Lying down after eating tends to be one of the habits we do very often. We even doze off. But is this good for us? Will it create any physical problems?
We may feel lazy after a meal, but that does not mean we should go to sleep. Then, what should we do after our meals to ensure good health?
This article explains everything and more.
Lying Down After Eating: What Happens If We Do It?
As thesleepjudge said, sleep nice tasty heavy meal leaves us happy and satisfied. So, the next thing that crosses our mind is sleep. But that is awful for the health.
Though it appears to be a very natural thing to do, we should avoid this. Lying down after eating should be avoided. There are many reasons for not doing this.
The most significant among them is indigestion. The digestion process is most efficient when we hold our body vertical.
The movement of food through the alimentary canal is unhindered in a vertical position. The gravity aids the peristaltic action of the digestive canal. Hence, food travels down well.
Lots of digestive juices are secreted in the stomach, as soon as the food reaches there. Consequently, it triggers chemical digestion. The acidic digestive juices break down the food chemically. Further, this supports the absorption of the food.
However, lying down after eating will give us severe acidic reflux. The acidic digestive juices from the stomach, splash into the esophagus. Additionally, its wall does not withstand these juices. As a result, it damages the esophagus walls leading in esophageal stricture.
That apart, the horizontal position and reduced acidic juices in the stomach dramatically affects the digestion. It slows down considerably. Consequently, it leads to indigestion.
The semi-digested, or the undigested food, reaches the large intestine. Here, the intestinal microbes try to break down the food into energy. Generating lots of hydrogen and carbon dioxide in the process.
Consequently, the stomach becomes gassy. As a result, it bloats. So, now we have two problems on our hand, indigestion and a gassy and smelly stomach. Nausea also set in. Then, we feel very miserable and sick.
Lying after eating is the culprit on all these. All these symptoms drive away from sleep. Look at it objectively. What do we gain by sleeping quickly after meals? Practically nothing.
Why Do We Feel Sleepy After Our Meals?
There are a few reasons why we feel sleepy after meals. Not all of us but some do get very sleepy as soon as they finish eating.
In some people, immediately after eating, the insulin shoots up. As a result, this triggers the release of serotonin. Serotonin is a sleep hormone. The tryptophan in the food also gets converted into melatonin.
Moreover, these two hormones slow down the body and sleep sets.
The body needs the energy to digest the food. So all energy gets diverted to digest food. As a result, the body becomes lethargic. Usually, it happens after a hefty and greasy meal.
Postprandial hypotension is a rare situation that exhibits in some individuals. The blood from all over the body gets diverted to the digestive system. Usually, this happens after meals. It leaves the person very weak. He may also feel giddy. Generally, people with this disorder should sleep for an hour after meals.
How Long To Wait After Meals Before Sleeping?
It is advisable to wait at least two or three hours after meals before we hit the bed. During this period, the food gets partially digested in the stomach and moves into the intestine. In a way, the stomach empties. The chances of acid reflux get reduced considerably.
A significant part of the digestion job gets done by this time. So, if we sleep now, it will not disturb the digestion process.
Since the stomach has eased out, the quality of sleep will be much better. Gas will not trouble anymore. Also, stomach bloating is beyond the horizon now.
Just by waiting a few hours, the digestion, as well as the sleep, both improve substantially. However, be advised that people suffering from postprandial hypotension should be lying down for at least an hour immediately after eating.
What Is Indigestion?
Based on our research in Healthline, indigestion is also known as dyspepsia. The general symptoms could be a pain in the gut. There could be an uneasy feeling in the upper abdomen too. Also, the stomach may bloat.
These are external or tangible symptoms. But actually, what happens is the food inside the stomach is not processed correctly. The abdomen is unable to digest the food and assimilate it. It could be because of bad food. Or it could be because of the reduced efficiency of the stomach or some underlying disease.
There is the peristaltic movement of the alimentary canal. Because of this, the food not digested goes into the intestines.
The small intestine is not able to absorb nutrition from the food because it is not in the required form. It weakens the body.
Furthermore, the undigested food generates gas in the stomach. It is a harrowing and uncomfortable situation to be.
What Are Other Causes Of Indigestion?
Sleeping after meals is not the only reason for indigestion. There are several instrumentalities of indigestion.
Not very surprising, but most of the causes of indigestion correlate to a lifestyle issue. Very few reasons are medical afflictions or disease.
Let us understand some very general and prominent causes of indigestion.
Eating too quickly
It is advisable to chew the food adequately. There are two reasons for this. One, chewing breaks down what we eat into smaller and fine particles. Also, this facilitates the stomach to churn it and go ahead with chemical digestion.
Secondly, the reason is food gets mixed up nicely with saliva. The saliva helps in breaking down the food chemically. It is the beginning of the digestion process. The mixing of saliva dramatically reduces the load on the stomach. But at times, food is gobbled. In other words, if not appropriately chewed, indigestion may result.
The digestive systems have their capacity to digest food. Beyond a certain quantity, the digestive system may not be able to handle it, thus, leading to indigestion.
Too much of fatty/greasy food
Because of their composition, fat takes time to get digested. Besides, there are various types of fats, and they require particular enzymes for digestion. These enzymes are available in the body in small doses. So, if a large amount of fat gets consumed, the body will take a long time to digest it. Or, in some instances, it may not be able to absorb the fat.
Very spicy food
The digestive systems are thrown out of gear digesting very spicy food. Moderate spices are good for health, as it has antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. But heavily spiced food contains capsaicin. It slows down the digestive process drastically. Hence, very spicy food is challenging to digest.
Very high dose of caffeine
Caffeine interferes with the mechanism of digestion. It induces the release of large amounts of digestive juices without food being in the stomach. Later, when you eat food, the body does not release the required quantity of gastric juices. It leads to poor digestion.
Tobacco has nicotine, which signals the valve between the stomach and the esophagus to open. The opening of this valve results in acid reflux in the esophagus and damage to its lining. On the other hand, the stomach loses its digestive juices. Consequently, the digestion is affected adversely.
Alcoholic drinks in excessive quantity can cause ulcers, gastritis, and acid reflux. All these severely affect the digestive process. Hence, excessive alcohol or compulsive drinking is bad for digestion.
Though infrequent moderate risk does not disrupt digestion, persistent and high pressure is bad for the digestive system. It significantly increases the acid secretion in the stomach. Leading to ulcers and other complications. Additionally, the digestion is severely hampered.
Some Medical Conditions That Trigger Indigestion Or Poor Digestion
- Peptic ulcer
The stomach and the upper part of the intestine have a coating of a thick layer of the mucous membrane. Excessive secretion of digestive acid in the stomach destroys this layer. It exposes the underlying membrane. Besides, the acid eats away into this layer, and ulcers erupt. These ulcers are excruciating. Apart from inflicting pain, ulcers lead to poor digestion.
It is the inflammation of the stomach lining. If untreated, it could lead to peptic ulcers. An inflamed stomach is bound to underperform, and the digestion takes a hit on the chin. The inflammation in itself can be because of various reasons.
- Gall Stone
The gall stone blocks the flow of the digestive enzymes, and this seriously affects the digestive process. The digestion of fat is severely affected because of obstructed bile.
Improper bowel movement completely disrupts the digestive system. The system gets jammed up, and hence, it cannot perform well.
The digestive system is a significant functional system of the body. In this system, many components work in a synchronized manner. Generally, malfunction of any part hinders the process of digestion. A large number of enzymes and juices form an integral part of the metabolism. Any disturbance in the production or flow of these fluids also holds up the digestive process.
In other words, there are lots of major and minor reasons responsible for perfect digestion. All of them in ideal synchronization ensures healthy digestion
How To Handle Indigestion?
There are two ways to handle indigestion according to self.com. The first one is to be proactive and careful enough and not allow this to occur. Second would be the remedial measures to be taken, once indigestion has set in.
The preventive measures:
- Always eat a healthy and balanced diet. Avoid too much of fat and spices.
- Do not go for junk food often.
- Better to reduce smoking and alcohol.
- Eat-in moderate quantities.
- Always eat freshly cooked food.
- Drink adequate water.
- Keep your body active.
- Be cheerful, when having meals.
- Lying down after eating should be avoided
- If possible, stroll for 10 -15 minutes after meals.
The remedy for indigestion:
Indigestion can be mild or, at times, could be severe because of some underlying medical condition.
For the mild and occasional occurrence of indigestion, these specific home remedies can be useful:
Peppermint has excellent antispasmodic properties. A cup of peppermint tea after meals helps ease the symptoms of indigestion. Also, we can eat some peppermint candies instead of drinking tea.
However, people suffering from acid reflux or GERD should not use peppermint. It eases the lower valve of the esophagus. Further acid reflux is possible.
It has a calming effect on the body. It eases the gut and reduces the digestive acid impact on the gastrointestinal tract. Additionally, chamomile is an excellent anti-inflammatory. It subsides the upper abdomen pain considerably.
Make a strong chamomile tea, with possibly two tea bags, and use natural honey to sweeten it.
Check with your doctor to confirm if it is ok with you.
Apple cider vinegar
Not only excess stomach acid is a problem, but minimal acid secretion in the stomach also leads to indigestion.
There are situations when indigestion is because of low gastric acid. Then, you can add one or two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to a cup of regular drinking water. Drink this about half an hour before meals.
It can be had after meals or if it suits.
Ginger is an excellent remedy for indigestion. We can suck ginger candy or make ginger tea. Boil small pieces of ginger in water. Then, add some honey to it to make tasty and useful ginger ale. Excessive ginger intake can cause heartburn and acidity. Limit the ginger to 2 drinks per day.
For the general stomach upset, baking soda is also an excellent home remedy. Add little baking soda to warm water and drink it.
It reduces flatulence and feeling of general discomfort in the stomach.
Some over the counter antacids and stomach pain relievers may be helpful like:
- Antacids: These are suitable for acid reflux, acidity, burning in the stomach. Besides, these neutralize the acids in the stomach.
- Antibiotics: An antibiotic can manage infection in the stomach. Hence, it is better to seek a doctor’s advice on this.
- H2blockers: They help decrease the amount of acid produced in the stomach.
- Proton Pump Inhibitors: This is very helpful in the case of indigestion with heartburn
- Prokinetics: They help move the bowel faster.
There could be cases of significant disorders like peptic ulcer, gall stone, and gastritis. Best is to consult a doctor. Self-medication, in such cases, can be harmful and dangerous.
Lying down and sleeping after eating just after the meals is neither good for digestion, nor we get sound sleep. Better is to be awake and active for about 2 to 3 hours before sleeping.
By following these steps, you are keeping your digestion perfect and healthy.