Eating turkey is a long-standing tradition that numerous families across the country partake of, to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. In addition to turkey, there are often other decadent food preparations, affectionately prepared by ambitions family members, eager to spend time together in feast with loved ones. After the table discussions, jokes, laughter and merciless belly stuffing of pies, casseroles and turkey, some people find themselves drowsy and lethargic. Eventually, they fall fast asleep just before buttering that last scrumptious biscuit. What causes after meal sleepiness? Many people believe eating the turkey causes that sleepy feeling.
Next, comes Grandma with her armchair nutritional expertise. The reason you are sleepy, she says, is because all that turkey you ate is loaded with tryptophan. That is what makes you drowsy. Everyone nods in agreement with Grandma. Yes, it must be the tryptophan.
Tryptophan is an amino acid. Amino acids are building blocks of proteins. The body cannot manufacture tryptophan on its own. Therefore, the diet must supply it. Turkey does have moderate amounts of tryptophan, but so does food-products such as cheese, yogurt, poultry, red-meat, fish and eggs.
For tryptophan to cause sleepiness, one has to eat foods that have significant amounts of it on an empty stomach and without other proteins or amino acids present. That is a task very difficult to do on Thanksgiving. Therefore it is not the turkey alone making people sleepy. In fact, turkey does not even contain significantly high concentrations of tryptophan, compared to similar foods. The problem then, most likely lies in consuming too much food.
According to Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, LPN, author of the Flexitarian Diet and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, if people are drowsy on Thanksgiving directly from eating turkey, then eating other tryptophan-rich foods like eggs, cheddar cheese and poultry should also produce that sleepy feeling state. “…turkey actually [contains] less tryptophan than chicken,” says Jackson Blatner.
Tryptophan is necessary for brain chemistry. It assists in creating serotonin, which is a brain chemical responsible for feelings of well-being. It also contributes to the bodily manufacturing of melatonin, a chemical in the brain responsible for regulating sleep cycles.
The likely reason people feel sluggish after participating in that Thanksgiving feast is excess carbohydrates and alcohol consumption. All those palette-pleasing desserts and tasty alcoholic beverages contribute most to finding a comfy couch to sleep on after feasting. Combined with scrumptious side dishes such as mashed potatoes, yams and cranberry sauce it becomes clearer why many people soon become sleepy after that Thanksgiving turkey dinner.
Eating turkey makes people sleepy is a myth. Web MD suggests that it is common for people to over eat and over indulge on Thanksgiving Day. When people over eat, it puts a strain on the digestive system. The process requires tremendous amounts of energy. “ [Do not] incriminate the turkey…you ate, instead incriminate the three plates of food…piled high and eaten.” Eat less and there will be less of a chance of passing out fast asleep on the nearest couch. However, many people might agree that falling asleep after a scrumptious Thanksgiving Day meal surrounded with family and loved ones is not such a bad thing.
By D’wayne Stanelli