March 11, 2019 2 min read

It's a little early for turkey talk; but it's national napping day, so we can talk about whether turkey ACTUALLY makes you tired!


The belief is that tryptophan, naturally found in turkey, is the culprit for your desire to take a nap after a Thanksgiving meal.


In reality, it's probably because you overrate, drank a little and/or are finally relaxing from a day off work.


It's not the tryptophan.


So what actually is it and what does it do?


Tryptophan is an amino acid found in MANY types of food, such as chicken, beef, yogurt, eggs and even mozzarella cheese.


It's considered an essential amino acid as our bodies cannot make it ourselves. Once ingested, our bodies convert it into 5-HTP, which can than be turned into serotonin, melatonin and vitamin B6.


Melatonin is a hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle and serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates your sleep. This is why it is believed to be the cause of your sleepiness after eating.


The trick is that the only way for the tryptophan to actually cause drowsiness is if you didn't eat it with ANYTHING else and the brain had no other amino acids to sort through for conversion. THEN the brain can convert it into melatonin and serotonin; but with all the other food items you eat during the meal, there's too many amino acids to convert at once.


So it's extremely unlikely that turkey is the cause of your drowsiness.


Maybe consider eating a little less next time - that way you can have energy to have that most desired political debate with your Aunt Barb. ;)