Turkey makes your drowsy - myth or fact?

Turkey makes your drowsy – myth or fact?

You’ve probably heard the widely accepted “fact” that a natural chemical in turkey meat called l-tryptophan triggers the drowsiness that so many experience after Thanksgiving dinner. But if you go looking for the details behind this fact, you’ll find evidence that both supports it and debunks it as a myth.

So here’s the real deal…

Turkey does contain l-tryptophan – a sleep-inducing amino acid. But l-tryptophan in turkey meat is not so concentrated that a couple of slices will make you drowsy. In fact, you’d have to eat turkey on an empty stomach for the l-tryptophan to have any noticeable effect.

An empty stomach? On Thanksgiving? I don’t think so.

If you share this information with your loved ones at the dinner table and find that someone won’t be dissuaded from the “turkey = sleepy” myth, you can settle the discussion with this fact: Chicken contains more l-tryptophan than turkey. And yet you never hear anyone say, “Boy, that plate of Buffalo wings made me sleepy.”

So what is it about Thanksgiving dinner that makes us sleepy? Simple: It’s the simple carbohydrates.

When we eat large portions of simple carbs (such as mashed potatoes, stuffing, and a slice of pumpkin pie piled high with whipped cream), most people respond with a blood sugar spike that increases blood flow to the digestive tract. Add a glass or two of wine and you have the perfect Thanksgiving recipe for drowsiness.

I hope you thoroughly enjoy your meal tomorrow as we celebrate all the wonderful (and healthy) things we have to be thankful for. Eat well, be merry, and have a nice nap.