You’ve probably been told this before – that the reason you feel so tired after a Thanksgiving feast is due to the turkey. Keep reading as we breakdown the ultimate sleeping myth below.
The famous turkey myth stems from the fact that turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, which forms the basis of brain chemicals that will make you tired. Therefore, if you eat a lot of turkey, you’ll feel the need for a nap soon after. However, this myth is officially busted – Turkey isn’t more sleep inducing than other foods like so many think!
Let’s get started by breaking down tryptophan. Tryptophan is a component of serotonin, which is converted into the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Poultry and many others foods contain this amino acid, all in similar amounts to that found in turkey. When comparing gram-to-gram, cheddar cheese actually has more tryptophan than turkey!
Knowing that turkey has similar levels of tryptophan as many other foods, it’s not really the reason you feel so sleepy after the holiday meal. Rather it’s the loads of carbohydrates that are consumed that make you want to snooze, and as we all know, it’s not Thanksgiving unless you eat ‘til you’re stuffed! When you consume carbs, this triggers the release of insulin, which removes a majority of amino acids from the blood- but NOT tryptophan.
This allows tryptophan to enter the brain to form serotonin and eventually melatonin. What does this mean? In a nutshell, any large meal you consume that contains tryptophan and a high level of carbs can trigger increased sleepiness. There are also other factors during the holidays that have you feeling sleepier more than usual – drinking alcohol, stress, and overworking before Turkey Day.
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