Does pasta make you sleepy?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “Does pasta make you sleepy?” we will also discuss why pasta makes you sleepy, how to avoid sleepiness after eating pasta and the effect of pasta consumption on sleep quality.

Does pasta make you sleepy?

Pasta can make you sleepy because it is rich in carbohydrates. So, pasta increases the insulin level in the body when consumed. This sudden increase in insulin level causes the body to metabolize faster, which causes weakness and fatigue. So, indirectly, pasta induces sleep (1).

Why does pasta make you sleepy?

Pasta makes you sleepy because its composition is rich in easily digestible carbohydrates. 

Often after having a full meal, we feel sleepy and tired. The reason why we feel sleepy after a meal is scientifically researched. If this tiredness increases after consuming pasta for lunch, the reason may be:

  • Excess of carbs:

Pasta is made of wheat flour, eggs and water with additives like salts and preservatives. Wheat has a large amount of carbohydrates. If consumed in large quantities, pasta provides a high amount of carbs in only one meal.

The carbs enter your body and break down into many sugars, including glucose. The glucose in the body is converted into glycogen by insulin. Insulin is a hormone made naturally in the body by the pancreas or injected into the body (as in diabetic patients).

The digestion and metabolism of high glucose levels in the bloodstream activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “rest and digest” response. This process requires energy and can lead to feelings of drowsiness.

Processed foods like rice and pasta get absorbed more readily and cause energy peaks and crashes. The sooner they are absorbed, the sooner they are utilized resulting in lethargy.

  • Production of serotonin and melatonin:

Many people feel happy and relaxed after eating pasta or other extruded products rich in carbs. One reason is the secretion of a hormone called serotonin.

When the carbohydrates in pasta increase insulin secretion in our body, insulin (a hormone produced by the pancreas), enters the bloodstream. It causes the tryptophan amino acid in the blood to move to the brain. 

Once tryptophan reaches the brain, it stimulates the production of serotonin and melatonin. 

The secretion of serotonin and melatonin in the blood system helps relax the body. Melatonin hormone is also associated with improved sleep quality. That’s why we feel satisfied and sleepy after eating a carbohydrate-rich diet.

These are some of the reasons why you feel sleepy after eating pasta. It is normal to feel sleepy after eating a meal, especially at day time. 

It is because our body is metabolizing this meal, which makes us tired. Also, sudden energy spikes also cause us to feel lethargic and sleepy (1–3).

How to avoid sleepiness after eating pasta? 5 Strategies for reducing sleepiness after eating pasta.

To avoid sleepiness after eating pasta, you should improve some habits, as described below: 

  • Don’t miss breakfast. 

Eating a full meal causes a sudden spike in energy if your stomach is empty for many hours. Smaller meals with shorter intervals reduce post-meal drowsiness.

  • Do not overeat. 

It is better to avoid such a significant uptake of carbohydrates at once. After eating a whole meal, our body gets tired of metabolism and we feel sleepy.

  • Take a walk. 

After eating a full meal, this helps the body digest the food. When you consume food, energy is produced. Using this energy in physical movements won’t cause a spike.

  • Add protein and vegetables.

Adding protein and vegetables to your pasta dish can help balance out the meal and prevent blood sugar spikes. This can help prevent feelings of sleepiness and keep you feeling energized.

  • Choose whole-grain pasta.

Whole grain pasta is healthier than regular pasta, as it contains more fiber and nutrients. It can also help regulate blood sugar levels, which can help prevent feelings of fatigue (1,4).

What is the effect of pasta consumption on sleep quality?

The effect of pasta consumption on sleep quality is in the majority negative. As mentioned earlier, pasta is high-carbohydrate so this food can reduce sleep onset latency and slow-wave sleep. This causes you to fall asleep faster, but without adequate sleep quality.

However, the source of the pasta can also impact sleep quality. High-fat sources can be detrimental to sleep, as they promote lower sleep efficiency and less rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is essential for restorative sleep. Therefore, these are some of the types of foods that can most negatively affect sleep quality.

In addition, studies have shown that the timing of food intake can impact both the amount and quality of sleep. Consuming food can trigger the brain’s alertness response, making it harder to fall asleep after eating at night.

As a general rule, it is recommended to consume pasta at least 3-4 hours before bedtime to minimize its effects on sleep quality (2,5–7).


In this brief article, we answered the question, “Does pasta make you sleepy?”, we also discussed why pasta makes you sleepy, how to avoid sleepiness after eating pasta and the effect of pasta consumption on sleep quality.


1. Benton D, Bloxham A, Gaylor C, Brennan A, Young HA. Carbohydrate and sleep: An evaluation of putative mechanisms. Front Nutr. 2022;9:933898.

2. Ferranti R, Marventano S, Castellano S, Giogianni G, Nolfo F, Rametta S, et al. Sleep quality and duration is related with diet and obesity in young adolescent living in Sicily, Southern Italy. Sleep Sci. 2016 Apr 1;9(2):117–22.

3. St-Onge MP, Pizinger T, Kovtun K, RoyChoudhury A. Sleep and meal timing influence food intake and its hormonal regulation in healthy adults with overweight/obesity. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2019 Jul;72(Suppl 1):76–82.

4. Fiber Foods. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022 [cited 2023 May 9]. 

5. St-Onge MP, Mikic A, Pietrolungo CE. Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality. Adv Nutr. 2016 Sep 1;7(5):938–49.

6. Doherty R, Madigan S, Warrington G, Ellis J. Sleep and Nutrition Interactions: Implications for Athletes. Nutrients. 2019 Apr 11;11(4):822.

7. Health I of M (US) C on D and, Woteki CE, Thomas PR. Fats, Cholesterol, And Chronic Diseases. In: Eat for Life: The Food and Nutrition Board’s Guide to Reducing Your Risk of Chronic Disease. National Academies Press (US); 1992 [cited 2023 May 9].