I don’t know how your family goes about Thanksgiving, but mine goes above and beyond. The day consists of hours upon hours spent cooking dozens of dishes, setting long decorative tables, and giving many thanks. There is no doubt that at the end of the night, we are all ready for a long night’s sleep. I personally always thought we were just so tired from all of the effort we put into the holiday with all the traveling and preparation, but my Granddad insists otherwise. For years he has been telling me that the thanksgiving turkey is what makes us sleepy. I’m like, “….yeah. We just cooked it for 8 hours..duh”, but that is not what he means. He claims that it is an ingredient in the turkey that makes the brain groggy.
I decided to write this blog about this topic so I can do a little bit of research to confirm or deny this because for years I have just trusted his elder knowledge. This secret ingredient that my old pop speaks of is L-Tryptophan. You cannot find this amino acid naturally in the body, it can only be ingested with certain foods that have it, and yes, turkey does contain it. This holiday bird is no Nyquil!!! In fact, it’s much more complicated than it seems. According to Lisa Zamosky, L-Tryptophan sparks a chain reaction of chemical reactions in the body. The amino acid allows the body to create the chemical Serotonin in the brain which then is used to create the hormone Melatonin which initiates sleep and awakening. As Zamosky states, Turkey is just one of many poultries that contains L-Tryptophan, and it isn’t even the leading bird with the most of it. Chicken and fish are actually two foods with the highest amount of the amino acid.
So, due to this explanation, are us turkey eaters allowed to sit here and tell the “non-thanksgiving-turkey-eaters” that they’re not tired because they didn’t eat any turkey? Of course not. Like we talked about in class, just because something is evidence toward a conclusion, it doesn’t mean that there can’t be other causations toward the dependent variable. So yes, working hard cooking, alcohol, organizing, traveling, talking, preparing, or just overeating in general could all be plausible causations of a sleepy Thanksgiving celebrator!