Before you say you're tired of talking about Thanksgiving, let's talk about why Thanksgiving might literally make you tired.

You might have heard it's the tryptophan in turkey that makes people sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner. Tryptophan is an amino acid naturally found in turkeys. It is linked to the brain chemical serotonin, which creates the sleep hormone melatonin.

But is tryptophan in turkey really the reason we doze off after Thanksgiving dinner? Or, is something else to blame?


To VERIFY, we looked at research on the reputable science blog Live Science, as well as the Kids Health organization and the fact-checking agency Snopes.


The sources agree -- tryptophan can contribute to drowsiness. But, the average turkey serving has 350 mg of tryptophan, and it usually takes 500 to 1,000 mgs to induce sleep.

Plus, foods like cheese and pork contain more tryptophan than turkey.

The biggest sleep culprits are carbohydrates and alcohol. They make you feel full. When you are overly full, there is increased blood flow to your stomach, and your metabolism works harder. That's why you feel like you are in a "food coma" and unable to move from the couch.

So, to avoid Thanksgiving drowsiness:

  • Don't eat on an empty stomach, because you might over-eat.
  • Drink water and take breaks during the meal to assess how full you are.
  • After the meal, take a walk outside instead of crashing on the couch.


Don't blame the bird for your Thanksgiving night nap. We verified the turkey, itself, shouldn't make you sleepy.


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