- Posted August 19, 2013 by
How Not to Feel Drowsy After Lunch?
After eating a delicious lunch, many of us tend to fall into a slight afternoon stupor. That's why people in Spain often take siestas. To beat a case of the afternoon slump (or afternoon apathy syndrome as this post-lunch dip is sometimes called), it's important to pay attention to what you're eating, as well as making sure that you're giving yourself adequate care overall. Sustaining afternoon energy is really a combination of factors from good food to adequate sleep. In this article, you will find several practical means for overcoming drowsiness after lunch and finding more energy throughout your day.
Curb your caffeine intake after lunch. Although caffeine is renowned for its ability to improve our alertness, it can become a case of diminishing returns if you need to keep increasing the dosage because its effect has lessened over time. Needing to up the caffeine is unhealthy because you can easily end up having too much caffeine, crashing quickly after it wears off each time, and ultimately you risk developing a caffeine addiction. Switch to decaffeinated or non-caffeinated drinks to get you through the afternoon. Water is an excellent choice, as it is also important to keep well hydrated throughout the day. As an added bonus, it provides you with an excuse to stroll to the water cooler now and then.
Exercise. After eating, it is a good idea to get out and do some light exercise. Take a walk for a few blocks, do some basic stretches, use the stairs instead of the elevator, or do a few jumping jacks in the restroom — whatever you can think of that fits with your schedule and location. Light exercise after eating will help get your blood flowing and will help to ward off fatigue.
Eat healthy mid-afternoon snacks. Good snacks to reach for mid-afternoon are those that won't deplete your energy but will boost it. That means avoiding the temptation to fuel yourself on a chocolate bar and choosing instead a piece of fruit or wholegrain crackers.
Eat a good breakfast. Never skip this meal; it sets the energy standard for the rest of the day. Make healthy food choices such as wholegrain breads and cereals, fruits, and yogurt, to provide you with sustained energy for the morning. Eating breakfast helps you to feel less tempted to resort to unhealthy food choices at lunchtime and increases your physical and mental well-being throughout the day. A Cardiff University study showed that regular consumption of breakfast cereals can reduce the stress hormone cortisol, providing another good reason to start the day with healthy food.
Understand what it is that is probably making you feel sleepy after lunch. There are three main reasons for sleepiness post-lunch:
The food you have eaten is diverting your blood for the digestion process. While natural, depending on what you eat, this process can increase your energy levels, or it can cause sluggishness. The following steps will explain in detail which foods to choose for lunch and what to avoid. In particular, sugary foods increase the blood sugar levels more than normal, causing your pancreas to release insulin. In turn, the insulin triggers tryptophan, which gets converted into serotonin in your brain, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel sleepy.
You haven't had enough sleep. Lack of adequate sleep affects both your digestive system's effectiveness and your energy levels.
You are unfit, or you have an illness. If you aren't physically fit, if you're avoiding exercise, or if you have a medical condition or illness, your afternoon energy levels may be impacted negatively. Sometimes this can be remedied by getting in shape, but you will need to speak with your doctor about any underlying issues.
Watch what you eat. The contents of your lunch will have a large impact on your afternoon's energy levels. The following suggestions may help you to reduce post-lunch slumping.
Avoid fast food. Most fast food is junk food, packed full of fats, sugars, salts, preservatives, and flavor enhancers. It tastes great on the spot and it feels like an energy boost but it has filled you with calories that lack nutrients, and is a very unhealthy fuel for your body. Fast food will spend the rest of the afternoon letting you down with a thump and there is no coming up again.
Avoid sugar and flour. As delicious as buns, croissants, muffins, and cakes are, as well as a pasta meal, these are all energy slump-inducers in disguise. Gabe Mirkin, MD, recommends avoiding pastries, pasta, and baked goods if you want to stay awake, as their high flour and sugar content will bring on drowsiness. Choosing unprocessed over processed or refined foods is a guaranteed healthier way to feeling better after lunch.
Eat low-carb, high-protein food for lunch. You will feel more awake. Post-lunch drowsiness from a body flooded with insulin to process that carb-rich lunch you just ate can be prevented by eating carefully. Kristie Leong, MD, recommends avoiding potatoes, white rice, pasta, and any sugary foods (such as candy and desserts) because these cause a rapid rise in your insulin levels, which also increases the serotonin levels in your brain. Since serotonin is associated with sleep, it stands to reason that you'll soon be feeling drowsy. Instead favor the following food types:
Low-carb vegetable choices include: Sprouts, green beans, lettuce, mustard greens, radicchio, bok choy, sea vegetables, cabbage, mushrooms, radishes, celery, avocado, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, summer squash, zucchini, bamboo shoots, onions, tomatoes, artichokes, carrots, water chestnuts, pumpkin, etc.
Low-fat choices include: Beans, nuts, soy, and whole grains.
Eat less. A large meal takes more effort to digest. As a result, your blood is diverted to digest the meal properly, resulting in less oxygen and nutrition reaching your brain during the digestion process.
Skip the wine or beer with lunch. Unless it's a special occasion and the afternoon's already a write-off (those rare afternoons when the boss says you can all wander off home early because tomorrow's a celebration holiday), avoid having alcohol with lunch. Alcohol is a sedative and even one glass will leave you feeling fatigued for the remainder of the day.
Sleep adequately. Sleep is vital for good functioning. If you're not getting enough sleep at night, it makes sense that you'll start running out of energy by mid-afternoon. Be sure to get enough sleep. Avoid eating food that gives you indigestion through the night, and if you suffer from the need to get up and go to the bathroom during the night, ease up on drinking liquids close to bedtime.
Notice what habits make you sleepy in a "food/mood diary". Write down when you feel drowsy, what you ate, whether you had exercised or not, how well you slept the night before, and any other factors that might be involved. Do this over a week, and at the end of the week, analyze the data you have recorded. Look for patterns so that you can learn to avoid any habits that cause drowsiness problems for you.
See your doctor. If you're suffering from excessive drowsiness after eating lunch, even if you're taking the measures suggested above, it's important to see your doctor for a full checkup. There are medical conditions that can cause drowsiness, including iron or other nutrient deficiencies, insulin resistance or diabetes, hypoglycemia, or other medical problems. Diagnosis and treatment is something only your doctor can do.