Post the traditional Christmas roast turkey, many a knowledgeable uncle up and down the land can be heard asserting that it's due to the Tryptophan-rich turkey that Grandad has nodded off...
According to Uncle Bob, it's the Tryptophan in turkey that makes us all feel sleepy.
Here at The Snoozery, we've dug a little deeper into this "fascinating" piece of avuncular trivia and can reveal that Uncle Bob hasn't got it quite right.
Yes, there is Tryptophan - an essential amino acid - in turkey, but no more so than in most other protein-rich foods such as eggs, cheese, yoghurt, meat, poultry as well as many plant proteins.
It's the combination of the Tryptophan-rich protein and carbohydrates that make us feel sleepy after Christmas Dinner.
So - in basic terms - it works like this:
- The Tryptophan (stored and just consumed) combines with carbohydrates to produce Serotonin
- When Serotonin levels are high, you're in a better mood, have a higher pain tolerance, and sleep better
- The Serotonin is then further metabolised into Melatonin
- Melatonin is the hormone that helps to control your sleep and wake cycles
- The increase in Melatonin then affects your sleep-wake cycle (or circadian rhythm) by chemically causing drowsiness and lowering the body temperature
- You feel sleepy.
The red wine can also make us feel drowsy.
Sleep tight and Happy Christmas!