Sleepy After Eating? 5 Ways to Re-energise Yourself

Eating greasy food, lack of water and having insufficient sleep will make you feel sluggish throughout the day. Consider following these steps to prevent feeling sleepy after eating.

Woman falling asleep while holding a cup of coffee with a plate of chocolate cookies at the side

Whether you are working in an office, a stay-at-home parent or a student, sometimes you can’t escape feeling sluggish after a heavy lunch. A condition loosely known as ‘food coma’, researchers share that your body is constantly on alert when you’re hungry and works in the opposite direction when you are not. This is why you feel sleepy after eating, as your body is off alert mode. 

Nevertheless, a healthy routine can get you feeling better throughout the day and thankfully, there are plenty of ways to do this. 

1. Work Out Regularly  

A group of young people practising Qigong in the morning by the lake
Practicing Qigong can improve blood circulation and qi or energy flow, so you won’t feel sleepy after eating.

Exercising in the morning before food is a great way to burn off stored fats in your system, get your heart rate up, and wake up your mind and body. 

If you have the time, going for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or even a short stroll after breakfast is an excellent way to get moving.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners recommend practising Qigong in the morning. This Chinese workout is slow-moving but involves dynamic movements. It’s designed to get your blood and qi (vital energy) flowing while restoring peace and harmony to your mind, body and soul. 

Qigong is also a great exercise to help you focus on deep breathing techniques, which can improve concentration when you’re at home or work. However, if going outside is a challenge, open your windows for better airflow into your home and do some easy home workouts.

By doing so, your mind and body will feel awake throughout the day, and you are unlikely to feel sluggish after lunch. 

2. Don’t Skip Breakfast  

People tend to skip breakfast for many reasons – rushed mornings, not feeling hungry and different types of fasting. It goes without saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it’s the one thing that fuels you up throughout the day.

If you are not a breakfast person, you will most likely eat a heavy lunch, which will bring on lethargy or fatigue later in the afternoon, hence you’ll feel sleepy after eating. Try and have a light (and healthy) breakfast consisting of whole grains, fruits, and some protein to keep your blood sugar levels consistent.

3. Get Enough Sleep  

According to TCM practitioners and Western medicine, your body functions to eliminate toxins when you are asleep. Sleep deprivation will cause toxins to accumulate in your body, and that can cause fatigue during the day, especially after lunch.

If you can’t get enough sleep at night, take a short afternoon nap or a power nap after eating. That can help restore your energy levels and allow you to concentrate better throughout the day. However, limit your naps to only 15 to 20 minutes. Napping for hours can potentially make you more tired. 

On the other hand, if you find it difficult to sleep early at night or fall asleep easily, then try to meditate before bed or find something to relax your mind at night. In any case of insomnia, you should consult your doctor. 

According to TCM practitioners, getting enough rest can cultivate your yin (passive energy). When you can, especially in the evenings, do some quiet reading, enjoy nature or even take your dog for a walk to calm your mind.

4. Choose Your Food Wisely  

Now comes the golden question: what should you eat to prevent food coma? What you decide to consume during the day will play a significant role in your concentration, especially after lunch.

Deep-fried fast food, white rice and bread, pasta, and greasy finger food will slow down your metabolism, and you will feel sleepy after eating them. These foods might taste extra scrumptious when you’re super hungry, but they will also delay your body’s ability to process carbohydrates. In TCM, foods like these can cause dampness in your body, making you feel extra tired, lose concentration and feel sluggish.  

Also, eating foods high in carbohydrates and sugar will release more insulin in your body, which is produced by the pancreas. The more insulin your body has, the more blood sugar it needs to absorb, creating an imbalance and eventually, causing disease.  

Instead, opt for healthier choices like salads and grilled, roasted or steamed meats that are not too greasy. As for carbs, opt for less starchy rice like basmati, brown rice, and whole grains. 

5. Use Chinese Herbs  

Herbs are often used in TCM to reduce fatigue while increasing energy. For instance, Astragalus root(huang qi, 黄芪) can help boost your qi, nourish blood, and strengthen the Spleen. You can add them to your soup or brew them as tea. 

Ginseng is another Chinese herb that can strengthen your qi (vital energy). Keep in mind that different types of ginseng address different needs. Panax ginseng embodies warming particles suitable for cold and weak body constitutions, while American ginseng (hua qi shen, 花旗参) is more cooling, ideal when you feel heaty, have inflamed skin, and experience constant constipation. 

Although some herbs and supplements can help with concentration, you should still watch what you eat during lunch to improve your overall health and concentration throughout the day. In addition, always consult a TCM physician before using any type of herbs. 

Ginseng root on a tray next to a teapot, a cup of tea and herbs around it
Ginseng tea can help strengthen your qi and keep you feeling awake and energetic.

If you often feel sleepy after eating or tend to get the afternoon slumps after a heavy meal, it’s time to change the way you eat and what you eat on a daily basis. A well-balanced diet, healthy lifestyle habits, and exercise definitely help to restore your energy levels and improve concentration during the day.

References

  1. Medical News Today. 2020. Why do people feel tired after eating? [online] [Accessed 15 Feb 2022] 
  2. Very Well Health. 2022. Sleepiness after eating lunch. [online] [Accessed 1 April 2022] 
  3. Healthline. 2020. Why Do I Feel Tired After Eating? [online] [Accessed 1 April 2022] 
  4. Hindawi. 2014. Qigong Exercise Alleviates Fatigue, Anxiety, and Depressive Symptoms, Improves Sleep Quality, and Shortens Sleep Latency in Persons with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome-Like Illness. [online] [Accessed 1 April 2022] 
  5. National Library of Medicine. 2010. Traditional Chinese Medicine for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. [online] [Accessed 1 April 2022] 
  6. Americal Botanical Council. 2010. Traditional Chinese Medicine Used for Treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. [online] [Accessed 1 April 2022] 

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