Thanksgiving is here and once again we will see pictures of turkeys and talk about “tryp-to-phan”. What is the origin of the word? I’m pretty sure it originated from the Greek word “phan” which means “couch”. And after you have a big turkey dinner, what do you do? You take a “trip-to-couch”. There you go!
So what is tryptophan, anyway? And why do people have a hard time staying awake after a Thanksgiving dinner? Tryptophan is an amino acid that the body uses in the processes of making vitamin B3 and serotonin, both which help to regulate our sleep.
It is not produced by our bodies, so we need to get it through our diet. We get these vitamins from turkey, of course, but also from other meats, chocolate, bananas, mangoes, dairy products, eggs, chickpeas, peanuts and a slew of other foods. Some of these foods, like cheddar cheese, have more tryptophan per gram than turkey. So next time someone gets tired after a big meal, and there is cheddar cheese on the table, you would be more right to say that it was the tryptophan from the cheddar cheese than from the turkey.
Usually, tryptophan doesn’t have much of an impact unless it’s taken on an empty stomach and in an amount larger than what we’re getting from our drumstick and a few pieces of white meat. That sounds like me. I am sure that a lot of people go into Thanksgiving dinner on an empty stomach and gorge themselves on turkey and a whole bunch of other stuff.
Do you want to know the real reason why you feel like having a nap after a big Turkey dinner? Don’t blame it on the bird; instead, blame it on the dishes that are rich in carbohydrates and on the alcohol. Too much of any spirit, wine or beer is bound to make you sleepy, at best, and grouchy or a dangerous driver at worst.
Overeating also has something to do with it and since the turkey is usually the biggest plate on the table, it usually gets all the blame and attention. It takes a lot of energy to digest a big feast (the average Thanksgiving meal contains 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat), so blood is sent to the digestive process system, leaving the brain feeling a little tired and looking for a place to rest: “trip-to-couch”.
So enjoy the meal, watch the carbohydrates and limit your alcohol intake for a safe Thanksgiving. If you get caught up in the festivities, remember you can always sleep it off on the couch. I am starting to yawn, just writing and thinking about it! I need a nap, where’s my blanket?
FOAMITE INDUSTRIES INC.
R.C. (Bob) Dimas
Be the best that you can be by doing whatever is necessary to improve the quality of your sleep!