The only time I hear the word “tryptophan” enter everyday discussion is in November, when people are preparing to go into their apparent turkey-induced sleep hazes after Thanksgiving dinner.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that is important for making serotonin, and some serotonin gets converted into melatonin, which is where this sleepy myth is founded. However, you may be surprised that tryptophan is found in all meats. There is nothing extreme about the amount of tryptophan in turkey versus other meats. In fact, pork chops contain more tryptophan than turkey! Yet, you rarely hear, “Wow, I just ate a pork chop. I need to take a nap!”
Instead of tryptophan, here are some more likely reasons you might be extra-sleepy post Thanksgiving:
• Increased alcohol consumption
• Increased consumption of high-carbohydrate foods and calories
• Increased stress from travel or family
• And, if you’re traveling, lower quality of sleep the night prior due to being in a different bed than your own
Rather than blaming the turkey when you plop down on the sofa to watch football and listen to another repeat story of the time Uncle Eddie rescued a cat from a tree, put on your sneakers and walk around the block. It’s a great way to wake your body back up.
What do you do to fend off the post-Thanksgiving coma?