Ever wondered if napping after eating is good for you? This article talks about its benefits, how to do it right and what to avoid when snoozing post-meal.
Ever wanted to steal a quick snooze after eating a yummy meal? Well, you’re not alone. It’s a common practice across many different cultures.
In Spain, napping in the afternoon (especially after lunch) is known as a siesta. And it’s a practice that’s part of their daily schedule. But nowadays, its not as common for people who work in an office.
The Italians have their own version called riposo. It basically means “extended lunch break.” It lasts 4 hours and many Italians use it as a means to chill and spend time with their families. It goes without saying, they probably sneak in a nap after lunch, too.
Meanwhile, the Greeks call theirs messimeri. It’s from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Some establishments close during these hours and it's pretty much silence all around. Supposedly, disturbing anyone during this time is asking for it.
In India, there’s the ayurvedic concept of Vamakukshi, which has to do with napping for better digestion. It's contrary to what Western health practicioners usually recommend. But we’ll discuss it at length later on in this article.
Napping after eating has its benefits. Keep reading to understand why a post-lunch (or any other meal for that matter) siesta is a game-changer for your mental, physical and emotional health.
Let’s get started. Here’s what this article covers:
Taking a quick snooze post-meal is simple. It's pretty much catching some zzzs after you've eaten. The peak time for naps usually falls after lunch. In Spain and other Latin American countries, a siesta (or “nap”) is a common custom after the midday meal.
Napping after eating is more than just a means to fight off the lethargy from a food coma. It's about letting your body unwind and digest. When you snooze after a meal, you give your body the time it needs to recharge. A quick snooze can help you take on the rest of the day like a champ.
Napping after a meal isn't about snoozing for hours on end. A brief nap does the trick. (More on how long later in this article.)
But what's the rationale behind snoozing after munching? Let's explore the science behind it in the next section.
The Science Behind Napping After Eating
Our bodies function based on an internal body clock (a.k.a. the circadian rhythm). This rhythm doesn’t just impact your sleep-wake cycle. But also when you feel hungry and your brain activity.
It's typical to experience an energy slump several hours after lunch. That’s why it's no surprise that many cultures have adopted the tradition of an afternoon nap.
What you eat affects your brain chemistry. For example, tryptophan-rich foods like spinach can boost serotonin (a.k.a. The happy hormone). According to Medical News Today, carbohydrates help the serotonin from tryptophan reach your brain(1).
Serotonin is then converted into melatonin, the sleep hormone. That’s why you may feel extra sleepy after eating a carb-laden meal.
Every time you eat, your body gears up to digest your meal. And it needs energy to pull this off efficiently and effectively. Sneaking in a quick siesta after lunch allows your body to battle lethargy and recharge.
But knowing how to nap after eating is important. Otherwise, it may do more harm than good. We’ll discuss the right way to snooze after eating below.
Napping After Eating: Dos and Don’ts
Taking a nap after eating can be blissful and beneficial if done correctly. Here’s how to ensure you get the most out of your post-meal nap.
Make sure the timing is right. According to the Sleep Foundation, it’s best to nap right before or when your energy levels dip(2). And that’s between 12:30 to 2:00 p.m.
Limit your nap to 20 to 30 minutes. (Set an alarm, if you must!) Otherwise, you may experience sleep inertia. And that means waking up feeling groggy and disoriented. For the aged or the very young, a 90-minute nap is a better option. It’s the length of a full sleep cycle to avoid that groggy feeling.
Find a comfy spot with the right conditions for napping. It should be quiet, cool and dark. If you’re at work, the right sleep accessories can help you grab a good snooze. (Don’t worry. We have a section devoted to these.)
Lie down on your left side. Some research suggests that this is the best sleep position for digestion. Especially if you have acid reflux or GERD. (If you find yourself without a bed or couch, nap on your desk.)
And here’s what to steer clear of when it comes to napping after lunch:
Avoid napping between 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. It’s too close to bedtime and you’ll have a harder time drifting off at night.
Don’t eat or drink stimulants too close to naptime during the day. And that means tea, coffee or chocolate after lunch.
Hold off on gadget use pre-nap. The blue light from your devices can make it difficult to take a restorative snooze.
Don’t lie down right after eating. Wait a bit — about 2 hours. Either nap before or during the post-lunch slump.
Now that you know how to do it right and what to avoid, let’s move on to the benefits of napping after eating.
Unexpected Benefits of Napping After Lunch
Taking a post-lunch snooze isn't just about recharging your batteries. Let's explore its surprising benefits for your overall health and wellness.
It improves cognitive function.
A brief snooze after lunch can boost your memory, cognitive abilities, and ability to solve problems. It’s an effective way to recharge your mental powers and stay productive for the rest of the day. (Work it!)
Don’t believe us? A study in The National Library of Medicine showed that a quick snooze post-lunch could boost your brain's processing capacity.
A reduction was observed in the P300, a “neurophysiological measure of cognitive performance. ” This after a 15-minute nap versus a 45-minute one or no rest at all. It showed that the shorter nap lessened feelings of drowsiness and improved participants' task performance(3).
It reduces stress and improves your mood.
Taking a quick snooze can lower the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in your body. A post-lunch siesta may help ease tension and make you feel calm and relaxed.
Napping can elevate your serotonin levels. This puts you in a happier mood, promoting a better sense of well-being.
It may aid in muscle recovery and promote fat loss.
Ever wondered if a post-workout nap is a good thing? It’s great if you engage in aerobic (running or swimming laps) and anaerobic (weight training or sprinting) exercises.
It gives your muscles time to rest. Plus, it gives you an energy boost when you’re tired after working out. Just make sure to do it early afternoon versus late.
Also, napping can kickstart your metabolism and help you burn fat faster. Not to mention that being tired can throw off the balance of your hunger hormones. And that may mean a ravenous appetite and overeating.
It may help you sleep better at night.
Quick naps in the early afternoon can improve nighttime sleep. According to WebMD, studies have shown that napping alongside stretching before bedtime can help you catch better zzzs(4). This is especially true for older adults and young kids.
Vamakukshi: Ayurveda’s Post-lunch Snooze for Better Digestion
Most experts in the Western part of the world suggest waiting 2 to 3 hours after eating to nap. Doing so earlier may mess with your body’s ability to digest food. However, there’s an ayurvedic practice that suggests it improves digestion when you rest right after lunch. And it’s called Vamakukshi.
In case you’re unaware, Ayurveda is a holistic healing system that originated in India over 3 millennia ago. At its core is the principle of a balance between mind, body, and spirit to achieve good health and wellness.
According to Ayush, one focus of Ayurveda is keeping agni (or “internal fire”) in your gut active throughout the day for good digestion. This entails eating enough versus eating too much or too little. Lunch is the best time for a substantial meal(5).
Ayush also says that Ayurveda promotes mindful eating versus chowing for the sake of a routine. The latter can mess with the body’s balance and prevent proper digestion. Ultimately, this leads to the production of harmful toxins. And that’s where the practice of Vamakukshi makes its entrance.
According to The Indian Express, an expert says that Vamakukshi should be done right after lunch. Sleep position is also important — napping in a fetal position on your left side, to be exact. Also, 10 to 30 minutes between 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. is ideal(6).
Apart from the benefits we listed above, Vamakukshi supposedly helps hormonal balance for those suffering from diabetes and PCOD, among others. It also helps those who suffer from IBS and constipation.
Vamakukshi might not be for everyone. Yet it's still interesting to know what role napping after eating plays in the health practices of other cultures.
The Best Sleep Accessories for Napping After Eating
For one, your work might entail frequent traveling. And snoozing in the car, plane or train can be challenging. Or your workplace might not have the dark and quiet environment needed for a nap.
But never fear. There are sleep products designed to help people like you maximize napping after eating — no matter where you are.
Here are a few:
A Sleep Mask That Provides 100% Blackout
You might be wondering why sleep masks help you get better zzzs.
It’s simple. Light (whether from the sun or gadgets) tells your body that it’s time to be awake. Meanwhile, darkness sends a signal that it’s time to wind down. It also promotes the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin.
A sleep mask should block out disruptive light totally to be effective. What’s more, it should be comfy and suitable for all sleep positions.
Manta PRO Sleep Mask
Nothing better than a Manta
“I’ve loved all the Manta sleep masks I’ve bought, but the one for side sleepers is definitely for me, total blackout no adjusting when I’m on my side vs my back, stays put and blocks out the light no matter what way I sleep! By far the best mask for side sleepers!”
Our original product, Manta Sleep Mask is great for snoozing after eating (or any other time for that matter). It’s 100% blackout and works well for any sleep position.
Here are its features:
The infinitely adjustable head strap is made from super soft and breathable materials.
It secures around the head with a micro hook and loop closure that won’t snag your hair.
There’s ample space for your nose, too.
The strap is durable and made with triple-reinforced elastic.
The convex design of the eye cups means zero pressure for your eyes and lashes.
The cups are made from tapered and soft foam.
They’re infinitely adjustable and can be positioned anwhere in the mask’s interior for a personal fit.
Napping Pillows Made for Snoozing on Your Desk or Travel
Let’s face it. Not everybody has a sleep station at work where they can lie down and grab a power nap. And unless you’re flying first class, napping semi-upright in an airplane or train can be tough.
If you can relate, then napping pillows were designed especially for folks like you. Luckily, we have two that were designed especially for sleeping on your desk or when you’re on-the-go away from home.
This napping pillow has a unique arc design. We designed it for desk use because not all workplaces have areas for napping. Manta Nap Arc also puts zero pressure on your arms and fully supports your neck and head.
Here are its features:
The ergonomic arc design makes for easy setup and height adjustment.
We designed it with soft, cooling materials.
Don’t let looks fool you. It’s very stable for adequate neck and head support.
It packs flat for easy storage.
The slip-on cover is 100% machine-washable.
To adjust, pull on the strap for a higher arc and tug on the g-hook to lower it.
Manta Travel Pillow
“I've never been able to sleep on a plane, but this pillow is a game changer. It's so comfortable and made my 24 hour flight a lot more bearable. Highly recommended for anyone who can't sleep upright due to flopping forward!”
Even a short nap on a plane or train journey can recharge you, helping you cope with jet lag. But it's crucial to feel comfy while doing so. And that’s what a cozy travel pillow can give you.
The problem with most neck pillows is they either make your head flop forward or fail to stay put. But we promise this isn’t the case with Manta Travel Pillow. It's inflatable. Use it in 4 different ways.
Explore its features:
It’s easy to inflate — just 2 breaths.
The machine-washable cover is made from plush microfleece for luxe comfort.
Stash small items in its side pocket like your earplugs and phone for easy access.
Pack it flat in its travel pouch for portability.
Use it in 4 different ways:
The Lock – Goes behind your neck and secures in the front. This lets you rest your head.
The Hug – Hugs the front of your neck. This gives you support when your head leans forward.
The Nod – Fits in your front, allowing you to lean your chin on the pillow. You can forget your head bobbing forward.
The Cradle – The tips of the pillow rest on your shoulders, hugging your head as you lean backward.
Comfy Earplugs to Keep Noise Out
If there’s anything that gets in the way of napping after eating, it's a noisy environment. Unfortunately, sometimes this is beyond your control. And earplugs are an easy way to keep noise to a level that’s conducive to snoozing.
These earplugs block out noise of up to 32 decibels.
Not just for sleep, these are suitable for reducing noise from machinery and live concerts. (Oh, and the snoring of your bed partner.)
We used soft, slow-release foam to make these earplugs comfy.
They have a unique bell shape so they fit the human ear canal.
They’re moldable for a custom fit.
Grabbing a quick snooze no matter where you are is possible with these sleep accessories. Consider adding them to your sleep arsenal. It goes without saying that these will help make your nighttime sleep better, too.
Now you know that napping after eating, especially after lunch, comes with its set of benefits. These include improving brain performance, lowering stress levels and putting you in a better mood. It’s a simple and effective way to boost your overall wellness.
Oftentimes, people mistake napping as a sign of laziness. But if you take a page from different cultures mentioned in this post, it’s the opposite of slacking off. On that note, being lazy once in a while is fine if you have nothing important to do. You deserve it.
So why not give napping after eating a shot? Kick things off with a 20-minute siesta after lunch. Take note of how you feel after. Do you feel energized? Are you more productive? How’s your mood?
Taking a nap after lunch is a habit that may significantly raise the bar of your overall wellness and health. Just make sure to do it right so you get the most out of it.
We’re curious to find out how napping after eating works for you. Let us know by leaving a comment below. We’re pretty sure other readers want to hear about your experience too.
(1) “How to boost serotonin and improve mood” Medical News Today, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322416. Accessed 18 August 2023.
(2) “Napping: Benefits and Tips” Sleep Foundation, www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/napping. Accessed 18 August 2023.
(3) “Brief naps during post-lunch rest: effects on alertness, performance, and autonomic balance” The National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9694306/. Accessed 22 August 2023.
(4) “Health Benefits of Napping” WebMD, www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/ss/slideshow-health-benefits-of-napping. Accessed 25 August 2023.
(5) “VAMAKUKSHI – POST LUNCH NAP FOR DIGESTION” Ayush, www.ayurvedasg.com/vamakukshi-post-lunch-nap-for-digestion/. Accessed 25 August 2023.
(6) “Should you take a nap after lunch? Here’s what this nutritionist suggests” The Indian Express, indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/afternoon-nap-after-lunch-nutritionist-rujuta-diwekar-tips-6251638/. Accessed 25 August 2023.
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