Is There Something in Turkey That Makes You Sleepy?

Thanksgiving Dinner

The tryptophan reaction
The tryptophan reaction
2007 HowStuffWorks

Most likely, it's the whole traditional Thanksgiving meal that can produce that after-dinner lethargy. The meal is quite often heavy and high in carbohydrates -- from mashed potatoes, to bread, stuffing and pie -- and your body is working hard to digest that food. After all, the average Thanksgiving meal contains 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat [source: Meeks]. Also, if you drink alcohol with your dinner, you'll likely feel its sedative effect, too.

But there is a way to take advantage of the tryptophan in turkey. If you have trouble getting to sleep one night while there's still leftover turkey in the refrigerator, you could have a late snack of turkey and that, nutritionists say, might be the right amount of tryptophan on an empty stomach to help produce some serotonin.

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More Great Links


  • "Ask Dr. Weil: Tired After Turkey?" Nov. 26, 1996.
  • Brock, N. Meeks. "Since Plymouth, Thanksgiving Day has seen its share of controversy." Nov. 23, 2004. MSNBC.
  • Farley, Dixie. "Dietary Supplements: Making Sure Hype Doesn't Overwhelm Science." U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • United States Census Bureau. Nov. 23, 2006.