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Turkey and sleep - Myth or fact?

So what is all this about sleepiness after the big holiday meal about? Many people out there have attributed certain foods; namely, turkey to be the culprit of excess sleepiness during the holiday (link to . IN fact turkey does have small amounts of tryptophan in it, but research shows that this basic amino acid (which helps eventually produce serotonin) must be taken on an empty stomach.

IN fact, you would likely need to eat a 40 lb. turkey to get enough tryptophan to really make a difference and as I said with 40 lbs of turkey in your belly it still would not be effective. Tryptophan by itself was a popular supplement until there was an outbreak in the early 90’s of eosinophilia-myalgia, a syndrome that causes muscle pain and even death. I think 27 people actually died from it so the FDA banned it, but it is still being sold in Canada.

A more likely explanation for holiday sleepiness is the beer or wine you ate with dinner or while watching football while the meal was being prepared. ( I was pleased to see my Atlanta Falcons did well this holiday season). Another possibility could be the increase in carbohydrates (stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc.) which is causing an increase in insulin and blood sugar to compensate for the increase in food. This increased production has been shown to cause increases in sleepiness.

Related Topics: Foods that Fight Winter Depression, Food for Moods


The opinions expressed in WebMD Second Opinion are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Second Opinion are... Expand


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