Well, our pancreas produces insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. A heavy meal leads to a higher production of insulin which spikes our blood sugar levels. An increase in insulin results in more sleep hormones being produced by our body, which eventually get converted into serotonin (the key hormone that stabilizes our mood) and melatonin (a hormone that is produced in response to darkness) in our brain. This can ultimately induce sleepiness.
Furthermore, the number of carbohydrates we eat at lunch can also affect how sluggish we feel afterward. For instance, carbohydrate-containing foods like bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes stimulate the production of serotonin, which can also cause us to feel sleepy.
Other factors that might contribute to your daytime sleepiness are irregular sleeping patterns at night or reduced amounts of physical activity. However, you can certainly manage your post-lunch sluggishness by changing a few day-to-day habits. Here are some effective tips that will help you control your drowsiness during the day.
1. Don’t sit. Take a walk.
If you tend to feel drowsy after lunch, then don’t sit back down and try to resume your work right after your meal. Take a short break of 10-15 minutes and go for a brisk walk on your premises. If that’s not an ideal option during the daytime, you can even climb up and down the steps for a few minutes.
This short exercise will help increase the oxygen levels in your bloodstream and give you a much-needed boost of energy. Furthermore, a 10-minute walk also helps promote blood circulation around the body and the brain and thus reduces the risk of your post-meal slump.
2. Eat smaller meals throughout the day
Eating smaller, more frequent meals across the day is another great way to fight off sleepiness after lunch. Firstly, it slows down digestion and can help keep your blood sugar levels steady as you will be hungry more often. Moreover, a large meal requires more energy to digest and can easily lead to sluggishness by slowing down digestion. Having a small lunch with mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks in between will not only prevent you from feeling tired, but also from feeling bloated and uncomfortable, which can often happen after you have a heavy meal.
3. Keep drinking water
Are you drinking sufficient water throughout the day? During the winters, especially, we don’t feel that thirsty and our water intake goes down considerably. This can lead to dehydration which, in turn, can cause fatigue, low mood, and low energy levels, as well as affect your ability to think. This is why you must keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.
Drinking 8-10 glasses of water daily should help you remain fresh and recharged. It will also ensure that your post-lunch slump remains in check because drinking enough water has been proven to help perk you up if you're feeling sluggish.
4. Say no to junk food
Avoid having foods that are rich in bad fats or high in sugar as they can increase sleepiness. That’s because they cause a short-lived but sharp spike in your blood glucose levels which drop sharply later, resulting in drowsiness.
You should try and have a lunch that’s rich in green vegetables as that can keep you more energized throughout the day. Natural foods that are high in fiber and protein like whole grains, legumes, and nuts, would also be helpful. Ideally, half your lunch plate should be full of non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, mushroom, etc.) and the remaining half should have whole grains (brown rice, millet, mushroom, etc.) or lean meat (beef, lamb, veal, pork, etc.). These can provide you with sufficient energizing irons, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates to make you remain alert and active throughout the day.
5. Pop some chewing gum
Chewing may help reduce tiredness and ensure increased alertness, according to a study published in the journal Physiology and Behaviour. So, popping a couple of chewing gums after lunch might not be a bad idea to keep yourself sharp. When you are chewing gum, your body feels like you are constantly in action. This helps you maintain energy levels and also makes you regain them if you lose them after having a daytime meal.
Of course, you need to have chewing gums in moderation as going overboard with them may reverse the effects. Chewing on a mint-flavored gum will be the best, primarily because of its refreshing taste.
6. Don't skip breakfast
You’ve probably heard many times that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That is not a myth. A healthy breakfast kick-starts your metabolism and helps you burn harmful calories all day long. Also, having a filling breakfast can provide you with enough energy to remain active and focused for long periods of time. Health experts also say that eating a proper breakfast can also help reduce tiredness later in the day.
When we wake up, the blood sugar level our body needs to function properly usually remains low. If our body doesn’t get the required fuel at the start of the day, we are more than likely to feel drained of energy by lunchtime. Hence, you must never skip breakfast as it sets the energy standard for the rest of the day. Moreover, skipping breakfast would make you hungrier by lunchtime and you are likely to end up overeating which, as we mentioned, contributes to the sluggish feeling.
7. Spend some time in natural light
Are you surrounded by dim lighting during the day time? That might be one of the factors making you feel sleepy after lunch. When the light is dim, the body starts producing the sleep hormone melatonin which causes you to feel more tired. Spending some time in bright natural light during the daytime could make you feel more alert. Natural light is also known to stimulate brain regions that regulate mood. Thus, try and get some natural light during the first half of the day whenever you can to keep yourself awake post-lunch.
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