Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas turkey makes you sleepy: True or false?

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! 

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