Thanksgiving is just around the corner and if you’re like most Americans, you are ready for the ultimate feast complete with mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, corn, and of course, turkey. There is a lot of excitement that surrounds the day, including parades, cooking, football, and long travel commutes. So, what about Thanksgiving makes people so sleepy?
The truth about turkey
Most people assume the turkey is to blame for being so tired after a nice Thanksgiving meal. Turkey is packed with a nutrient called tryptophan. Tryptophan is natural amino acid that is found in many protein-rich foods. This chemical is also a key ingredient of melatonin, a sleep hormone. Studies show that tryptophan does, in fact, increase natural drowsiness, however, you would have to eat an excessively large amount to get that sleep-inducing effect. Additionally, contrary to popular belief, eating plates full of turkey does not boost melatonin production.
What makes you so tired?
Now that we’ve debunked the myth about turkey being the culprit, what really is the reason behind our Thanksgiving drowsiness? One of the main causes of our exhaustion during the holiday is simply due to eating too much. Overeating puts the body’s digestive system in override and the energy required to digest large meals can leave you feeling tired.
There is also an increase in consuming high carbohydrate foods and fats during Thanksgiving, which adds to the sleepiness formula. Large portions of these foods can raise insulin levels and alter the amounts of leptin (a hormone regulating fat) and ghrelin (which controls hunger and energy) in the body, which can affect our sleepiness.
Aside from the heavy eating, we also need to consider the time of the year, as the holidays can affect our sleep patterns. Generally, families spend countless hours cooking, many times waking up very early in the morning to start preparation. Thanksgiving is also one of the highest traveled dates of the year and a long commute can cause you to be extra tired. Bottom line is that you are bound to be a little sleep deprived and in need of a serious snooze once all is done.
Things you can do to enjoy the holiday
So, what can we do to avoid falling into a deep Thanksgiving food coma? For one, be mindful of your portions. While delicious, skip that second or third plate so you can enjoy the rest of the night. If possible, consider eating earlier in the day to allow your digestive system to work off all that yummy food. Going to bed on a full stomach is often uncomfortable and can interrupt normal sleep patterns. Lastly, skip the early outings for Black Friday and focus on resting and recuperating.
There is a lot of hustle and bustle when it comes to the holiday season. Don’t forget what the day is truly about…spending time with loved ones and being thankful for what you have. From everyone at Warm Things, Happy Thanksgiving!
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