Do you get sleepy after a grand Thanksgiving dinner? Some say it’s due to all of the L-tryptophan, an amino acid, found in turkey. But in fact, turkey doesn’t contain a substantially higher amount of L-tryptophan than other foods such as cheddar cheese or chicken.
Most people have low energy after an indulgent feast because of all the accoutrements that come with the meal, especially the high-carbohydrate foods like stuffing, brown sugar-laced sweet potatoes and that delightful pumpkin pie for dessert. Alcohol is certainly another contributing factor when it comes to feeling tired after the festivities; alcohol converts readily to sugar so it adds to your carbohydrate burden, and it causes sleepiness because of its sedating effects.
So how do these foods make you sleepy? If you eat more carbohydrates than your body can readily and easily cope with, you will get a surge of a hormone called insulin; insulin, in turn, grabs onto the sugar in your blood stream and escorts it into cells to be burned for energy. It also brings down levels of your stress hormone, cortisol, which can cause you to experience a drowsy, droopy, low-energy feeling.
An insulin surge can also trigger lower levels of other amino acids that compete with L-tryptophan in your bloodstream. This allows L-tryptophan greater access to your brain and production of sleep-inducing melatonin.
L-tryptophan can be taken as a supplement to help support sleep and mood.* The amino acid converts into another compound called 5-HTP, or 5-hydroxytryptophan, a precursor to the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. For those with occasional nighttime restlessness, 5-HTP can be taken as a supplement to support well-being.* The recommended dose is 100 to 500 mg before bed.
This Thanksgiving, enjoy the delicious and divine foods at the table; but as old saying goes, “Enjoy everything, just enjoy it in moderation.”
*This statement have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.