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Sleepy Turkey

So we have all heard about turkey making you sleepy due to the tryptophan in it. So I thought I would look it up and see how this works, apparently tryptophan produces the B vitamin niacin which triggers serotonin to act as a calmin agent in the brain, which helps you sleep. But it seems that while the tryptophan does induce sleep, it needs to be taken on an empty stomach to make you drowsy. I am guessing no one eats just turkey on Thanksgiving.

Instead of blaming the turkey there are other factors that play into why we feel so sleepy on Thanksgiving, overeating is a main one. It takes a lot of energy to digest and when we eat in such large quantities, because who really eats a small meal on Thanksgiving, it makes us tired. Fats also slow down the digestive system more than other foods so when you eat a lot of food that has a high fat content it slows down the digestive process, and therefore makes you tired. We also relax at the meal portion of the holiday, the stress of cooking is finally done and we can all enjoy the food, causing us to relax and get a little tired. It seems that the overeating, relaxing and large amounts of fat have a higher influence on making one sleepy on Thanksgiving than the turkey does.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. November 27, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I know that personally I always tend to fall prey to the Thanksgiving sleeping spell and I’ve never been one to blame the turkey. I eat a good meal of delicious food and never want to move again and usually turkey doesn’t make up a large percentage of what I’m eating there. With all the tasty sides and salads I would load on my plate, I’d dare say that the average turkey sandwich had more turkey than my Thanksgiving meals. However, this year, I wasn’t particularly famished for one reason or another and I found myself with plenty of energy afterward. While I may have had some hesitation in saying this before, I can now almost exclusively attribute that post-meal drowsiness to overeating.

  2. ms
    November 27, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    I’ve read that it actually requires somebody to consume nearly 20lbs. of turkey for them to actually feel the effects of tryptophan. In reality, like you noted, the overeating in conjunction with the high fat content of foods commonly consumed on Thanksgiving produces a drowsy effect hard to resist. The day itself brings plenty of anxiety and stress, particularly to those hosting the festivities at their house. This year I first handedly witnessed my mother pass out into a fourteen hour slumber after slaving for days over nearly a dozen dishes. While it may be easy and almost humorous to attribute our sleepiness and exhaustion to our gobbling friends, the reality of the matter brings attention to the question: who ISN’T tired after all the prep and overeating involved with Turkey Day?

  3. November 28, 2011 at 2:31 am

    I believe that turkey sleepiness is partially in your head. I have never felt sleepy after Thanksgiving and I have never really believed that tryptophan can have that much of an affect. However if a person is a strong believer that tryptophan influences them and believe that they are always tired after eating turkey, they will probably continue to feel tired after the meal. If a person does feel tired, it is definitely not just from the tryptophan, I agree that things like being done with cooking and digesting large amounts also have an influence on a person’s tiredness.

  4. November 28, 2011 at 3:48 am

    I never knew that but it definitely makes sense! I agree with everyone that no matter what on Thanksgiving, a “food coma” is inevitable. But ms is right, it might not even be a “food coma,” but just plain exhaustion. Cooking for and entertaining a big group of guests can definitely be tiring, and I’m sure the turkey plays a very small part of that. It’s funny that everyone blames the tryptophan. It is a good example of some inaccurate science knowledge getting out into the media and then the rest of the world, or a small instance being completey hyperbolized by society- which seems to happen a lot.

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