Sleeping After Eating: Good or Bad?
There is a ton of conflicting advice regarding whether or not you should sleep after eating. Some say a nap is just the thing so you’ll feel refreshed and ready to go, while others warn that sleeping after eating can lead to weight gain and other problems. So, how do you know what to believe, especially when sometimes it’s experts on the matter who seem to disagree?
To determine whether it’s good or bad to sleep after eating, you have to first understand how the body functions regarding sleep cycles as well as eating and digestion. While you don’t have to be an expert on biology or a nutritionist, this is the sort of information everyone should be equipped with to better care for their bodies and live a happier, healthier life anyway. Let’s explore first why you feel sleepy after you eat so you have a better grasp on what your body is doing while it digests.
Time for Siesta
It happens to the best of us – we’ve been working hard all morning and gotten hungry, eaten a good, solid, healthy lunch (or maybe not so healthy), and then instantly regretted it. Your momentum goes down, your drive takes a hit, and you have a hard time keeping your eyes open, regardless of the fact that you actually got eight hours of sleep last night. You just can’t stay awake, and you find yourself hitting the coffee machine or taking a lap around the office to try and recover.
First, there is nothing wrong with you – this is absolutely normal and has a lot to do with how your body works. This is actually a result of your body going into full force digestive mode. How does this make you sleepy?
During the day, you have blood flowing in a regulated fashion to all your organs. However, after you finish eating, your brain signals that it’s time to direct that blood flow away from most of your organs and only into the organs of the digestive system. Red blood cells are required to help digest that food, and the more of them your brain directs to the process, the faster your metabolism will process the fuel your body needs and get your energy back on track.
However, in the meantime, all the other organs of your body are blood deprived, including your brain (and you thought sleep deprivation was bad!), which leads to lethargy and a fuzzy head. This makes you drowsy, and you’ll find it difficult to stay awake until the process slows and blood – rich with the digested nutrients – begins to flow back to your brain and other organs.
So, in Europe, many countries have siesta – the 2 or 3 hour break after lunch during which many businesses shut down and people nap. But the question remains whether or not this is a healthy decision. Let’s consider the idea that sleeping after eating causes you to gain weight, and then we’ll examine other issues that may be of concern.
Weight Gain and Sleep
The direct correlation of going to sleep after eating immediately is completely false. While there are other aspects that relate the two, there is a different truth to any weight gain. Here’s the hard facts:
- It doesn’t matter when or how much you sleep in terms of weight gain and loss – with the exception of the fact that it helps your body maintain homeostasis for better metabolic processing if you get the proper amount of sleep.
- It does matter how much activity you have during waking hours, since weight gain is caused by consuming more calories than you use. Even if you consume 3,000 calories right before going to bed, you won’t gain weight if you’ve burned all the calories you’ve taken in during the day already, including that last 3,000.
- Your body can digest more easily when you’re awake, so it might take longer for food to digest if you sleep, and this can affect the feelof the weight on your body.
Of course, weight gain isn’t the only reason to be concerned about going to sleep after eating. In fact, there are still plenty of reasons to avoid the habit, most of which have direct health risks involved.