Does turkey make you drowsy?
When the last bite of turkey is consumed and the plates are cleared, the next item on the Thanksgiving agenda for many people is a nap. The tradition has given rise to a myth that turkey makes a person drowsy.
For years, conversations have placed the blame on the Tryptophan in the turkey. But that is not really the case either, said Darren Scott of the Oklahoma State University Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center.
“There’s really not that much more Tryptophan in turkey than in other poultry,” he said. “There is approximately a quarter of a gram per 100 grams of poultry.”
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid and is a nutrient people don’t normally produce in their bodies. Instead, it typically comes from foods consumed. Along with turkey, Tryptophan is found in red meat, almonds, chocolate, soy and some nuts.
The more likely culprit of drowsiness is basic science: Thanksgiving menus often contain a copious amount of foods high in sugars and carbohydrates.
“As we digest the turkey and the other carbohydrates, we indirectly influence the amount of serotonin we have in our brains,” Scott said. “The serotonin gets metabolized into melatonin and it’s the melatonin that scientists think actually makes us drowsy.”
So, feel free to take a post-Thanksgiving meal nap, just don’t blame it on the turkey.