Thanksgiving is upon us! We’re heaping our plates with the traditional turkey and a fabulous array of side dishes, enjoying family and feasting. It seems the perfect time of year to address one of the most commonly perpetrated food-and-sleep myths out there: Does turkey make you sleepy?
Good News for the Thanksgiving Indulgers…
The answer to that nagging question is, believe it or not, “no” – according to National Geographic and many other credible sources. There is tryptophan in turkey, which is a mild sleep-inducing agent in a pure form. But as part of the total Thanksgiving feast, the tryptophan in turkey can’t reach the human brain; it’s transported by a single system shared by many amino acids, and has to be eaten on an empty stomach to be properly absorbed.
Eating foods that are high in tryptophan may actually cause blood levels of tryptophan to rise, but not enough tryptophan gets to the brain to create drowsiness. And turkey doesn’t contain a particularly high level of the soporific amino acid; soybeans and beef both have higher concentrations of tryptophan.
The sleepiness we experience after a big Thanksgiving feast has more to do with the volume of food we’ve consumed, combined with holiday stresses and (potentially) an alcoholic beverage or two.
At the end of the day, maybe it’s not so important why we feel contented and ready to doze after our Thanksgiving feast. Just sit back and enjoy the holiday… and Happy Thanksgiving!