One of America’s most honored Thanksgiving traditions is the post-feast nap. Turkey usually gets the blame for our drowsiness due to tryptophan, an essential amino acid that can be found in poultry. Tryptophan can trigger sleep when it is consumed on an empty stomach and without other amino acids or proteins (otherwise its ineffective). According to Stuart Lehrman, MD, a pulmonologist and Director of the Sleep Center at Westchester Medical Center, “At a standard Thanksgiving dinner, there are lots of types of amino acids/proteins, including others found in turkey, that would interfere with the effects of tryptophan. And obviously, you won’t have an empty stomach.” Overeating is a likely culprit for sleepiness. “When your stomach is full, the body shunts blood away from other body organs to aid in the digestion process,” Dr. Lehrman says. “The result may be a desire to retire to nap, especially if your meal was rich in fats and carbohydrates.” Other contributing factors include drinking alcohol or a long drive to the feast.
For more about sleep disorders, go to: www.westchestermedicalcenter.com/sleepcenter