A healthy meal should leave you feeling energized and ready to accomplish your daily activities. However, if you feel sleepy after a meal or find yourself taking a nap on the couch after eating, it may be because of your diabetes. You will need to do a bit of experimentation to find out the cause of your sleepiness, but it is possible to correct this simple problem.
For many people with diabetes, eating too much, and especially eating too much carbohydrates and sugar, makes them feel very tired after the meal. Feeling tired and lack of energy are common symptoms of hyperglycemia, or high-blood sugar levels. You may have a lot of sugar circulating through your bloodstream, but your insulin is either deficient or inefficient at getting that sugar into your cells. If your cells are not getting sugar, which is their main source of energy, they feel tired and so do you. Hyperglycemia also may be, but is not always, accompanied by increased thirst and frequent urination.
Hypoglycemia, or low-blood sugar levels, may be the cause of your sleepiness after eating. Hypoglycemia can happen if you have taken too much insulin or diabetes medications for the amount of carbohydrates you ate or if you had quickly digestible carbohydrates that made your blood sugar levels peak high and then crash within one to two hours. If your blood sugar levels drop below 70 mg/dL, it is considered a low-blood sugar level and you need to treat it immediately with either three to four glucose tablets, 1/2 cup of a regular soft drink, 1/2 cup of fruit juice or 1 tbsp. of sugar or honey. If you experience low-blood sugar, you also may feel hungry, shaky, dizzy, weak, confused and irritable.
Blood Sugar Target
With diabetes, it is important to adjust your treatment plan, which includes your diet, lifestyle and medications, to keep your blood sugar levels within the target range. Managing your blood sugar levels helps you prevent the damage associated with uncontrolled diabetes. Your blood sugar levels should be between 70 and 130 mg/dL before eating and under 180 mg/dL two hours after the start of your meal. Monitoring your blood sugar levels is the best way to ensure your diabetes is under control. Check your blood sugar levels when you feel sleepy to determine whether the sleepiness is due to hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia.
For most people with diabetes, sleepiness after a meal is the result of high-blood sugar levels because of an excessive carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrates are key to optimizing your blood sugar levels and your energy levels. This nutrient is present in grains, legumes, fruits, milk, yogurt, juices, sugary beverages and desserts. Track your carbohydrate intake at each meal to better understand the relationship between what you eat, your blood sugar levels and how you feel.