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Does Turkey Make You Tired?

November 25, 2021



It’s a familiar feeling around Thanksgiving and Christmas. You’ve just finished eating a delicious roasted turkey, you may have even come back for seconds (or, let’s be honest, thirds) and now you feel so tired you can barely move from the couch.


“It’s the turkey,” says a relative. “Eating turkey makes you tired.” That can’t be true, right? But you do always feel exhausted after eating it. So, what’s the science behind this? Does turkey really make us doze off?


This rumor is often attributed to the fact turkey is stuffed with L-tryptophan, and many argue it’s this strand of Tryptophan that makes you tired. L-tryptophan is an amino acid, something our body can’t create itself and instead gets through the food we eat.


Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, an essential ingredient in our diets. According to WebMD, Tryptophan is used by the body to make niacin, a B vitamin that is important for digestion, skin, and nerves, and serotonin. Now it’s that serotonin, a brain chemical that helps make us feel happy – and notably a hormone that controls our sleep cycles – that’s key here.


L-tryptophan leads to serotonin, which in turn puts our body into a relaxed state. So in a way, yes, eating turkey will help you sleep. But that’s not the whole story.


In fact, when we compare turkey’s Tryptophan levels with other meats, they’re actually less than what we’d find in chicken. And do you always feel sleepy after eating some nuggets?


Tired After Turkey? It Could Simply Be Overeating


Scientists suggest the reason you feel tired on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day is because of overeating. Digesting food takes a lot of energy, and when you force your body to digest a lot of it, you’ll begin to feel very tired. Turkey is partly to blame here, but no more so than the potatoes or vegetables you’re having alongside it.


And that’s adding to the fact that although Christmas Day and Thanksgiving are two of the most wonderful days of the year, they’re also two of the most exhausting. Mentally, it’s tiring keeping up with conversation, making sure you’re being diligent hosts or polite guests. And if you’ve got children, well, say goodbye to Xmas morning! You’ve done well to not pass out on the couch before mealtime, let alone just afterward.


So, in short, does turkey make you tired? Technically yes, but so does eating any food as your body will have to use energy to digest it.


How Advanced Homecare Can Help You


If you or a loved one feel sleepy over the festive period, please check our guide for spotting sleep apnea. If you’ve been diagnosed, we can help you.


Since opening as a small team of three back in 2005, our mission at Advanced Homecare Online has been to provide the very best Sleep Apnea Treatments for our patients.


We specialize in one-on-one relationships. Our office team members and Patient Care Instructors are committed to educating their patients about their condition and understanding each patient’s specific needs.

We’re proud of what we do. Learn how we can help treat your sleep apnea now!


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