It turns out you can’t blame turkey for your Thanksgiving nap.
According to experts, holiday drowsiness can be caused by eating too much and exerting energy.
“Folklore has it that the tryptophan-rich turkey is the reason behind the prevalence of snoozers sprawled out in your living room after the leftovers are tucked away,” said Dr. Joan Salge Blake – a nutrition professor at Boston University.
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Blake explained that tryptophan can be converted by the brain to neurotransmitters such as serotonin, melatonin, and other amino acids. Since both these compounds are important in sleep regulation, it is quite natural that tryptophan was always blamed for Thanksgiving Day’s nap.
“But if you look a little further into the science (or lack of) behind this folklore, you will soon realize that this tryptophan theory just doesn’t make any physiological sense,” Blake said.
Turkey isn’t the only meat that contains tryptophan. Blake states that on average, roasted chicken breasts contain more tryptophan per gram than turkey.
Nutrition data published by the USDA’s FoodData Central database reports that a 100-gram serving of cooked chicken contains 362 milligrams of tryptophan while a 100-gram serving of cooked turkey contains 252 milligrams of tryptophan.
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The daily tryptophan allowance for an average adult can range between 250 and 425 milligrams, according to Joe Cohen – the CEO of SelfDecode, an artificial intelligence-powered health report app.
Cohen explained that “many people receive twice the recommended amount of tryptophan, without trying any meat, poultry or fish. “It’s difficult to not get the recommended dietary allowance of tryptophan – it doesn’t just come from turkey.”
Experts say that Thanksgiving is not the cause of tiredness. Instead, people may be experiencing exhaustion from a range of stressors.
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When you eat large amounts of food, like pumpkin pie and stuffing, it makes your digestive tract work harder. In order for your body to do all this extra work, some of your body’s blood supply is redirected away from your brain to the gut,” said Blake. This shifting of energy-rich blood between the brain and your gastrointestinal tract could cause tiredness. The sedative properties of alcohol are also present.”
Blake added, “Let’s not also forget all of the extra work that goes into creating Thanksgiving. It takes so much time to prepare and cook the meals that anyone would be tempted to curl up on the sofa after a meal.
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A lack of sleep could cause Thanksgiving fatigue.
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“The overeating can make one feel tired or lethargic if they are lacking sleep, to begin with,” said Robert Pagano – who is a certified sleep science coach and co-founder of Sleepline, a mattress review company. Because their bodies aren’t used too much carbs, eating too many can lead to fatigue.