Introduction

Imagine sailing through your day with energy that lasts into the night but still allows you to have a good night’s sleep. If you find yourself feeling tired after eating dinner, it may be time to look at some hidden culprits. In this article, I will get right into the science behind how your evening meal might quietly deplete your vitality. After years of research into nutrition’s impact on energy, especially for women over 40, I’ve discovered three unsuspecting dietary villains.

woman lying her head on a pillow on a sofa as she is Tired After Eating Dinner
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Lay off the Caffeine After Mid-Day

If you’re wondering about food to avoid for evening exhaustion levels look no further than our old friend caffeine. Beyond coffee, it lurks in chocolate and some teas, hindering melatonin production and affecting our sleep quality.

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Personally, I’ve experienced those restless nights after indulging in a late-night treat without realizing its caffeine content. It’s like a sneaky little disruptor hiding in unexpected places!

A woman enjoying coffee on the sofa, which will lead her to feeling TIRED AFTER EATING DINNER

Here are some things you can keep in mind: 

  • Being mindful of what we consume before bedtime can significantly affect how well we rest.
  • Opting for calming herbal teas or warm, non-dairy milk might be a better choice to promote relaxation and prepare our bodies for a restful night’s sleep.
  • Understanding these small details can truly transform our sleeping habits and overall well-being.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, caffeine affects sleep patterns, particularly in midlife women, making it harder to enjoy a restful night (Drake et al., 2013).

“Sleep is a necessity, and caffeine a luxury. Know when to indulge and when to withhold, for the mastery of sleep brings true vitality.”

– Matthew Walker

Is Sugar Your Adversary?

That tempting dessert after dinner spikes your glucose levels, leading to a crash. 

Research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that high sugar intake before bed can interfere with the deep, restorative stages of sleep, which are essential for feeling energized (St-Onge et al., 2016).

  • Night sweats
  • Ruminating thoughts 
  • Feeling tired but wired

Now, hear me out. . .I’m not telling you never to eat desserts after dinner. In fact, whenever a friend of mine comes over for dinner, we enjoy our meals, and then I consume ¼ of my piece of dessert and save the rest of my portion until the following day to eat at an earlier time. 

Yes, even though this tiny portion of dessert sometimes impacts the quality of my sleep, there are reasons why I still indulge once in a while. So, I would never tell anyone to cut out everything they enjoy eating, but if you’re always tired after eating dinner, consider being mindful when it comes to what and when you eat sugary desserts, which is always a good idea.

Time to Reduce Carbs?

Lastly, processed carbs are on the list. Similar to sugar, they lead to rapid spikes in blood glucose levels. 

Insights from the Sleep Health Journal have shown that diets high in processed carbs can significantly disrupt sleep quality, linking poor dietary choices to reduced sleep quality and energy in women over 40 (Gangwisch et al., 2015).

Conclusion

To combat these effects, consider reducing caffeine and high-sugar foods in the evening and opting for balanced meals that support stable blood sugar levels. I suggest adding in whole grains and lean proteins to help sustain energy and improve sleep quality.

Are you ready to lift the anchor and let your energy sail smoothly into the night? For more nutrition insights and actionable tips tailored for women over 40, check out my Everything Page.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why do I get so tired after eating dinner?


High-Carbohydrate and High-Fat Meals: Consuming meals high in carbohydrates and fats can lead to changes in blood sugar levels and the release of certain hormones, such as insulin, which affects energy levels. This is especially true for carbohydrate-rich meals, which can cause sleepiness and impair objective performance due to their impact on sleep disturbances (Wells et al., 1998; Sarrafizadeh et al., 2012; Cunliffe et al., 1997).

Meal Size and Composition: Larger meals and those high in specific macronutrients, like carbohydrates, can trigger an increase in serotonin and tryptophan production, promoting relaxation and drowsiness. Foods like pasta, rice, bread, and other high-carb options are particularly implicated (Reyner et al., 2012).

Circadian and Metabolic Factors: The body’s circadian rhythms can influence feelings of hunger and tiredness in the evening, independent of food intake. Moreover, consuming a significant portion of daily calories, mainly from carbohydrates, at dinner can lead to unfavourable metabolic outcomes, further exacerbating feelings of tiredness (Scheer et al., 2013; Li & Sun, 2022).
Psychological and Behavioral Factors: Poor sleep quality, unhealthy eating habits like consuming junk food or eating at odd times, and an individual’s psychological state, including stress and anxiety associated with night shifts, can disrupt circadian rhythms and contribute to feelings of fatigue after meals (Chand et al., 2021; Silva et al., 2017).

Why do I feel like sleeping after eating?

Postprandial somnolence, commonly known as the “food coma” or “after-dinner drowsiness,” is a state of sleepiness or lethargy that occurs after consuming a meal. This condition can be attributed to several physiological, psychological, and dietary factors:

Digestive Process: Eating triggers the digestive process, where blood flow is increased to the digestive tract, leading to a decrease in blood flow to other parts of the body, including the brain, which can cause feelings of tiredness.

Nutrient Impact: Certain nutrients, particularly carbohydrates, can influence serotonin and tryptophan levels in the brain. These neurotransmitters have a calming effect and can lead to drowsiness. High-carbohydrate, high-fat, and large meals are significantly associated with postprandial somnolence.
Circadian Rhythms: The body’s natural circadian rhythms may also play a role, as they regulate feelings of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day. Meals that align with the natural downturn in energy that many people experience in the afternoon or evening can exacerbate feelings of tiredness.
Metabolic Changes: The body’s metabolic response to breaking down food, including the release of insulin after high-carbohydrate meals, can also contribute to postprandial somnolence. Insulin can facilitate the uptake of amino acids that compete with tryptophan, increasing its concentration in the brain and producing serotonin.

Behavioural and Environmental Factors: The setting in which eating occurs and the individual’s overall sleep quality and lifestyle can influence the tiredness experienced after eating.

Managing postprandial somnolence may involve dietary adjustments such as reducing portion sizes, choosing lower glycemic index foods, and balancing macronutrient intake. Additionally, maintaining a consistent eating schedule and improving overall sleep hygiene can help mitigate the effects of postprandial somnolence.

What foods make you tired after eating?

Carbohydrate-rich Foods Such as pasta, rice, bread, and sweets can lead to spikes in blood sugar followed by crashes, contributing to feelings of fatigue.
High-Fat Foods: Like fried foods and decadent desserts, it can disrupt sleep quality and digestion, leading to post-dinner tiredness.
Heavy Meals: Large portions or meals high in processed foods can impact digestion and blood sugar levels, promoting tiredness.

References

  1. Nutrition for Muscle Gain and Fat Loss: What to Eat for Optimal Results | Atlas Bar. https://atlasbars.com/blogs/muscle-explained/nutrition-for-muscle-gain-and-fat-loss-what-to-eat-for-optimal-results 
  2. Drake, Christopher, et al. “Caffeine Effects on Sleep Taken 0, 3, or 6 Hours before Going to Bed.” Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, vol. 9, no. 11, 2013, pp. 1195-1200.
  3. St-Onge, Marie-Pierre, et al. “Fiber and Saturated Fat Are Associated with Sleep Arousals and Slow Wave Sleep.” Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, vol. 12, no. 1, 2016, pp. 19-24.
  4. Gangwisch, James E., et al. “High Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Diets as Risk Factors for Insomnia: Analyses from the Women’s Health Initiative.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 111, no. 2, 2020, pp. 429-439.

Turn Your Midlife Sleep Struggles into Restful Nights and Rejuvenation

Stop tossing and turning all night, only to wake up tired and drained. Instead, learn how to reclaim your restful sleep with our comprehensive guidebook. By doing so, you can wake up refreshed and revitalized and experience the long-term transformation you’ve been longing for in your midlife journey. GRAB YOUR COPY RIGHT HERE.

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