Is there a certain chemical in turkey that makes you tired after you eat it?I have heard a lot of myths about turkey and the reason you get sleepy after eating Thanksgiving dinner.  Is this...

Is there a certain chemical in turkey that makes you tired after you eat it?

I have heard a lot of myths about turkey and the reason you get sleepy after eating Thanksgiving dinner.  Is this latest one true?

Expert Answers
besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is a chemical in turkey that is called tryptophan (amino acid). Trytophan is a sedative which means that it does have the qualities to make a person tired and sleepy. It helps the body to produce serotonin which actually calms the body. Here is why the tryptophan in turkey does not generally cause sleepiness: the tryptophan is consumed with food. The body is using multiple amino acids at the same time so not all of the tryptophan that is consumed is used to produce serotonin. The truth of the matter is that turkey is usually consumed on Thanksgiving Day, along with a lot of other food. It is common to feel sleepy after a big meal. So it is probably not the tryptophan that makes us sleepy but the large quantities of food instead.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I believe that this is more of a myth than it is truth.  There is a compound in turkey that can, in the proper circumstances, make a person sleepy.  However, your typical Thanksgiving dinner does not meet the criteria for when this could happen.

The compound in turkey that could make you sleepy is called L-tryptophan.  This can make you sleepy when you metabolize it.  However, you have to take it on an empty stomach and without any other proteins.  Clearly, you are not likely to be eating your turkey on an empty stomach and with no other protein.

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