General Question

mitochondrian's avatar

Does napping after a meal impede digestion?

Asked by mitochondrian (133 points ) November 8th, 2011

I’ve heard that eating a big meal makes one want to take a nap. I’ve also heard that laying down in bed after eating a meal slows down digestion. Further, I’ve been told that one should stay awake or at least snooze in a recliner in the sitting position rather than laying flat, or horizontally as in a bed after eating. So, does laying down for a nap slow down digestion?

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9 Answers

marinelife's avatar

” . . . our digestive tracts are set up to work best when we are standing; lying down results in gravity pulling the

“wrong way” to help food digest. Even though the practice of napping after a meal is common, it isn’t ideal from the standpoint of digestion. Sitting and resting are fine. For example, enjoying each other’s company around the table after a delicious meal is a good idea. But lying down to sleep just doesn’t help digestion. ”

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john65pennington's avatar

If I have consumed a big meal, like Thanksgiving dinner, it is nap time for me shortly after.

Especially if I have a big dessert afterwards.

The position does not matter to me. Sitting, lying down, even standing up makes no difference. When I become cross-eyed, then its time for me to go.

JLeslie's avatar

Lying on your left side is best for digestion from what I understand, if you are going to be lying down.

I think there is nothing wrong with taking a nap after you eat, but in America probably people advise against it because everyone is always trying to lose weight, and people have it in their minds we shouldn’t eat before we sleep, that it will make us fat because we won’t be burning off the calories.

People who have heartburn and GERD problems have more trouble if they immediately lay down after eating. Better for them to wait for the food to move further down the digestive tract.

I think it is logical for people to get sleepy and rest after eating. I have never read anything about it, but just thinking it through it seems when food is scarce the body would naturally stay awake to hunt and gather food, and then rest after receiving the needed sustenance.

Many countries have a tradition of siesta in the middle of the day, which is a large meal and a nap following it.

lifeflame's avatar

i dunno, but my dogs seem happy to nap after a meal, so i figure that it must be pretty natural.
I also know that sumo wrestlers do it in order to gain weight…

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

I don’t think that it necessarily impedes digestion since it’s an unconscious bodily function much like breathing…

However, I do notice that after I meal if I get up and walk around or do some light activity, I feel like things process a little faster. I would say that you’ll digest everything eventually perhaps it just takes a little longer?

wilma's avatar

I thought that when you sleep most of your body functions slow and rest as well, so that your digestion was slower and that is why you shouldn’t sleep right after you eat a big meal. At least at night when you are sleeping more soundly, not just a nap.

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CWOTUS's avatar

If you lie down after eating, then you may suffer some discomfort, such as when you lie down on a full stomach, or if you have any kind of reflux problem. Otherwise, the digestive process will work just fine; if you can lie down comfortably, then you shouldn’t have any concern about sleeping after a meal. You’re not tuning a race car here; your digestive system will work “within normal limits” while you’re resting in any state – and I suspect that resting after a full meal (in whatever way is comfortable to you) will aid that digestive process more than any kind of strenuous activity (say, more than a brisk walk).

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