This is a topic that comes up at every Thanksgiving table! So, why do we feel sleepy after that big meal?
The turkey is only partially to blame. The meat from the turkey contains tryptophan which is an amino acid (or protein) that the body uses to make serotonin.
Serotonin is an important chemical in the brain that helps to relax us and regulate sleep patterns. Almost every meat contain tryptophan at comparable levels, so its not just the turkey that makes us sleepy. A heavy meal, such as the Thanksgiving meal, includes many side dishes that include carbohydrates which gives us a very full feeling. When the stomach is very full, it will stimulate more serotonin in the brain which is why we feel sleepy. The feeling of relaxation and happiness you feel after the meal is a result of large amounts of serotonin release from the meat and quantity of food. Many pharmaceutical drugs to treat anxiety and insomnia mimic this same type of serotonin release.
So, enjoy your meal and your healthy dose of relaxation today!