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HomeHealthThe Science of Thanksgiving: Why Some Foods May Cause Sleepiness

The Science of Thanksgiving: Why Some Foods May Cause Sleepiness


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Do you consider within the vacation meals coma?

Many folks do. A mainstay on the dinner desk right now of yr, turkey accommodates tryptophan, which is broadly believed to be accountable for the uncontrollable yawns and sudden snoozes widespread after enormous household feasts.

“Tryptophan is an essential amino acid needed to make serotonin, a hormone that has many functions in our body, including balancing mood and sleep,” mentioned sleep specialist Dr. Raj Dasgupta, an affiliate professor of medical medication on the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.

“The byproduct of the tryptophan-to-serotonin process is melatonin, another hormone that regulates our sleep cycle,” he mentioned. “Our bodies do not naturally produce tryptophan, so we have to get it through the foods we eat.”

However, many meals apart from turkey include tryptophan, together with cheese, hen, egg whites, fish, milk, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans and sunflower seeds, in accordance with the National Library of Medicine.

Serotonin is among the “feel-good” hormones, which may calm and loosen up the physique. However, we don’t eat almost sufficient turkey throughout a vacation smorgasbord — even when we return for seconds — to create the quantity of serotonin wanted to make us sleepy, mentioned Steven Malin, an affiliate professor within the division of kinesiology and well being at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

To get the quantity of tryptophan required to trigger a meals coma, he mentioned, we’d need to eat about 8 kilos of turkey meat — about half of a typical hen meant to serve a crowd. The US Department of Agriculture recommends planning for 1 pound of turkey meat per individual when making ready a vacation meal.

“Tryptophan from turkey is unlikely to enter the brain and make enough serotonin to make us sleepy,” Malin mentioned.

So you’ll be able to’t blame the gobbler in your desk alone on your sudden sleepiness, mentioned sleep specialist Kristen Knutson, an affiliate professor of neurology and preventive medication at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

“Turkey doesn’t really make us sleepy,” Knutson mentioned. “If we feel sleepy after a big meal, it is likely due to not getting enough sleep in the days leading up to the big event and finally being able to relax after the dinner is over.”

Overeating basically can also be a significant perpetrator for the fatigue one feels after consuming, Dasgupta mentioned.

“Remember all the delicious side dishes surrounding the centerpiece of turkey, such as sweet potato pie, casseroles and yummy desserts,” he mentioned. “These tasty dishes contain a high amount of carbohydrates, which also contribute to post-meal sleepiness.”

Another cause you’re feeling sleepy after a meal is a change in blood move from the pinnacle to the digestive system.

“Eating a big holiday dinner causes increased blood flow to the stomach to help digest the meal, which results in less blood flow to the brain, making you tired and ready for bed,” Dasgupta mentioned.

And don’t neglect the influence of vacation consuming both. Many meals served right now of yr are washed down with wine, cocktails and champagne. Then there’s the omnipresent beer (or two or three) that always accompany the afternoon ball video games.

“Let’s be honest. It’s the holidays, and there might be some family stress or travel fatigue, so maybe you drank more than your usual amount,” Dasgupta mentioned. “Alcohol slows down your brain and relaxes your muscles, so after a few drinks you’ll likely feel sleepy.”


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