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family gathered around Thanksgiving table full of food

1) Dairy

You’re well aware that turkey contains tryptophan, but did you know that milk-based dairy products also contain tryptophan? On it’s own, it’s not enough to make you drowsy, but combined with some of these other sleep-inducing foods, it will definitely have you dreaming. Milk and other dairy products can also be difficult to digest, making your body work harder to process while using excess energy in the process.

2) Alcohol

Alcohol is often served at gatherings with family and friends, and many people consume it regularly to help them relax at the end of the day. If you’re one of these people, you are familiar with the sedative properties associated with a drink, like a glass of wine. A glass of wine on its own may make you slightly sleepy, but pairing it with the other foods on your Thanksgiving table will increase its sleep-inducing effects.

3) Turkey

Turkey takes a lot of heat around this holiday because people often blame it for making them sleepy. In fact, turkey is harmless on its own. The amino acids in this protein prevent the notorious tryptophan from doing any real damage. However, most people don’t celebrate Thanksgiving by just consuming turkey. So let’s get down to what’s really going to make turkey a coma-inducing component of your Thanksgiving feast.

4) Simple Carbs

There are many staple Thanksgiving dishes that are all carbs, like stuffing, mashed potatoes, or broccoli cheese rice. If you’re like most Americans, you have at least one of these dishes on your table right now. Eating carbohydrates can make sleep-inducing chemicals like, serotonin and tryptophan, more accessible to the brain. Normally, the amino acids found in proteins are able to block the brain from receiving tryptophan, which is why you don’t get drowsy. However, carbohydrates trigger the release of insulin in your body, which in turn removes most amino acids from the blood, allowing tryptophan, serotonin and melatonin to enter the bloodstream and end up in the brain, thus making you sleepy.

5) Fruit Pie

This is a delicious dessert enjoyed by millions of Americans on Thanksgiving day. Be it apple or cherry, this dessert is the big kahuna that will send you straight into nap time. With its carb-y crust and loads of sugar, a slice of pie will be a nice pick me up right after your meal, but will act as a sedative in the long run. The real culprit here is sugar. When you consume sugar, a chemical in your brain called orexinis triggered. Orexin keeps you feeling awake and alert. In combination with this, your body will release insulin to help counteract the high sugar levels your body is experiencing. Soon, you will feel a sudden drop in your blood sugar as the insulin goes to work, leading to a loss of energy and ultimately a crash. 

All in all, when these foods are consumed separately, you likely wouldn’t experience drowsiness. However, when consumed all together and in large portions, you’ll be ready for your Thanksgiving nap!