Researchers say that we can blame turkey for many things, but one thing we CAN’T blame it for is that nap we always take after eating a big Thanksgiving dinner.
Some researchers say that tryptophan, an amino acid found in turkey, has proved itself to be an effective sleep aid, causing that post-Thanksgiving meal sleepiness. But poultry expert Scott Beyer says that while tryptophan can make people sleepy, it is not solely responsible for that post-Thanksgiving meal sleepiness.
Only a small percentage of tryptophan can be found turkey, Beyer says. The sleepiness caused after a Thanksgiving dinner probably has more to do with the actual meal, which is high in fat and carbohydrates, and if you had any alcohol with the meal.
Biochemist Delores Takemoto explains that tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin, a neurotransmitter produced in the brain that can affect mood. Serotonin can give you a calm and happy feeling, making you more relaxed and able to fall asleep easier.
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