Does Turkey Make You Sleepy?

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Does turkey make you sleepy? This age-old question has been the topic of debate during many Thanksgiving dinners. In this comprehensive blog post, we will delve into the science behind turkey meat and its potential effects on sleepiness.

Exploring the role of tryptophan in turkey, we'll look at how it competes with other amino acids for brain transporters and its connection to serotonin production. We'll also investigate how the presence of tryptophan in turkey can lead to serotonin generation, which is related to slumber.

Moving forward, we'll explore melatonin production and its connection to turkey consumption. Additionally, we will consider other factors that may affect melatonin levels in your body.

Overeating during Thanksgiving dinner can lead to post-meal lethargy; therefore, we will investigate the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system during overeating and associated health risks. To help combat this issue, we'll provide tips for preventing overeating during holiday dinners.

Beyond just turkey meat, our discussion will include common sources of dietary tryptophan found in other protein-based foods as well as individual differences in tryptophan metabolism. Finally, we’ll analyze how daylight hours impact sleepiness after a large meal by considering seasonal changes affecting sleep patterns and environmental factors contributing to post-meal lethargy.

By understanding these various elements related to eating turkey and their influence on drowsiness, you can determine whether or not does turkey make you sleepy holds any truth for you personally while enjoying your next big meal.


The Role of Tryptophan in Turkey and Sleepiness

Is turkey really to blame for your post-Thanksgiving meal coma?

Contrary to common thought, consuming turkey does not necessarily cause immediate drowsiness due to its tryptophan content.

Tryptophan competes with other amino acids for brain transporters, so it may have difficulty crossing into the brain.

Tryptophan can be converted to serotonin, the neurotransmitter that controls sleep cycles, but this transformation depends on various factors.

While turkey does contain tryptophan, consuming large amounts of it alone isn't likely to cause immediate drowsiness.

So go ahead and enjoy that turkey sandwich without fear of falling asleep at your desk.

Melatonin Production and Its Connection to Turkey Consumption

Contrary to the common assumption, ingesting turkey does not guarantee an upsurge in melatonin production as the transformation from tryptophan to melatonin is intricate and affected by a variety of elements.

The Intricate Process of Melatonin Production

The transformation of tryptophan to melatonin necessitates multiple chemical transformations, thus making it hard to upsurge melatonin concentrations through dietary decisions exclusively.

Factors Affecting Melatonin Production

  • Light Exposure: Natural light exposure plays a significant role in regulating melatonin production and our sleep-wake cycles.
  • Genetic Factors: Individual genetic differences can affect melatonin synthesis and metabolism, impacting sleep patterns.
  • Lifestyle Choices: Caffeine, alcohol, and lack of exercise can negatively impact melatonin production, emphasizing the importance of good sleep hygiene practices.

Therefore, while tryptophan is a precursor to melatonin, consuming turkey alone does not guarantee an increase in melatonin levels, and other factors must be considered.

Thanksgiving Overeating: The Real Culprit Behind Post-Meal Lethargy

Feeling sleepy after a holiday feast? It's not the turkey to blame, it's your own excessive eating.

Overeating activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which can lead to fatigue as our bodies focus on digestion rather than other activities.

Excessive consumption during holiday dinners can lead to weight gain, gastrointestinal discomfort, and inflammation.

Prevent overeating by eating healthy snacks before the main meal, monitoring alcohol consumption, and maintaining regular exercise routines.

Prevent Overeating During Holiday Dinners with These Tips

Don't let holiday dinners leave you feeling lethargic and unhealthy - try these strategies:

Snack Smart Before the Main Meal

Nibble on nutrient-dense snacks like fruits, veggies, or whole-grain crackers with hummus or yogurt dip to curb your appetite and resist temptation.


Monitor Alcohol Consumption

Set limits on drinks or alternate between alcoholic beverages and water to avoid increased hunger and cravings.

Maintain Regular Exercise Routines

Engage in physical activities for 150 minutes each week, such as brisk walking, swimming, cycling, yoga, dancing or resistance exercises.

Pace Yourself While Eating

Savor each bite by taking smaller bites and chewing thoroughly to prevent overeating.

Practice Mindfulness During Mealtime

  • Focus on the flavors: Appreciate the taste and texture of each dish.
  • Eat without distractions: Avoid electronic devices or TV to fully concentrate on your food.
  • Listen to your body signals: Pay attention to feelings of hunger and fullness, stopping when satisfied.

These tips can help prevent overeating while still enjoying festive treats in moderation.

Tryptophan in Other Protein-Based Foods

Don't blame the turkey for your post-Thanksgiving food coma - tryptophan is found in other protein-based foods like cheese, chicken, fish, milk, peanuts, and egg whites.

Common sources of dietary tryptophan besides turkey

  • Cheese: Cheddar or mozzarella are cheesy options for tryptophan intake.
  • Chicken: This bird is not just for frying - it also has high levels of this nutrient.
  • Fish: Fatty fish like salmon and tuna provide an excellent source for non-poultry options.
  • Milk: A glass of warm milk before bedtime isn't just an old wives' tale - the beverage contains considerable quantities of L-tryptophan.
  • Peanuts: Nuts such as peanuts are another great option for incorporating more tryptophans into your meals or snacks.
  • Egg whites: Rich in protein, egg whites also boast substantial levels of L-tryptophan.

Individual differences in tryptophan metabolism

Just as our bodies respond differently to various foods, some people may metabolize L-tryptophan more efficiently than others, affecting their level of drowsiness after consuming food items containing this amino acid compound.

Genetic factors can play a role in how your body processes L-tryptophan, with certain gene variations affecting the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin - the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood and sleep. Moreover, gut health also influences how well you absorb nutrients from food, including essential amino acids like tryptophan.

If you suspect that your body is not processing tryptophan effectively or if you experience unusual drowsiness after eating protein-based foods, it might be worth consulting a healthcare professional. They can help determine whether any underlying issues are contributing to these symptoms and recommend dietary adjustments or supplements if necessary.

Incorporating diverse sources of tryptophan-rich foods into your diet allows for balanced nutrient intake while minimizing potential adverse effects related to excessive consumption of specific food items. By understanding individual differences in metabolism and exploring alternative options beyond turkey, one can enjoy a variety of delicious dishes without compromising their energy levels during festive celebrations.

The Impact of Daylight Hours on Sleepiness After a Large Meal

Feeling sleepy after a big meal during fall and winter months is common due to changes in daylight hours affecting our circadian rhythms.

Seasonal changes affecting sleep patterns

Reduced sunlight exposure in colder months can lead to lower serotonin levels, which affects mood and melatonin production, the hormone responsible for inducing drowsiness (source).

  • Serotonin: Regulates mood and happiness; produced with sunlight exposure.
  • Melatonin: Regulates sleep-wake cycles; produced during darkness.

Environmental factors contributing to post-meal lethargy

High-calorie foods and drinks at holiday gatherings can cause blood sugar spikes and drops, leading to fatigue (source). Engaging in stimulating conversations can also drain energy.

Tips for combating seasonal sleepiness after large meals

  1. Stay active: Boost serotonin levels with regular physical activity.
  2. Maintain a balanced diet: Consume nutrient-dense foods for optimal energy.
  3. Prioritize restful sleep: Stick to a consistent bedtime schedule and create a relaxing sleep environment.

FAQs in Relation to Does Turkey Make You Sleepy

Why does eating turkey make you sleepy?

Turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid that increases serotonin production and can contribute to sleepiness, but overeating and the parasympathetic nervous system also play a role. Learn more about how food affects your sleep.

Does turkey really make you sleepy?

Not on its own, but when combined with other foods, especially carbs, and eaten in large amounts, turkey can contribute to post-meal drowsiness. Find out why turkey makes you sleepy.

What chemical in turkey makes you tired?

Turkey contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps produce serotonin and melatonin, which regulate mood and sleep. Read more about tryptophan and its effects.

Is the tryptophan in turkey a myth?

No, turkey does contain tryptophan, but so do many other protein-based foods. The idea that turkey alone causes drowsiness is a myth, as other factors like overeating and alcohol consumption also contribute. Get the truth about tryptophan.


While tryptophan in turkey may play a role in drowsiness, other factors like serotonin and melatonin production, overeating, and alcohol consumption can also contribute to feeling lethargic after a big meal.

To avoid overindulging during holiday feasts, snack on healthy options beforehand, limit alcohol intake, and stick to your exercise routine. And don't worry, you can still get your tryptophan fix from other protein sources like chicken, fish, and tofu.

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