How to stop feeling sleepy after eating a meal?

Apr, 15, 2019

Feeling tired, or having difficulty concentrating, after a meal is relatively common. A person may feel particularly tired, depending on what, when, and how much they ate.

Feeling tired after a meal can be frustrating, especially after lunch, when a person may need to be alert.

A drop in energy during the day can be particularly dangerous for people who work in risky conditions, such as those who operate machinery or vehicles.

2017 study of the effects of eating on the performance of night shift workers found that those who ate at night performed worse and were more sleepy at 4 a.m. than those who had not eaten.

The following strategies can help prevent tiredness after a meal:

  • Eat little and often. Rather than eating big meals, eat smaller meals and snacks every few hours to keep up energy levels. A piece of fruit or a handful of nuts should be enough to cure an energy dip. People who eat larger lunches may experience more of an afternoon slump than those who eat less at midday. Foods rich in protein and carbohydrates can make people feel sleepier than other foods (avoid salmon, poultry, eggs, spinach, soy products, cheese, pasta, rice etc).
  • Get good-quality sleep. A person who gets enough sleep at night is less likely to experience a significant post-lunch energy dip.
  • Go for a walk. Getting light exercise during the day, especially after eating, can help people feel less tired.
  • Take a short nap during the day.
  • Try bright-light therapy. Authors of a 2015 study found that exposing people to bright light after lunch reduced tiredness.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol with meals. Alcohol can make people feel more tired.