Check Up: Always feeling sleepy after lunch

October 22, 2018

Jomo is not Jamaican. He is studying here at one of our universities and doing exams at this time. He knows he is worn down with all the work and studying he is doing, but he just can’t stay get up after eating meals. He tries to get back to his work and tries to fight the drowsiness which occurs, but most of the time he just has to give in and take a nap. He asks Check Up what he can do to avoid this sleepiness after eating.

A bit of sleepiness after eating is fairly normal and is in fact experienced by most of us. Nothing to worry about.

Several factors contribute to post meal drowsiness and can worsen it or help lessen the problem.

- Your diet: Not all foods affect the body in the same way. High protein foods such as meat, spinach, soy, cheese, tofu and eggs contain the amino acid Tryptophan that is used to create a brain hormone, serotonin, can result in a post-meal drowsiness. Cherries affect hormones which can cause drowsiness, while carbohydrates cause a sudden rise in blood sugar which is followed by a subsequent fall in blood sugar levels which can also cause post-meal drowsiness. Ripe bananas contain minerals which tend to relax the body. Any one of the above foods could cause post-meal drowsiness, much less combining several of these foods at one meal as we often do. On the other hand, vegetables, whole grain foods and healthy fats promote and sustain energy.
Drinking a lot of water, avoiding a lot of sugar and eating frequent small meals will help to control the post meal droopiness.

- Sleeping habits: Not getting good, quality sleep will affect how you feel after eating a meal. If you’ve eaten and feeling relaxed and haven’t slept properly the night before, you are likely to feel sleepy. Stick to a regular sleep schedule to avoid creating stress and include regular exercise. If this isn’t possible right now, you can allow yourself a post-lunch nap to improve your alertness and physical performance during the remainder of the day.

- Physical activity: Exercise can keep you alert during the day. Regular exercise helps reduce fatigue and increases energy levels.

- Get a check-up. Make sure you are not anaemic or that there is no other illness lurking which needs attention!

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