Why do I fall asleep after I eat?

In this brief blog we will answer the query,”Why do I fall asleep after I eat?” We will look at various reasons that induce sleepiness after eating. We will also discuss how to avoid feeling sleepy and tired after eating.

Why do I fall asleep after I eat?

There are various reasons that might result in feeling sleepy after you eat in what is known as postprandial somnolence or food coma. Some of the reasons are consuming a big meal and eating a meal that is high in carbohydrates, fat and protein. 

Read further so as to better understand how the above bring feelings of being tired and sleepiness after eating.

What are the reasons that I feel sleepy after eating?

Consumption of a big meal

Most people usually complain of feeling sleepy after taking large and heavy meals. Studies have shown that meals that are high in nutrients such as protein and salt led to deeper post-meal sleep.

In another study that was conducted on men who ate pizza, it was found out that men who overeat had less energy and experienced more physical tiredness, sleepiness and lethargy in the four hours after consuming the pizzas.

On the other hand, those who consumed sufficient portions had no adverse effects.

Consumption of meals high in carbohydrates, fats and proteins

Meals that are high in carbs, fats and proteins have been associated with feelings of sleepiness. These nutrients influence sleepiness through a variety of ways. For instance, meals that contain a lot of carbs usually raise the levels of an amino acid known as tryptophan in the bloodstream which boosts levels of serotonin, a hormone that influences sleep.

Meals that contain a lot of protein may also induce sleep if they contain foods that have high amounts of tryptophan such as eggs, chicken, cheese, fish, milk, turkey and tofu.

A combination of high calorie, high fats and high carbohydrates foods usually cause the release of small proteins called cytokines which have been associated with fatigue.

Foods that have high levels of fats and proteins can also raise the levels of peptide YY and a hormone known as cholecystokinin which have both been associated with increasing feelings of sleepiness.

Changes in blood circulation

Food comas used to be associated with an increased flow of blood to the gut and a corresponding low blood flow to the brain. However this is not true because the body maintains blood flow even in strenuous situations such as when exercising when muscles require more blood.

It is therefore highly unlikely that blood flow to the gut diverts blood from the brain resulting in sleepiness. Some studies have even suggested that blood flow to the brain is boosted after having meals.

What can I do to prevent feeling sleepy and tired after eating?

Eat small portions of meal more often

Instead of consuming large meals, eat smaller meals and snacks much more regularly such as after a few hours so as to top up your energy levels. Snacking on a piece of fruit to some nuts comes in handy in preventing any energy dips.

Get enough rest and good quality sleep

People that sleep enough at night a minimum of 8 hours of sleep are less likely to experience the post-lunch energy dips.

Do some light exercise

Light exercises such as going for a walk during the day and especially after consuming a meal can assist in reducing feelings of tiredness.

Avoid taking alcohol and meal

When you take alcohol more so with meals it induces feelings of tiredness.

Nap during the day

Take a short power nap during the day, this helps in rejuvenating your body and you feel less tired and sleepy.

Try bright-light therapy 

Bright light therapy is considered a good treatment for people who have circadian rhythm sleep disorders. A study found that exposing people to bright lights after they have taken lunch was effective in lowering levels of tiredness.

You can learn more ways of preventing food comas by clicking this link.


In this brief blog we have answered the query,”Why do I fall asleep after I eat?” We have looked at various reasons that induce sleepiness after eating. We have also discussed how to avoid feeling sleepy and tired after eating.



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