Are you dealing with 'turkey coma'? Why you may feel tired after eating on Thanksgiving

If you’re one of the Americans who consumes some of the nearly 46 million turkeys eaten in the U.S. each year on Thanksgiving, you’re probably familiar with “turkey coma.”

Whether you had just one plate or two, many may experience an overwhelming feeling of drowsiness after the Turkey Day feast that may not seem comparable to any other meal of the year. However, the tired feeling isn’t actually just some phenomenon. There’s a reason why people are left wanting to get into bed after the grand feast.

You may have always blamed the traditional main dish as the culprit behind the feeling of tiredness, but turkey isn’t the sole suspect behind that lethargic feeling, registered dietitian and nutritionist Nancy Farrell Allen says.

“Turkey doesn’t deserve the entire credit for those feelings of drowsiness on Thanksgiving Day,” Allen told USA TODAY.

Cranberries, stuffing and turkey: Why do some Thanksgiving foods divide the dinner table?

Drinking tonight?: Here’s how much alcohol is too much – and how to avoid holiday binging

What is tryptophan?

While Allen says turkey doesn’t deserve all the credit for causing drowsiness, there actually is something in the meat that causes a tired reaction.

Turkey contains an amino acid known as tryptophan, which helps the brain release chemicals like serotonin and melatonin. Dr. Donald Hensrud, nutritionist and editor of The Mayo Clinic Diet,told USA TODAY tryptophan is an “essential” amino acid because the human body doesn’t produce it.

“There’s certain amino acids that we need need to get through our diet, tryptophan is one of them,” he said.

Takeout on Thanksgiving?: Cracker Barrel, Denny’s and more offer meal specials to eat at home

Does tryptophan make people feel sleepy?

The reason why tryptophan makes people feel so sleepy is because of the serotonin and melatonin it produces.

Melatonin is a hormone that regulates someone’s sleep cycle, as people can buy over-the-counter dietary supplements of it to help them fall asleep. Serotonin, commonly known as the hormone associated with happiness, has a variety of functions such as stabilizing sleep, mood, appetite and pain, according to the United States Library of Medicine. The mixture of the two hormones is what Hensrud said is the reasoning for feeling drowsy after eating.

Never deep-fry a frozen turkey: Experts warn a dangerous eruption of flames

Awkward dinner conversations: Dos and don’ts for navigating political, COVID-themed conversations during the holidays

How much is in turkey? Could it really make you tired?

As with all other foods, it all depends on how much turkey one eats on Thanksgiving. Should one person eat 6 ounces of turkey, double the recommended amount suggested by the University of Illinois Extension service, there would be 488 milligrams of tryptophan, Allen said.

However, turkey isn’t the only food with tryptophan in it, and other common foods actually have higher levels of the amino acid than turkey.

Other Thanksgiving foods with tryptophan in it include ham, which if eating double the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended serving, amounts to 507 milligrams of the amino acid. Chicken, red meat and pork also have tryptophan.

Ever had or been told to have a glass of milk before bed? It’s because an 8-ounce-serving of milk has 105 milligrams of tryptophan, which Allen said she recommends to patients to help “elicit a peaceful rest at night.” Other dairy products like yogurt and eggs also contain the amino acid.

According to Nutrition Data, turkey ranks 54th of all foods in the amount of tryptophan, behind foods such as eggs, halibut, crab and lobster.

So why do people feel so tired after Thanksgiving dinner?

Allen and Hensrud say there are numerous factors as to why people feel drowsy after a Thanksgiving dinner. While tryptophan can cause sleepiness, Hensrud added that it doesn’t act alone.

Whether it is by casserole or it’s mashed, potatoes are loaded with carbohydrates, which stimulates insulin production. Hensrud explained that this lowers blood glucose, which promotes the uptake of amino acids, except for tryptophan. Since it’s not promoted, there’s more tryptophan available to influence someone’s tiredness.

Starting the day by not eating breakfast or lunch also doesn’t help, as the rapid jump in a large amount of food can be a lot. After all, the average American eats 3,000 calories during the meal.

“Tryptophan works best on an empty stomach,” Allen said. “And if you haven’t eaten all day, all this food hits an empty stomach in a short time span.”

So regardless of what’s on the dinner table, the amount of food people eat really does affect how they feel.

“If people ate a big meal on Thanksgiving, even if it didn’t have turkey, they still would feel the same kind of relaxation/drowsiness after eating,” Hensrud said.

News Related


Biden: US troops won't be moving into Ukraine

President Joe Biden says there has been “no change in the posture of the Russian forces” along the Ukraine border and the White House is still preparing for a potentially ... Read more »

Jury awards Cardi B $1.25 million in defamation lawsuit

The Associated PressFILE – Cardi B performs at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., on June 16, 2019. A federal jury in Atlanta has awarded $1.25 million ... Read more »

Free N95 masks available at Meijer, Hy-Vee and coming soon to Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, more

As the government sends free COVID tests to households across the nation, 400 million free masks are also on their way. Unlike the free testing kits which are ordered through ... Read more »

Biden administration officially withdraws vaccine rule

The Biden administration has officially withdrawn a rule that would have required workers at big companies to get vaccinated or face regular COVID testing requirements. The Occupational Safety and Health ... Read more »

How to clean smoke damage, soot and ash from your home

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. In just the past few years, we’ve witnessed record-breaking wildfires cause ... Read more »

12 places you can buy sports apparel online for Super Bowl Sunday

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. With Super Bowl Sunday swiftly approaching, there’s no better time to ... Read more »

From Amex to Walmart, here are the companies mandating the Covid vaccine for employees

Changes at the state and federal level have complicated vaccination policies. These companies have made their plans clear.  Read more »

Young long-tailed macaque monkeys frolicking in Cambodia

A video clip of long-tailed macaque monkeys, also known as cynomolgus or crab-eating macaques, in Cambodia where scientific research was being done. Read more »

AP Top Stories January 25 P

Here’s the latest for Tuesday, January 25: White House says NATO partners in agreement on Ukraine as military aid arrives in Kiev; General Motors announces new $7 billion electric car ... Read more »

MLB drops arbitration cuts after union holds on free agents

Major League Baseball withdrew its plan for more limited salary arbitration on Tuesday, a day after the union withdrew its demand for greater free agent eligibility. In the second straight ... Read more »

IMF urges El Salvador to drop Bitcoin as legal tender

The Associated PressFILE – “We accept Bitcoin” is announced at a barber shop in Santa Tecla, El Salvador, Sept. 4, 2021. The IMF urged the government of El Salvador on ... Read more »

We tested N95 and KN95 masks on Amazon. These 7 options are your best bets

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, face masks are still ... Read more »

Shop the best TV deals under $500 from Samsung, TCL, Hisense and Vizio

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. TVs are a major investment, both as a home essential and ... Read more »

Official: Haiti sees rise in COVID-19 cases; few vaccinated

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti is fighting a rise in COVID-19 cases as the government struggles to convince people to get vaccinated, the country’s health minister told The Associated Press on ... Read more »

Elton John postpones Texas concerts after getting Covid

The pop superstar, who is vaccinated and boosted, “is experiencing only mild symptoms,” according to a statement. Read more »

Millions of kids were thrust back into poverty after the child tax credit expired. What's next?

Families say the program extended a lifeline to them when job security and child care were scarce. Read more »

Why Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes yelled 'do it' at Travis Kelce before huge play vs. Bills

Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce have been teammates for a while now and have put up big numbers and won a Super Bowl together with the Chiefs. All ... Read more »

Chiefs-Bills, Packers-Niners thrilling playoff games score blockbuster TV ratings

The television ratings are in for this past weekend’s NFL playoff games — and they’re almost as spectacular as the games themselves. According to Fox Sports, Saturday’s prime-time thriller between ... Read more »

Timnit Gebru is part of a wave of Black women working to change AI

Gebru said she was pushed out of her job at Google after pointing out how AI has been harmful to people of color. Now she's launching her own research institute. Read more »

'Old Man' Love relishing reserve role with rising Cavaliers

CLEVELAND (AP) — Kevin Love bolted from his seat, a spot on the bench that has revived his career and helped fuel the Cavaliers’ stunning rise, and streaked past coach ... Read more »

COVID in the Caribbean: CDC says to 'avoid travel' to these 5 islands

Federal health officials are warning U.S. travelers to avoid nearly every Caribbean island after moving Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin and Guadeloupe to its level 4 travel ... Read more »

Iran president says nuke deal possible if sanctions lifted

On Location: January 25, 2022 Catch up on the developing stories making TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said Tuesday an agreement with the United States over its ... Read more »

COVID-19 booster drive is faltering in the US

Pfizer starts trials for omicron-specific booster The pharmaceutical company announced the beginning of its trials, with more than 1,400 patients set to receive one or more doses of the variant-based ... Read more »

National Guard sees troops reupping despite COVID, hard year

The Associated PressFILE – Iowa National Guard Maj. Gen. Benjamin Corell gives the Condition of the National Guard address in the House Chambers at the Iowa Capitol Building on Jan. ... Read more »

Howie Mandel urges pal Jay Leno to air 'Late Night' laundry

The Associated PressHowie Mandel attends “America’s Got Talent” season 15 red carpet in Pasadena, Calif., on March 4, 2020, left, and Jay Leno appears at the “The Carol Burnett 50th ... Read more »

Cuban prosecutors say 790 people charged for July protests

The Associated PressServilia Pedroso, right, mother of 18-year-old student Eloy Barbaro Cardoso, and Yaquelin Cruz mother of Dariel Cruz, show the photos of their who were arrested during the July ... Read more »

'A great relief': Baltimore firefighter in fair condition after blaze kills 3 colleagues

A Baltimore firefighter who survived the collapse of a burning vacant home that killed three colleagues was upgraded to fair condition Tuesday. Fire Chief Niles Ford said the four firefighters ... Read more »

What is a 'nor'easter'? These storms can batter the East Coast and impact millions of people

Past nor’easters have been responsible for billions of dollars in damage. Nor’easters often bring heavy rain, heavy snow and severe coastal flooding to the East. The storms are called “nor’easters” ... Read more »

McConnell: Action needed before Ukraine invasion

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says the United States needs to take action regarding Ukraine before Russia invades. (Jan. 25) Read more »

Eric Staal, Owen Power among those named to Canada's Olympic roster

Longtime NHL forward Eric Staal and 2021 top draft pick Owen Power were among the players named Tuesday to Canada’s roster for the Beijing Olympics. Staal played almost 1,300 games ... Read more »

Rihanna's philanthropy grows: Singer's foundation donates $15 million climate justice

Rihanna is backing her belief that climate change is a social-justice issue by pledging $15 million to the movement through her Clara Lionel Foundation. The “We Found Love” singer on ... Read more »

Prosecutor: Killings of Canadians in Mexico due to gang debt

MEXICO CITY — A prosecutor in Mexico said Tuesday the killing of two Canadians at a Caribbean coast resort last week was motivated by debts between international gangs apparently dedicated ... Read more »

COVID-19: Sir Elton John forced to delay shows after testing positive for coronavirus

The musician had returned to the stage after almost two years to continue his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour in the United States. His final tour had originally been postponed due to the pandemic. Read more »

'Violeta': Isabel Allende chronicles extraordinary 100-year life lived between two pandemics

Imagine at the age of 100 chronicling your life amidst the turmoil and tumult of the last century, having witnessed not just your personal highs and lows but also those ... Read more »

GM to pay billions for Michigan EV, battery plants

General Motors is making the largest investment in company history in its home state of Michigan (Jan. 25) Read more »

Cargo surge pushes Port of Savannah to 5.6M container record

The Associated PressThe container ship CMA CGM Laperouse, left, docks at the Georgia Ports Authority’s Port of Savannah, Sept. 29, 2021, in Savannah, Ga. The Port of Savannah saw a ... Read more »

WH defends FDA halting use of antibody drugs

The White House is defending the Federal Drug Administration’s decision to stop the use of antibody drugs that don’t work against omicron. (Jan. 25) Read more »

Native tribal group reclaims California redwood forest

The descendants of Native American tribes on the Northern California coast are reclaiming a bit of their heritage that includes ancient redwoods that have stood since their ancestors walked the ... Read more »

Amazon just announced the most popular Valentine's Day gifts—here's what to buy

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. Whether you’re shopping for your significant other, your friends or your ... Read more »

Florida: Search under way for 39 people missing after boat capsizes in 'human smuggling' incident as one survivor found

A search is under way off the Florida coast after a boat reportedly capsized with 40 people on board in a suspected “human smuggling” incident, according to US officials. One ... Read more »
On you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic