Do you believe the tryptophan in the turkey makes us want to sleep?

Does the turkey make us sleepy? - sleeping people
United States
November 13, 2007 7:51am CST
A response to one of my discussions started me on a search for this answer. I've always been curious about this so of course I had to check it out. For me almost any time I eat a large meal I tend to want to take a nap afterwards and I know I'm not alone in this. Eating large meals makes us tired, end of story. Is this not true for you?The best and most interesting site I found was actually the Urban Legends reference page.... http://www.snopes.com/food/ingredient/turkey.asp and I have to say I enjoyed all it had to say. I didn't realize that there tryptophan in milk (well I think I knew about the milk), beef, beans and other things we eat. In the 80's there was a medication L-tryptophan sold over the counter as a dietary supplement used for insomnia, depression, appetite control and pms. Did you know all of this about tryptophan? Do you believe that it's the "Turkey" that makes us sleepy after a large Thanksgiving dinner or is it just the fact that we ate a large dinner?
1 person likes this
12 responses
@xParanoiax (7005)
• United States
14 Nov 07
The amount of tryptophan in turkey is small, but eating quite a bit of it along with milk, and other foods at thanksgiving: those eggs which went into making coslaw or some sort of salad, the certain fruits which may also be in desserts or salads, that pumpkin pie, and in those peanut butter cookies. Alot of foods which we only eat at thanksgiving or mostly only at thanksgiving have doses of tryptophan in them. Put it all together, in a warm, happy atmosphere..and I think you've a recipe for sleepy-ness. I don't think it's the tryptophan alone, but everything put together.
1 person likes this
• United States
27 Nov 07
I believe you are right. It's more the amount of food we eat than what is in it.
• United States
14 Nov 07
I worked for GNC for about 6 years.. We used to sell alot of L-tryptophan and it does work very well.. but most of us binge eat during Thanksgiving.. at least I do..lol Taking in that many calories at once is the culprit.. aka.. "food comma" ha ha So yes, I think its the fact we ate a large dinner..:) Great question!
1 person likes this
@jennybianca (12918)
• Australia
14 Nov 07
I remember many years ago using tryptophan to help me sleep, & it worked. They took it off the market for some reason. I knew there was tryptophan in milk, but I hate milk. Now that's interesting that turkey has tryptophan. Is it a large amount? I would have thought that in most foods, there wasn't enough tryptophan to make a difference. I am curious now.
1 person likes this
• United States
27 Nov 07
I think it's more in the amount of turkey we eat than the amount that is in the turkey. Of course I could be wrong! lol!!!
@worldwise1 (14890)
• United States
13 Nov 07
I have heard all the claims about tryptophan, ctry, and I do believe they have some merit, however, I agree with you when you say that ANY large meal will make you drowsy and sleepy. I remember when my kids were growing up and we would all pass out wherever we landed following the huge holiday meals we enjoyed. I can no longer eat those huge meals but it was such great fun, LOL. I don't think the meals make you tired so much as they relax you completely. I have often wondered how people in bygone days could eat meals consisting of several courses without falling asleep at the table.
• United States
13 Nov 07
I remember those days too and they were really so much fun. Even the kids would pass out in front of the tv or wherever! lol...
@Debs_place (10551)
• United States
13 Nov 07
Well some of the people that I have eaten Thanksgiving with make me want to go to sleep. Just to get away from them. And I can believe that turkey makes me sleep, I always feel sleepy after eating Thanksgiving dinner and turkey. Chicken does not do that to me.
1 person likes this
• United States
13 Nov 07
If I eat a large chicken dinner with all the fixins' ...like any large meal I always want to nap afterwards. And, oh yes, some of the "guests" make me want to go to sleep too! lol...
@vicki2876 (5640)
• Canada
13 Nov 07
I don't know if it does or not. But I do know that I get sleepy when I over eat which I usually did when I ate turkey. I still get the sleepies when I over eat and say man I got the turkey effect though I haven't eaten any.
1 person likes this
• United States
13 Nov 07
lol....I get sleepy after eating any big meal so what's the big deal about turkey!
@aaidjs (1149)
• Croatia (Hrvatska)
13 Nov 07
Hello Dear!I don't know for the rest of the World but in my country and in all mediterranean country is a normal to have SIESTA after dinner!That mean that you go in bed after dinner and take nice two our sleep!! Regards Silvana
1 person likes this
• United States
13 Nov 07
It's now a tradition as such here in the US but just about everyone does it anyway so it may as well be. I think it should be!
@deebomb (15347)
• United States
13 Nov 07
I have heard about tryptophan in turkey making a person sleepy from several nutritionest on the radio. Yes I do believe that it is a lot about the amount of food we eat on thanksgiving as well as the turkey that makes us sleepy. Because we are haveing a good meal with family or friends we tend to not watch how much we eat and over indulge at this time.
• United States
13 Nov 07
Yes, this is the time of the year everyone starts talking about tryptophan. I find that funny since it's also in other foods so what's the big deal? I get sleepy after a Christmas dinner to and that's always ham!
@cher913 (25895)
• Canada
13 Nov 07
yes. my brother in law remarked on thanksgiving how tired he was after eating turkey and the next time we saw him, he said, see i knew it was the turkey (he had done research on the fact that this part of turkey can put you to sleep) which is why you need a nap after thanksgiving and christmas!
1 person likes this
• United States
13 Nov 07
I find it funny that even though we have ham for our Christmas dinner we still want to nap when we're done! So, I think it's the big meal and not so much the turkey.
@blueunicorn (2410)
• United States
13 Nov 07
I just read an article in a magazine that said that the amount of tryptophan in turkey is so little that there is no way it makes us want to sleep. Thanks for the snopes link! I love using them to check things out. I'm glad these two articles agree. The article I was reading says that we are sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner because of the size of the meal, and the fact that we eat SO many starches and sugars. Our bodies just crash.
1 person likes this
• United States
13 Nov 07
You're welcome for the link. I use snopes quite often myself and find it very interesting. I believe it is actually the meal and not just the turkey that makes our bodies want to sleep.
• United States
27 Nov 07
I don't feel we can fairly debate this excellent point you made because of two things: bloodtype and bodysize. The bloodtype factor would eliminate the 'just the tryptophan in the turkey' made me tired IF yours does not tolerate turkey as a main constituent in your diet. AB+'s can tolerate turkey with no 'tired' effects whereas O+ and O-'s cannot, it creates a serious lethargic experience. Also body size also has alot to do with lethargic experiences feeling super-tired with just eating a minimal amount. It is what we put in that it can tolerate or metabolize properly as well as what we do to kick start the energy transferrence or not . . .
@shmeedia (1042)
• Canada
5 May 08
i believe your answer is twofold. one, the turkey on its own doesn't have enough tryptophan to put us to sleep. it's actually the combination of turkey with all those starchy things we like to eat with it. (mmm....mashed potatoes). two, because we consume such large portions of everything during those occasions where turkey and starchy sides are served together, it makes the effect even more noticeable :) and yes, tryptophan is in milk too, but seems to only have the drowsy affect when heated. no wonder so many people have hot milk on their way to bed :)