Does Christmas Turkey Make You Sleepy?


Christmas is nearly here so I thought I would address one of the most widely believed food myths, which is the idea that eating turkey can make you sleepy.

I find mostly, this is often used as an excuse to either not eat turkey, or a justification to take many naps during the day. While this myth is not true, there is some science to back up this belief.


Turkey contains Tryptophan-Β  Which is an essential amino acid which is used by the human body to build proteins and is needed for it to function properly and for good health.

Tryptophan I have found out that it is used in the process of making serotonin, which is a chemical, that is involved in the regulation of sleep patterns.

Tryptophan, in a purified form, will make you sleepy and has in the past been used in sleeping pills according to my research. However, it usually needs to be taken on an empty stomach, as different amino acids tend to compete for access to the brain.

If there are lots of different amino acids competing all at once, as they do after you eat meals, the amounts of Tryptophan reaching the right places wouldn’t be high enough to make you sleepy.

Just to take this further, many other foods contain Tryptophan, including most animal products like meats and cheese and even soy beans.

Beef contains more Tryptophan than turkey, but it is never blamed for sleepiness–probably because it is not associated with enormous holiday meals like turkey is.


Sleepiness Contributors
I find in general when a larger meal is eaten, it tends to make you sleepy regardless of what the meal contained. This is because digestive processes draw energy from other body functions, leaving you with an overall feeling of tiredness. Also, meals that are high in carbohydrates tend to increase an insulin surge, which can leave you feeling flat and tired after it passes.


Health Benefits of Turkey
Turkey is a very lean meat and the fats it does contain tend to be unsaturated, particularly if the skin is removed. It also provides a good amount of iron, B vitamins, zinc etc and of course more protein per ounce than chicken or beef. In fact, eating a small, high-protein meal, such as a salad with chopped turkey or a turkey sandwich is more likely to leave you alert and awake than a meal that is high in carbohydrates or sugars. Turkey is a “Super-Food” as it has superrrr healthy qualities.

While turkey does contain Tryptophan, it contains no more than other meats and less than some. Tryptophan, however, is not a factor that contributes to sleepiness after Christmas meal, Thanksgiving or any other time you eat it. Turkey is heart healthy and nutritionally dense, which makes it a good food to consider as a regular part of a healthy diet.


That’s it!
I hope you have found this myth debunk useful.
As always you’re more than welcome to leave a comment below, any questions same thing.
Until next time
Ciao πŸ™‚Β 


  1. Rob laurent December 11, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Oh I wish that myth was true.

    1. 1didieci December 11, 2015 at 11:07 pm


  2. David Goldstein December 11, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks. I was looking for an article on this. If there were a large sample of persons who were studied who ate just turkey as opposed to a control group who had another diet, it might be interesting to see what affect that has on sleep.

  3. Alan Edward December 11, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Must be the conversations that put me to sleep!

    1. 1didieci December 11, 2015 at 11:09 pm

      LOL maybe just don’t be blaming the turkey no more!

  4. Glen Peters December 11, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    I had the pleasure of enjoy a Thanks Giving Dinner just one time in my life, and it was a culturaly mixed one. I had a latin friend married to a n American and I was in a training program in NY. They invited me and I felt sleepy after dinner but I did not blame the turkey (or anithing else) but I rather thought it was the generous amount of wine we had to wash down all that food. DonΒ΄t you have spiritus drinks in Thanks Giving Day?

    1. 1didieci December 11, 2015 at 11:16 pm

      No I’m not American so I don’t celebrate it, but i would love to do so at some point.

  5. Jeff Williams December 13, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    Post meal drowsiness has always seemed to me to be related to a transfer of blood to the digestive tract. You only have so much blood so; it makes sense that other parts (think brain) would see less blood flow and shut down unnecessary functions.

    1. 1didieci December 14, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      Interesting Jeff Thanks for sharing.

  6. Elisa Montanez December 13, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    I have read this article and I am not impressed with this logic. I made a turkey (outside t-day) and every time I eat a sandwich or turkey salad, I have to lie down. I cant even force myself to stay awake. If I was driving I would have to pull over. I have proved this over and over. I am not talking just a 10 min nap. I am talking, feeling like I have taking an overdose of sleeping pills. Why, is this? Chicken don’t cause this. When I eat turkey I have to make sure I don’t need to be anywhere

    1. 1didieci December 14, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      Well no turk and drive for you then Elisa… thank you for telling us about your experience πŸ™‚


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