Myth: Turkey makes you sleepy? - FIT Human Performance

Myth: Turkey makes you sleepy?


November 22, 2015 – 

TurkeyNapTurkey has an amino acid called Tryptophan. It’s an essential amino acid, one the body can’t make by its self. The body has to get tryptophan and other essential amino acids from food.

Tryptophan is like a natural sedative. Tryptophan helps the body produce the B-vitamin niacin, which, ­in turn, helps the body produce serotonin, which acts as a calming agent in the brain and plays a key role in sleep. But nutritionists and other experts say that the tryptophan in turkey probably won’t trigger the body to produce more seroton­in because tryptophan works best on an empty stomach.

It’s worth noting that other foods contain as much or more tryptophan than turkey, including chicken, pork, and cheese. As with turkey, other amino acids are present in these foods besides tryptophan, so they don’t make you sleepy. The tryptophan in a Thanksgiving turkey has to vie with all the other amino acids that the body is trying to use. So only part of the tryptophan makes it to the brain to help produce serotonin.

Usually, after people eat a lot of food ( almost any food), they feel sleepy. I think that eating turkey and having your body digest it really takes up a lot of energy. Good news is that the digestion is a metabolic spike!

The real truth .. fat and proteins are the hardest nutriments to digest. Eat a big fat steak (or in this case, a big fat turkey) and you’ll feel like sleeping as your body starts digestion and that’s a lot of work. Fats also take a lot of energy to digest, so the body will redirect blood to your digestive system to tackle the job. Since you have less blood-flow elsewhere, you will feel less energetic after eating a meal rich in fats. And speaking anatomically, if you are full (belly full of food) the pressure at the top of your hips almost screams at you to crease the hip to give it more space to bulge. Creasing the hip … in other words sitting down. Good thing there are a few good NFL games on to relax while resting from the big meal!

Anyway, have a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving … and nap!

In good health,


“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”
― Oscar Wilde