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Does Turkey Make You Sleepy? Yes...and No

Posted By: Layla

Does Turkey make you sleepy? a simple "YES" or "NO" simply won't do.

Does Turkey Make You Sleepy?  Yes...and No

Food coma noun (also known as postprandial somnolence): an intense, sudden feeling of fatigue and drowsiness following the noble act of eating a large amount of food. Most commonly seen on Thanksgiving Day.

Ever wondered why all you want to do after Thanksgiving dinner is unbutton your pants and take a nap? You’re not alone! Surveys show that over half of Americans can be found in a so-called “food coma” after the meal. Many people believe that something in the turkey makes napping inevitable after Thanksgiving dinner, as compared to your average meal. Besides the fact that you just ate a lot of delicious food, feeling tired is all the turkey’s fault, right?

Turkey dinner with text "Is it the turkey or the stuffing? "


We did some research and discovered that yes, the amino acid found in turkey – tryptophan – can cause drowsiness. However, the numbers prove that turkey’s innocence.  There isn’t enough tryptophan in your Thanksgiving Day turkey consumption to make you sleepy. There are foods we consume on a daily basis that contain more tryptophan than does a slice of turkey. So who’s to blame?

It’s not the turkey, it’s you that’s getting stuffed. It’s not the turkey, it’s you that’s getting stuffed.


Tryptophan has a very specific action in the body. Ultimately, this amino acid aids in producing serotonin in the brain – a neurotransmitter that affects sleep.  But did you know that tryptophan is one of the last things to make it to the brain where all of this takes place? Here’s the plot twist…CARBS to the rescue! When you eat carbohydrates, like grains or fruit, your body releases insulin – a hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels, and a vehicle that takes tryptophan to the front of the line. This means a higher level of tryptophan in the brain quickly, which also means more serotonin and a greater effect on sleep.

If you’re feeling sleepy after the biggest feast of the year, it’s likely due to the carbohydrates you ate. Instead of the turkey, we’re now eyeing the pie, potatoes, and stuffing as culprits of our food coma-induced napping.

*The information provided here is in no way intended to change the Thanksgiving Day napping tradition practiced by so many dedicated eaters. Carry-on, dreamers! You can rest easy on a Layla Mattress if you decide to take a Thanksgiving nap. 

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