Is Falling Asleep After Eating a Sign of Diabetes?

Last Updated on by Kari Garner, MS RDN LD CDCES

While it might be a common occurrence that many of us can relate to, there may be more to the post-meal drowsiness that you are experiencing. In this blog, I am sharing insights into the frequently asked question, “Is falling asleep after eating a sign of diabetes?”. 

If you have ever had a sudden urge to take a nap after a meal, keep reading! 

I explore the connection between blood sugars and fatigue before providing practical ways to minimize fatigue during the day. 

By the end, you will have the knowledge to recognize the warning signs of unmanaged blood sugars and the resources to live a life filled with energy.

Let’s get started!

Understanding Diabetes

To help understand the connection between high blood sugars and fatigue, let’s first dive into the descriptions of each type of diabetes. 

Type 1

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that impacts the body’s ability to regulate blood sugars. While typically diagnosed in childhood or adolescence, type 1 can develop at any age. 

In type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.  This leads to a deficiency of insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. 

As a result, individuals must rely on daily insulin injections or pump therapy to deliver insulin for proper management of blood sugar levels. 

Prediabetes and Type 2

Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes mellitus are conditions where you do not have enough insulin production to control your blood sugars within normal limits for optimal health.

Similar to Type 1, it is the role of your pancreas to produce insulin for your body, which can move into your bloodstream when your blood sugars are elevated (like after eating a meal or a stressful situation).

With prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, your body is not able to move this insulin into your bloodstream to reduce elevated blood sugars effectively. However, your pancreas continues to produce the insulin because your blood sugar remains elevated.

Eventually, the cells of the pancreas can wear out due to high insulin production and can stop producing insulin. When this happens, you cannot reverse the damage and other methods of managing blood sugars are needed.

With proper blood sugar control, you can prevent this progression and manage the condition effectively.

Gestational Diabetes 

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a condition that can develop in women during pregnancy who do not already have diabetes.

It is when your body cannot produce or use insulin effectively during pregnancy. This results in a state of chronic high blood sugars that can be harmful to both the mother and child.

GDM is often a symptom of underlying β-cell dysfunction, which is why you will see the increased risk of the mother and child developing diabetes later in life. B-cells or beta cells are cells located in the pancreas. They are responsible for the storage, production and release of insulin.

With proper management through lifestyle changes, most women with gestational diabetes can maintain healthy blood sugar levels and deliver a healthy baby.

Signs of Diabetes

Falling asleep after eating can be a response brought on by various factors; however, it can also be a symptom of diabetes. 

In individuals with diabetes, the digestion process after a meal can be disrupted and cause feelings of fatigue, weakness or drowsiness. 

Therefore, if you are experiencing fatigue after eating and have not been diagnosed with diabetes, here are additional warning signs to consider: 

  • Any random blood sugar over 200 mg/dL
  • Any fasting blood sugar over 126 mg/dL
  • A1c > or = 6.5%
  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Blurry Vision

Blood Sugars and Tiredness

Regardless if you have been formally diagnosed with diabetes, blood sugar levels play a crucial role in energy levels. 

Rapid fluctuations such as blood sugar spikes followed by crashes can leave you feeling lethargic, weak and drowsy. 

Maintaining tight blood sugar control with minimal spikes and crashes can be achieved to alleviate these symptoms and promote sustained energy. 

Green background with graphic of a person sleeping with the words: "Why do I fall asleep after eating? 
-Fluctuating Blood Sugars (with or without diabetes)
-Poor sleep quality
-Nutrient-poor food choices
-Poor stress management 
-Irregular eating patterns"

Other Causes of Falling Asleep During the Day

In addition to blood sugar fluctuations, there are other factors that could contribute to falling asleep during the day. 

It can be helpful to keep these factors at top of mind. Don’t forget to this discuss with a healthcare professional if feeling tired after eating. 

  • Poor sleep quality 
  • Nutrient-poor food choices
  • Excessive caffeine consumption 
  • Sedentary behavior
  • Poor stress management 
  • Irregular eating patterns 
  • Certain medications such as antihistamines or antidepressants
  • Dehydration 

How To Decrease Fatigue After Eating

Post meal fatigue can be more than just an inconvenience as it can impact overall productivity, mood and health.

Below you will find multiple ways to decrease fatigue after eating that can be incorporated into your lifestyle.

From limiting added sugars and committing to physical activity to creating a personalized lifestyle plan, it is possible to reclaim your energy! 

Ways to improve Energy levels

  1. Eat balanced meals: Opt for meals and snacks that are balanced with lean protein, non-starchy vegetables, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. These essential nutrients will provide sustained energy by supporting blood sugars. 
  2. Limit added sugars: Consuming excessive amounts of added sugars can lead to energy crashes during the day. Try swapping a morning energy drink for an unsweetened coffee or tea or an afternoon soda with sparkling water. 
  3. Stay hydrated: Dehydration can lead or exacerbate feelings of fatigue so drinking plenty of water or unsweetened beverages throughout the day can help to maintain energy levels. 
  4. Get moving: Add physical exercise after a meal such as a lap around the office or a short walk outside, weather permitting. This gentle movement can aid digestion, boost energy levels and even be stress relieving.
  5. Have a sleep routine: Chronic sleep deprivation can contribute to feelings of fatigue throughout the day, including after meals. Sleep is essential for a laundry list of things, but most importantly the regulation of hormones so aim for 7-9 hours per night.
  6. Limit or avoid caffeine and alcohol: Excessive consumption of caffeinated or alcoholic beverages not only can contribute unnecessary added sugars and calories to your diet but they can disrupt sleep patterns as well.  
  7. Manage stress: Similar to sleep, chronic high stress levels can impact digestion and overall energy. Try incorporating stress reduction techniques into your routine such as listening to music, practicing yoga or participating in meditation. 
  8. Review habits regularly: It can be overwhelming to follow a healthy lifestyle without accountability. This is one reason that I offer Diet Discoveries. I review your habits and food intake before providing constructive feedback during this session. These sessions are available on an as needed basis so you can customize the level of accountability to your needs. 

Importance of a Proper Diagnosis

I do want to stress the importance of a proper diagnosis and advocating to determine the root cause of fatigue after eating. 

The information provided in this blog is intended for informational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. 

Consult with a qualified healthcare professional for personalized advice, diagnosis or treatment for your specific needs. This content should also not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. 

The relationship between falling asleep after eating and its potential connection to diabetes emphasizes the importance of understanding your body. 

If you are experiencing drowsiness after meals, it could be a warning size for underlying health issues such as diabetes. By taking the knowledge from this blog and speaking with your healthcare team, you can take proactive steps toward maintaining your health. 

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Flourish with Diabetes!

If you are ready to take the leap and transform your health, check out my Resources Page. I can help you grow & flourish with diabetes!

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Springtime Nutrition, LLC was founded on my passion to partner with individuals to eliminate the stress, frustration and overwhelm of changing their nutrition lifestyle. I am committed to supporting you at every step of your journey. Ready to transform your life?  Get started today!

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Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist/ Registered Dietitian/ Owner / Springtime Nutrition, LLC

Kari is a diabetes expert with more than 18 years of experience. Kari currently works as a diabetes educator with a large hospital system in Charleston, SC and is committed to improving the lives of people with any type of diabetes.

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