Today families across America will gather with relatives they dislike to eat food they love. What's on the menu? Turkey, of course! After feasting on the bird, most of us want a long nap. It's a common belief, then, that turkey makes you sleepy - but is that true?
The chemical in turkey that supposedly makes you sleepy is tryptophan, an amino acid. Remember that amino acids are the building block for protein, and therefore, life. But does the tryptophan in turkey make you sleepy?
The answer that most chemists would give you right now is NO! Of course not! They will point out that turkey has just about the same amount of tryptophan as chicken, salmon, lamb, and beef. There's nothing special, they'll tell you, about the tryptophan in turkey that makes you sleepy. The real explanation, they'll tell you, is that you eat lots of carbohydrates with your turkey. Those carbs take more to digest and your body shuts down to get busy digesting.
That's a fair point, most chemists, but the truth is the tryptophan in your turkey is responsible for your sleep coma. It's just responsible in an indirect, and much more interesting way.