Families across the country find themselves gathered around the table on Thanksgiving day indulging in casseroles, potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and of course, turkey. But between the delicious side dishes and decadent desserts, you’re likely to find a stray family member asleep on the couch. Was it overindulgence, or does turkey really make you sleepy?

We did some research and gathered the facts.

Why We’re So Tired On Thanksgiving

We’ve always been told that it’s the Thanksgiving turkey that induces our mid-afternoon nap, but is turkey the main culprit?

What is L-Tryptophan?

L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid the body needs but cannot make on its own. So the foods we eat must supply it. It’s indeed found in turkey, but it can also be found in other poultry, meat, cheese, fish, yogurt and eggs.

Tryptophan is used by the body to make Niacin, a B vitamin that is important for digestion, skin and nerves, and Serotonin (a brain chemical that plays a large role in mood and can help create a feeling of well-being and relaxation).

Serotonin is used to produce Melatonin, a hormone that helps control your sleep and wake cycles.

What Are the Different Cycles of Sleep Physiology?

Is turkey to blame for our afternoon naps?

As it turns out, turkey has no more tryptophan than other kinds of poultry. In actuality, turkey has less tryptophan than chicken, so then eating chicken should have the same effect.

So why do we feel sleepy after a Thanksgiving meal? It may have something to do with the three plates of food and how ever many slices of pie we just ate.

Thanksgiving is a time when many people overeat. Combined with a relaxing time off from work and a glass of wine (or two or three), it’s no surprise that we find Uncle Ted conked out and snoring on the couch.

6 Common Reasons Why You Snore and When It’s a Problem

How To Avoid The Thanksgiving Day Nap

So don’t blame the turkey this year. Instead, eat in moderation and keep the alcohol to a minimum so you can avoid the afternoon crash and finish watching the football game!

3 Ways Sleep Can Help You Lose Weight

We Can Help You Sleep Better

If you’re finding yourself struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep, take our Sleep Quiz. Our Sleep Specialist want to help you get the rest you deserve!