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Is Falling Asleep After Eating a Sign of Diabetes? Find Out More
Diabetes

Is Falling Asleep After Eating a Sign of Diabetes? Find Out More

HR_author_photo_Brenda
Written by Brenda Peralta, RD | Fact checked by Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Last update: March 20, 2023
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6 min

You’ve probably noticed that you immediately feel sleepy after eating. While it doesn’t necessarily mean you have problems with your blood sugar levels, it should be something to watch out for. Here, we’ll determine if falling asleep might be a sign of diabetes.

is falling asleep after eating a sign of diabetes
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If you fall asleep after eating, you are not alone. Many people, whether they have diabetes or not, might get drowsy after having a big meal. 

While it doesn’t necessarily mean you have diabetes, it can be a sign of having unstable blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels can lead to fatigue and feeling like you need a nap after eating. 

Anyone can have high blood sugar after eating, but not all foods are going to cause this feeling. Sugary foods and other processed foods can cause you to feel tired after eating them. 

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But, people with diabetes should be more careful with these symptoms to prevent hyperglycemia (high sugar levels). This article will cover the relationship between blood sugar spikes and feeling fatigued after eating. 

Is Falling Asleep After Eating a Sign of Diabetes?

Feeling tired after eating might be a sign of diabetes. This can be due to an imbalance in blood glucose levels. After eating, your blood sugar spikes to food arriving in the body. In fact, a study showed that more than 50% of those who reported having diabetes felt tired after eating. And the culprit might be no other than having high sugar levels.

You have hyperglycemia when your blood sugar level is more than 180mg/dL. As a result, it might increase the risk of developing more diabetes symptoms such as fatigue, sleepiness, frequent urination, and feeling thirsty. 

However, someone without diabetes can also experience this feeling after eating. The foods affect how you handle blood glucose levels. For example, when you eat ice cream, that increase in blood glucose can leave you feeling sleepy. 

Is falling asleep after eating sugar a sign of diabetes? 

Foods high in sugar can be the main culprit for your tiredness after eating. But the reason is not only sugar. Highly processed foods such as white bread and spaghetti can also leave you feeling tired. 

When the body consumes simple carbs such as sugar or processed foods, they don’t require a lot of digestion. As a result, the body immediately absorbs the sugar in the body. 

Evidence suggests that not taking care of these sudden changes in blood glucose levels can make you feel tired and need to go to bed. 

Can you get tired after eating if you have gestational diabetes?

Having gestational diabetes can put you at risk of having changes in your blood sugar levels. Consequently, it can lead to feeling tired after eating. 

However, there are some cases where the problem is not only seen after eating. Some women might feel tired all day long, even if they are careful with what they are eating and have frequent naps. 

It’s important to keep track of any symptoms that might arise and consult with your doctor to have the right tests to determine the root cause of the problem. 

Does Sugar Make You Tired?

When you eat sugar, you might notice that you immediately feel tired. While in the beginning, it might create a sudden burst in energy levels, after a couple of minutes, you might feel more tired than you previously were. 

So, why does this happen?

When you eat sugary food, the immediate increase in blood glucose levels (sugar rush) puts the body in work mode. It now needs to get rid of the sugars in the blood to prevent any health concerns. 

The body is so efficient in this process that it might get rid of all and more glucose in the blood. As a result, you can get low blood sugar (sugar crash). 

Not only can high sugar levels make you feel tired, but low blood sugar levels are also responsible for feeling tired throughout the day. 

Why Do People With Diabetes Feel Sleepy After Eating?

People with diabetes might feel sleepy after eating due to possible hyperglycemia. As we’ve seen throughout the article, a sudden spike in blood glucose levels might temporarily increase energy levels, but it can decrease them straight away. 

Also, you need to take into consideration any type of medication you are taking. For example, if you are not careful with the dosage, it might lead to low blood sugar levels for those who inject insulin before eating. As a consequence, it can make you feel sleepy or tired. 

So before you start pointing the finger at a particular food, make sure you are also checking the medication you are taking. 

What Are the Causes of Tiredness After Eating?

We’ve talked a lot about carbs and sugar and their effect on energy levels. However, it is not the only one responsible for making you tired after eating. 

When food is broken down in the body, it releases hormones such as CCK (cholecystokinin), amylin, and glucagon, all of which are responsible for increasing fullness levels. Additionally, the body releases insulin to help regulate blood sugar levels. 

If high levels of each hormone are high in the brain, it can lead to a higher release of serotonin (the happy hormone), making you feel tired after eating. 

Another reason you might be feeling tired after eating is that you are having a high-protein meal. Proteins are high in tryptophan, an amino acid the body needs to create serotonin. 

The higher the tryptophan content in the food eaten, the higher the change in serotonin release. That is why after Thanksgiving, once you finish eating the turkey, you might feel like taking a nap since turkey is a high-tryptophan food. 

Finally, there are other foods, such as tart cherries, which evidence suggests can increase melatonin production. In the end, this can promote better sleep and make you tired after eating them. 

How to Feel Less Tired After Eating?

To prevent you from feeling tired after eating, the best thing you can do is ensure your blood sugar remains as stable as possible. 

The first thing to do is prevent consuming foods high in sugars or overly processed foods. Remember that these don’t require much digestion, which can result in sugar spikes. 

Instead, choose whole grains that will have a slower digestion allowing for a more controlled energy release. So, instead of going for white bread, choose wheat bread. You can also choose options like beans, lentils, chickpeas, and quinoa

Another thing you can do to prevent getting tired after eating is to add a healthy fat, protein, or non-starchy vegetable whenever you have a high-carb food. 

Healthy fats such as avocado, proteins like chicken, and non-starchy vegetables like eggplant take longer to digest in the body. As a result, it leads to a more stable energy release. 

Finally, you can include apple cider vinegar to help regulate glucose levels. Research shows that taking apple cider vinegar before a meal can reduce glucose response by up to 30%. 

If you take apple cider vinegar, you can dilute it in water to prevent it from affecting your teeth. If you decide to take apple cider vinegar gummies, make sure they don’t contain any added sugars. 

A Word From a Registered Dietitian

The two most common causes for feeling tired when you have diabetes is due to high sugar levels (hyperglycemia) or low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia).

For that reason, learning to manage your blood sugar levels can play a key role in reducing the appearance of side effects.

A healthy weight is essential for having normal glucose levels. In fact, the American Diabetes Association puts those with obesity at risk for developing diabetes.

If you want to lose weight, you need to be in a caloric deficit, which means eating fewer calories than the body needs. Protein and non-starchy vegetables are going to be your allies to help increase fullness levels and prevent you from starving.

Additionally, exercise also plays a crucial role in managing glucose levels. Doing a short 10-minute walk after eating can have a massive impact on regulating your blood sugar.

So, next time instead of lying down after you eat, grab your walking shoes and go for a walk. This can help you have more stable glucose levels, and it can also wake you up.

Conclusion

So, is falling asleep after you eat a sign of diabetes?

It can be a sign you have diabetes, but it doesn’t have to be the rule. In reality, it means you have unstable glucose levels, or you might be eating a meal very high in protein. 

Balancing glucose levels can be helpful in preventing you from becoming tired all the time. It creates more stable energy and prevents you from having that undesired sugar crash. 

Next time, switch the sugary foods for a whole grain option and have it along with a protein, healthy fat, or non-starchy vegetable to have a more controlled energy release.

HR_author_photo_Brenda
Written by
Brenda Peralta, RD, is a registered dietitian advisor for Health Reporter. She has several certifications in sports nutrition, health coaching, and women’s health hormones. She presents herself as a fertility advisor and gut specialist.
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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