It's now a week after Thanksgiving, a holiday that usually involves much over-eating and sleeping on the couch. What causes the sleepiness after a Thanksgiving meal? We often hear that turkey is the culprit, but is it really the turkey that causes you to fall asleep after Thanksgiving dinner? Let's see what the science says.
The saying goes that the amino acid L-Tryptophan, which turkey contains, causes sleepiness. WebMD describes it better than I can:
"Tryptophan is needed for the body to produce serotonin. Serotonin is used to make melatonin, a hormone that helps to control your sleep and wake cycles."
There you go, turkey causes sleepiness, right? Not so fast. The amount of L-Tryptophan contained in turkey is similar to that found in most other poultry products. Therefore, one should find themselves just as sleepy after eating chicken. Yet we never associate eating chicken with sleepiness. So what is really going on?
The real culprit isn't the turkey itself, but all of the other food that goes along with it at Thanksgiving. Potatoes, stuffing, corn, yams, pie, etc. Most of us tend to overeat at the Thanksgiving meal because there is so much delicious looking food right in front of us. After overeating the digestion process requires more energy. It is this excess in used energy that induces sleepiness after the Thanksgiving meal!
So next Thanksgiving, don't blame the turkey, blame yourself for eating too much food. :-)
For more information, check out the WebMD explanation of turkey and sleepiness.
The Truth About Tryptophan