tape offers a gentle lip seal that prevents mouth breathing, promotes nasal breathing, and blocks out snoring all while you snooze.
SomniFix offers a gentle, non-irritating lip seal made from recycled, hypoallergenic materials. What’s more, our Strips provide a patented breathing vent that allows for emergency overnight mouth breathing.
Tape your post-meal fatigue away by building solid sleep habits with the help of SomniFix!
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