Why Does Turkey Make You so Sleepy?

Everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving has their own favorite part about the day. The food, the time spent with friends and family, the football, the time off from work, there’s plenty of things to enjoy. For some, it’s the nap that comes after so much turkey. But why does turkey make us so tired? Or is it the turkey at all?


The tryptophan in turkey is commonly blamed for making you drowsy. However, tryptophan is found in other foods, like cheese, chicken, fish, milk, peanuts, egg whites, and more, and they don’t have the reputation of promoting sleepiness like turkey does. What exactly is tryptophan you ask? It’s an amino acid that helps in the production of proteins that the body uses to grow and repair tissue. Tryptophan can also become serotonin, the brain chemical that calms and can cause sleep. However, there are other factors at play for tryptophan to become serotonin, and one of those is consuming pure carbohydrates (hello rolls and mashed potatoes!).


All in all, don’t blame the turkey for your post-meal nap. Even vegetarians can feel a little sluggish after their Thanksgiving meal. When consuming so much food in one sitting, your metabolism changes to be able to digest the increased intake. Your brain signals the rest of your body to “slow down” while digestion takes priority. There is also a change in glucose and insulin levels that can result in a sluggish feeling. Add in travel, holiday stress (family drama anyone?), a day full of cooking, and alcohol consumption, and you have the recipe for one perfect nap.


Not one to take naps and don’t want to feel drowsy after your Thanksgiving meal? Slow down while eating, don’t overeat, and don’t feel like you have to eat one of everything that is served. Except dessert…always eat dessert.


Happy Thanksgiving from Mattress Warehouse!



Lauren Smalley