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Smarter Health: The Low Down on The Post-Turkey Nap

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It's Turkey Week! According to, 46 million turkeys are eaten at Thanksgiving. That's a lot of gobble gobble being gobbled up...and a lot of post-turkey feast naps. But does the turkey meat cause that sleepiness or what? Someone else in our community also had that same question.

motherlover445 asks: Can you settle the debate in our house - why do we get so sleepy after eating turkey at Thanksgiving? My husband says it is due to the tryptophan, I say it is because we've been running around and eat a big meal and get that "crash" because of full bellies. Who's correct?

Yes, we all know that feeling and have seen the reclined bodies all over the house about 20 minutes after eating the Thanksgiving meal. And yes, we've all heard that tryptophan (which is an amino acid) is the snooze-inducer. But, friends, is a myth. It is not the tryptophan's fault, as it is found in many, many, many foods we consume everyday - other poultry, pork, eggs and so on.

So what does cause it? Probably a variety of things - the full belly being one of them, as we tend to eat much more than usual at one sitting at Thanksgiving. Add to that the carbohydrates we eat (stuffing, mashed potatoes) and possibly some wine, you've got the right recipe for naptime. Finish it up with the fact many of us were hard at work in the kitchen and are a tad exhausted, then -- bam! -- you're looking at some droopy eyelids.

So, if I have to settle the debate, I declare you the victor!

Do you get sleepy after the Thanksgiving feast?

Š NWPhotoguy 

by on Nov. 19, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Replies (41-50):
by on Nov. 20, 2012 at 7:58 PM
E en with a house full of people if this grandma sits down it nap time
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by on Nov. 20, 2012 at 8:03 PM

 I always get sleepy after eating Thanksgiving dinner.

by on Nov. 20, 2012 at 8:42 PM

I personally dont get sleepy after turkey dinner.

by on Nov. 20, 2012 at 8:46 PM
1 mom liked this

I'm so tired of reading about people who claim the tryptophan in the turkey is the reason.  Tryptophan is in plenty of foods, not just turkey.  Even then, you'd have to really overindulge in those foods for it to cause sleepiness.  Even then, it would likely be the overindulgence that causes the sleepiness, not the tryptophan.  Any large meal, with or without tryptophan, is going to tire you out because your body wants the time to process all the food.

Anyway, I don't generally get tired after eating at Thanksgiving.  I am careful about what I eat every day, not just on non-holidays.  What usually tires me out on T-Day is my family:  bickering, yelling, and generally driving me crazy.

by on Nov. 20, 2012 at 9:00 PM
Who told you it wasn't the triptofan? It is and always will be the cause of the fatigue
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by on Nov. 20, 2012 at 11:04 PM

I heard the sage in dressing does as well.

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by on Nov. 20, 2012 at 11:08 PM

I get sleepy before i even make the turkey. lol 

by on Nov. 21, 2012 at 7:53 AM

We do get sleepy. 

by on Nov. 21, 2012 at 10:05 AM

It's been proven on Mythbusters that it's not just because of tryptophan that people get sleepy on Thanksgiving after eating turkey. (Yes tryptophan does cause fatigue.) It's because they had just eaten a BIG meal. 

This is the full episode (link below) that was aired just the other day. You can skip through to the parts where Kari, Grant & Tory test the tryptophan theory. :o)

by on Nov. 21, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Not really

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