The Truth About Thanksgiving and Drowsiness
Did you notice that after you ate your hearty meal this past Thanksgiving, you became overwhelmingly tired? Many people take naps or become sluggish after their Thanksgiving Day feast, and many people think it is because of the turkey they ate. Although the food that you eat on Thanksgiving can make you feel tired and drowsy, it may not be the reason you are sleepy after dinner. Turkey is very rich in tryptophan, which is an amino acid that induces drowsiness. So is the turkey responsible for the after-eating sleepiness? Most likely it is not.
There are other foods that have higher tryptophan content than turkey does, however they may not bring on the drowsy feeling at all. It is noted that to feel the full effects of tryptophan, a person would have to eat food containing tryptophan on an empty stomach. This will allow the amino acid to fully absorb into the blood stream. When eating food high in tryptophan and combining it with other types of food, there is a competition in the bloodstream. Proteins and other amino acids are entering the bloodstream, reducing the amount of tryptophan that is able to enter the brain. During a heavy meal, such as a Thanksgiving feast, you are ingesting a lot of carbs, proteins, calories and other nutrients that will also be absorbed by your body. This race to enter the bloodstream does not allow large amounts of tryptophan to reach the brain and induce sleep.
So what could be causing the fatigue we experience after the meal? That depends on who you ask…
Fatty foods can slow down the digestive system, making your body work a little harder to break down your meal. Since it takes a lot of energy to digest food, you may slowly find yourself becoming tired after eating a large meal.
Alcohol can attribute to your sleepiness, as it is a depressant. As you celebrate all that you are thankful for, you may indulge in some alcoholic beverages. Beware: alcohol has a sedative effect and may depress your central nervous system, leading to you becoming drowsy.
Over-eating is one of the most noted reasons we experience fatigue after a large meal, specifically Thanksgiving dinner. While tryptophan levels do rise when ingesting food rich with the amino acid, a great deal of blood is required to aid in the digestion process. Blood is redirected towards your stomach and digestive system, which will take away from the amount of blood that is reaching the brain. This can have a calming and sedative-like effect and lead to an afternoon nap.
Stress and errands can wind a person up during the days leading up to a holiday. For Thanksgiving, a lot of time and preparation is needed to cook, clean, and organize the festive family gathering. If you have been slaving over the stove day and night preparing the meal and running around like a mad-man getting the kids ready, your time of relaxation can induce drowsiness. Now that you’re seated, and your mind and body can relax, you may notice you really want to sleep.
There are many reasons to feel sleepy around the holidays, especially if you are hosting a festive family party! So don’t blame the turkey for your fatigue, it could be because you stuffed yourself! We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving mini-vacation and ate well! Tell us in the comments what you think made you tired this past Thanksgiving Day, and if you succumbed to a quick after-dinner nap.