It’s that time of year again when we stuff our faces with turkey and pumpkin pie, and then slowly drift into a food-coma on the couch. Man, life is good!
Like clockwork, we also blame the turkey for our post-Thanksgiving meal grogginess. But the idea that turkey contains a lot of tryptophan (sleep-inducing amino acid) is a myth. It has about the same amount as beef or chicken.
What really did us in was that second plate of mashed potatoes and other heavy carbs, here’s how:
When the food arrives to your belly:
There is an increase in activity from our parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for our “fight-or-flight” response) and there is a decrease in our sympathetic nervous system (which gets our organs ready for digestion).
In short, our body wants to sort out what’s in our stomach which is why we don’t feel like moving when we’re so full.
When you start digesting your food:
Your blood stream receives a big rush of glucose, and your body reacts by creating insulin to absorb this glucose. This insulin increases the concentration of tryptophan.
Our brains convert the excess tryptophan into serotonin, which is then converted to melatonin – both resulting in feeling sleepy.
Because we ate a lot more than just turkey – digesting all that food takes a lot of energy. So, our nervous system and brain’s want us to sleep. Who's to say a little post-Thanksgiving nap is wrong? Not us... Happy Thanksgiving!