In the last two weeks, I’ve had about a million people ask me if turkey can make you tired. Let me tell you, all at once, that turkey dinners have received an unwarranted reputation. It’s true that turkey contains an amino acid by the name of tryptophan. It’s also true that tryptophan is known for inducing sleep. Logically, one could come to the conclusion that turkey’s tryptophan makes you tired after Thanksgiving dinner. Scientifically, your post-feast fatigue is more likely derived from different sources.
In order to induce sleep, large amounts of tryptophan must reach the body’s neuro-center, the brain. To accomplish this, the tryptophan must be taken on an empty stomach. When consumed as part of a meal (like your Thanksgiving feast) tryptophan simply cannot produce sleep-inducing effects. According to National Geographic News, “Turkey isn’t even unusually high in tryptophan. Many foods, such as beef or soybeans, boast higher concentrations.” Given the facts, it’s still impossible to ignore the after-dinner burnout that Americans face on Thanksgiving Day.
If you find yourself fatigued among the festivities, it could be for several other reasons, including:
Stress can be very high during the holidays. After Thanksgiving dinner has finished, it’s typical to experience a drop in the overall pressure of the holiday. High stress levels can wear you out and by relaxing, you send messages to your brain that it’s okay to finally chill, maybe even take a nap.
Loss of sleep during the days (or even weeks) you spent preparing for the holiday could result in a crash after you sit down and take a moment to enjoy the couch.
Alcohol consumption before, during or after your meal can cause feelings of tiredness.
Overindulgence of any type of food will cause your body to slow down. Not only do we overindulge on Thanksgiving, but we do so with foods that are notoriously high in fat, sugar and carbohydrates. Your after-dinner coma is likely caused by your body’s attempt to digest all the junk- I mean food.
So, there you go. If you find yourself going to bed after Thanksgiving dinner, just don’t blame the bird.
November 10th, 2010