Turkey Dreams

First off, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

So instead of basing this post on the previous chapter, I thought it would be cool to find a neuroscientific article about Thanksgiving. I began thinking about the possible avenues to go about this and I remembered how everyone claims the tryptophan in the turkey causes them to sleep. Unfortunately,  I couldn’t find any scientific article, but I did find an article in the New York Times.

Tryptophan is an amino acid which acts as a precursor in the body to serotonin in the brain and is thought to play a role in sleep. Tryptophan tries and tries to cross the blood-brain barrier, but does so unsuccessfully. Thus, this is from where the myth stems. People believe that because they eat an excessive amount of turkey on days like today, the amount of tryptophan acts like a sleeping pill. However, this belief is false. Turkey actually has the same levels of tryptophan as any other poultry product and eating excessive amounts will not influence sleeping patterns. The cause of the drowsiness after a large Thanksgiving meal is due to the overeating. Apparently, for tryptophan to have any noticeable effect on the brain, tryptophan has to be consumed by itself and on an empty stomach.

Even though it may not be the turkey, it won’t stop me from having a lovely post-Thanksgiving nap!

2 thoughts on “Turkey Dreams

  1. It’s so crazy to be that myths like turkey will make you sleepy are so readily adopted by people. I can’t say I didn’t fall for it. It’s pretty scary that we are so accepting of medical/biological information and rarely take the time to think critically about these ideas. But for the record, eating a ton does make me tired!


  2. Haha I love this article, Sam! I guess “tryptofantastic” is not the appropriate response after a Thanksgiving nap, but, as Sara pointed out, it’s so interesting that society (myself included) accepts it so readily.


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