Every year your uncle uses tryptophan — an amino acid found in turkey — as the reason he ends up snoozing in your spot on the couch after Thanksgiving dinner. But this year, we're arming you with a little knowledge to combat the myth and reclaim your prime football-viewing positioning.
Myth BustedThere is a kernel of truth to the high levels of tryptophan in turkey, says Dr. Christine Alexander, MetroHealth Medical Center family medicine chair. But there's just as much in seafood. "For tryptophan to make you sleepy, it has to turn into a hormone called melatonin," she says. "But that process doesn't happen fast enough for people to get sleepy [after dinner]."
Tough Stuffed Rapid spikes and dips in blood sugar can result in grogginess, so all those Thanksgiving sides — sweet potatoes, stuffing and homemade rolls — have just as much to do with sleepiness as turkey, says Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute dietician Kristine Kirkpatrick. "We are eating things that are incredibly high in carbohydrates and sugar," she says. "And then we're overeating those things."