When you think about Thanksgiving, your first thought is probably like most, images of food and families gathering together, and don’t forget about the large turkey as your dinner table centerpiece.
I am sure for years you have also associated Thanksgiving with the thought of eating until you fall asleep. We have all experienced that laziness after eating Thanksgiving dinner and blamed it on the turkey because of the tryptophan. This is the go-to amino acid when you are in need of sleep. In reality, the turkey you are eating does not contain that large of an amount of tryptophan to make you feel drowsy after dinner.
In fact, turkey is a key source of our energy we use to stay up for that desert. Turkey is a good source of protein for your body and consuming protein will raise your body’s blood levels of amino acids. In this case, your body would have less tryptophan and give you that extra energy wanting to stay awake after dinner.
It is all the other side dishes that you are consuming that are affecting your body and brain; making you feel sleepy. All the carbohydrates from those mashed potatoes, bread and all the other goodies on the table release insulin. This lowers the levels of all amino acids in your bloodstream, except tryptophan. Now, with these high levels of tryptophan in your blood leading to the brain, it then converts into serotonin leaving you with that sleepy feeling after dinner.
Our bodies feel tired as well as our brains. After consuming more than our bodies are used to in one sitting, our digestive system has more work cut out for it. The sluggish feeling you might feel is because of your body working hard to break down all of that meal., leaving your body and brain fatigued.