Why do we get sleepy after we eat?

sleeping dog - A dog taking a nap sitting up against pillows.
United States
August 16, 2009 11:27am CST
Have you ever noticed that after you eat a big meal that you start to yawn and the eyes feel heavy? I have noticed that I do that alot. It doesn't matter when I eat, it seems that that the sleepy train tries to get me come aboard. This has created a problem with me here lately. I started back to college and I ain't a young person and when I sit down to read after supper the sleepness starts to come on me. I have to get up and move around for awhile to get over that feeling. Can anyone tell me why this happens after I eat a meal?
6 people like this
17 responses
@webearn99 (1742)
• India
16 Aug 09
Yes it does happen, especially if the meal was of a high carbohydrate nature. There have been a lot of studies about this and it has been established as a fact. The reason is the blood sugar level in the body, which in a normal person rises as the food is digested. This triggers the sleepiness. About half an hour later when the digestive organs such as liver, pancreas release enzymes for digestion and assimilation, there is a release of energy and you come back to normal alertness.
• United States
16 Aug 09
Oh thanks! I now kinda understand the reasons. I will just have to be a little active after that meal for about 30 minutes to catch that energy before sitting down to read my books. I was really having problems with that here lately. Thanks for your quick comment.
1 person likes this
@webearn99 (1742)
• India
16 Aug 09
My pleasure!
1 person likes this
@AmbiePam (85975)
• United States
16 Aug 09
I didn't want to answer if someone had already got it right. And you did. Apparently, tryptophan in turkey is why we get sleepy after eating it.
• United States
16 Aug 09
This happens to me also when I eat a big meal. I think that after you eat a big meal a good amount of your blood is rushing to your stomach and digestive system to help you process the food. If you need to stay awake in order to read for school you could try eating smaller meals just frequently instead of all at once. Or have a healthy snack, then do all your reading and eat afterwards. I don't know what kind of schedule you have so this may not be possible.
1 person likes this
• United States
16 Aug 09
No this could be possible. I just need to rearrange my thoughts and sit down for reading at different times. I kinda have a lot of time to pick out the right time to read. I would rather pick out a good time,instead of eating healthy.
@cream97 (29087)
• United States
10 Jul 10
Hi, rosepedal64. The only reason that I can think of is that, the meal that you have eaten was a very fulfilling meal. It sat on your stomach and it is going to take a while to digest. As you relax your body gets sleepy. I am the same way too. I always get so sleepy after I eat a big dinner or meal.
• United States
11 Jul 10
Yeah I do the same and so does hubby. I think it might a little on the lazy side as well...LOL..I managed to fight the sleepy deal and stay awake. If I didn't then I would never go to sleep at night.
• India
16 Aug 09
We feel very sleepy due to the excess heat produced to burn the food. This is what i feel, at times it is also because you have loaded your self a lot.
• United States
16 Aug 09
That probably is very true. I do have the tendency to over due the intake of certain food. But oh my gosh, the food taste so good. Speaking of I hear the dinner bell ringing for the Sunday Lunch menu. I think I will watch my intake this time and see what happens.
• India
17 Aug 09
Even i feel the same. Its sometimes possible but not all the times.
@cctvzc (36)
• China
17 Aug 09
Hi~~~Thanks for this discussion. I also had the same experience sometimes.I think this is a human instinct.
• United States
17 Aug 09
If that what is is instinct, then I really don't want that part. I will have to agree with one of the other comments, it does seem to be worse in the winter months. I just ate some frenchtoast and Im getting sleepy sitting here. I will have to move around for a little bit to let this sleepness wear off. Thanks for your commnet
• South Korea
17 Aug 09
I don't know why it happens. Everyones answers sound good to me. I found that it is even worse for me in the summer. So, it must have something to do with the heat and also the hot meals. So, I've shifted my meal plan in the summer. I only eat sandwiches or salads for lunch. I used to eat a big lunch and then bam---within 30 minutes I'd be looking for my bed or sofa. I found a few ways to help me get over this. If I just can't resist a nap, I sit in a chair and dose off for a bit---so I don't go into a deep sleep. When I really want to fight the urge to nap, I either go outside and walk around a bit or a I take a quick shower. I found if I'm active after I eat then the urge to sleep usually goes away within an hour. But if I sit in front of the computer or TV---I'm off to dreamland
• United States
17 Aug 09
Yes that is differently me. I have to get up and move around or I want to nap. After I eat,usually within 30 minutes I am looking around for the couch. It only takes about 10 minutes and Im done. The urge is gone.
@Hatley (163781)
• Garden Grove, California
17 Aug 09
rosepeda hi hatley here its a chemical in protein food'\ called melatonin that makes you sleepy. that is why doctors often tell you to eat a small snack at bedtime of meat like turkey and bread,it will make you sleepy. melatonin is often used to help people sleep better.
• United States
17 Aug 09
This is just so wild to me. That is actually coming from the type of foods that I eat. I will watch what I eat and when I eat to try to stay alert. I will start this method today.
@neildc (17239)
• Lapu-Lapu City, Philippines
17 Aug 09
maybe we feel sleepy when we ate a lot of food our system has to digest. have you tried eating less and you still feel sleepy?
• United States
17 Aug 09
No I haven't trying to eat less. I will now though. With the comments that I have gotten, it is boiling down to the types of food that I eat and when I eat them. I need to eat less and more at the same time. At first that didn't make any sense then now it does.
• Philippines
16 Aug 09
This is due to your stomach having fill enough of food that you really feel heavy and because of this feeling you have a desire to take a nap. This usually happen when you sit longer after you eat and never try to move from your seat. I also observe myself if I get too tired i sleep easily. Also when i am already feel sleepy I even sleep immediately forgetting even to brush my teeth which I find very funny. Eating makes you sleepy because your body feel heavy after eating and it feels relax that it invites you to sleep
• United States
16 Aug 09
Yeah I agree with that. The belly full and it wants to take a nap. That is what happens with me. I get full or too full and it is seems that the only answer is to take a long nap. Sometimes I would be happy to take a short nap even. Something else is if Im out in the sun for awhile then I need a nap after I come back in.
@cbjones (1147)
• United States
16 Aug 09
Dude, reading this post made me feel a little sleepy. I guess that's the power of suggestion. Someone mentioned the heat used to cook meals. That may in fact be true, because warm milk has been used to help people get to sleep when suffering from insomnia. Processed food is pull unnatural junk, so maybe it's that as well. It could also be your intake. one large meal can zap you of your energy, but several small meals throughout the day won't have tath same adverse affect.
• United States
16 Aug 09
I can see this to be true also. Just like you said about the warm milk thing. I will try to eat smaller meals and then eat the main one of the evening and see if this will work out better. I really need to get ahold of this thing. I need to study for my classes. Im older and need more reading time than the average bear.
@Shery32 (423)
• Saudi Arabia
16 Aug 09
Well for me I don't really know the reason but I think it might be because all oxygen goes to the stomach or so but then I stumble upon this site which tells why, you may check it as I don't want to just copy a site as it would not be fare :D Here is the site: http://linkturtle.com/l/14822 Happy MyLotting
• United States
16 Aug 09
Oh thanks! I will go check it out and see if that is my problem. I also heard that it is a protein thingy. That the body doesn't have enough protein and makes the food just sit and store for later use. I haven't found out if that is true. Maybe someone will know.
• Philippines
16 Aug 09
it depends on how many we eat. that's why i stop eating during luch because it get's me sleepy and it's like the post falling and standing up, like am about to fall down anytime with only one lucky punch left.some times, i drink energy drink or coffee
• United States
16 Aug 09
Yeah I have been doing the coffee thing too. I was on my way to ridding the coffee intake and now this starts with me. Now I have to have coffee to get me thru. I have to eat or I get all shakey. Responding to all these comments, I'm getting sleepy just thinking about the sleep thingy. That just ain't right.
• China
17 Aug 09
Hello, maybe you feel tired out because of the whole process of a big meal. You know, we are supported to be happy and talkative and active at that time. It is different from a more casual and relaxing small meal.
• United States
17 Aug 09
I probably do eat too much on a daily basis. I know that the food I eat isn't good for me. I am a heavy person and should only be eating the right food at the right time. I am going to start on the small meals several times a day and see if that helps. I will keep you updated on my progress.
@fg92416 (19)
• China
17 Aug 09
Well, after meal, blood concentrate on your stomach; Therefore, your brain lack of OXYGEN to lead to you fell sleepy. In addition, it is time that you sleep is not sufficient. Thus i suggest that you should accustom to sleep earlier.
• United States
17 Aug 09
I do get the average amount of sleep. Im always in bed no later than midnight and I am a early riser. I try to stay active as possible. Although I do not exerccise the way that I should and I know that I don't eat the way that I should for sure. Im learning, thanks to mylotters.
@Mitraa (3184)
• India
10 Aug 10
Yes Rose, this is due to the fact that after taking our meal, our stomach requires more blood to well digest the eaten food! So our other organs receive the lesser blood supply! For this reason we feel sleepy and laziness with yawning, after we digest ine fsrtYes Krist, life is really very precious and every moment of it must be well plannrd for a worthy living! Nothing is more imporant than the worth of time! Time only combines with life to make life-time that is the main resource of a person! So, it is a matter of great concern that time makes many changes and time makes every solution both for poor and rich people's lives! I always appreciate every moment as well as everyday I live!! Have always a nice living!!
@rajupaul (973)
• India
16 Aug 09
Dear friend As I know After meal the all nerve are activated and want to take rest. If you know the right answer I request please give the answer. Bye.
• United States
16 Aug 09
Then my nerves really need a lot of rest everyday. I really don't know the answer. Im trying to find that out here on mylot. I have also had good success for getting the right answers for my concerns and questions. Keep tabs on this discussion and Im sure we will get the correct answer.
• United States
9 Jul 10
It's the amount of insulin your body (the pancreas) releases and how your cells respond to the insulin. Insulin allows the blood sugar to pass through the cell wall. When your blood sugar drops, the sleepies and being tired gets you. Some people have cells more sensitive to the insulin and thus are tired after every meal. Reducing the amount you eat helps a few but not all. I fall asleep almost every time I eat (morning, noon, and night). I usually will sleep 20 - 30 minutes. Then I have energy and very good memory and response skills. Fighting the sleep makes me a bear. If I "nibble" all through the day, I won't get tired. If I eat a few grapes, an apple, and a banana, then I'm gonna need that cat nap. Im that sensitive.