Does eating turkey really make you sleepy?

29 Nov Does eating turkey really make you sleepy?

With Christmas fast approaching and thanksgiving just been in the USA, a lot of people have eaten or planning to having a large turkey dinner.  Is it just a big Christmas lunch, a few drinks and a lot of socialising that tires us out? Or is there something in particular about Turkey that leads to the sleepiness?

Well turkey does contain an amino acid called L-tryptophan which has a documented sleep inducing affect.  It is also used in the body to produce Niacin (a B-vitamin) and can be metabolised into serotonin and melatonin which are neurotransmitters that create a calming effect and also help to regulate sleep.   So yes, Turkey in particular makes you sleepy!

However a lot of the other food in a big Christmas lunch or dinner will make you tired by really allowing the tryptophan to be metabolised.  Carbohydrate rich food such as potatoes and stuffing will cause an increase in blood sugar levels in which insulin is released to mediate the transport into the cells of the body for storage.  When this occurs, some amino acids that compete with tryptophan will leave the bloodstream and so a higher relative concentration of tryptophan will be left.

A big meal also re-directs blood around the body to the digestive system so it can work properly.  Having less blood elsewhere will leave you feeling less energetic, particularly when the big meal is high in fat which is often the case with roast dinners.

Add on a few beers and their known depressive effect on the central nervous system and you are looking like an afternoon nap is on the table.

Finally after all the excitement is over and you get a chance to relax in the afternoon, with all these things adding up it is very common to have a quite kip on the couch.  After all it is the festive season!

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