Why Turkey Makes You Tired

It’s Thanksgiving week here in the U.S.  For me, this is a time to raise the bar with my gratitude practice. I typically host dinner at my home, too. Despite the crazy energy of preparing and being attentive to details, I really love it.

However, with this time of year, the stress of pleasing others can hit home, and this can be a factor that disrupts the deep sleep you need to keep going. (If you want a few stress-busting tips, check out my previous blog “Navigating WTF around the Holidays”).

So, let’s talk turkey, and my “recipe” for a great night’s sleep.

Turkey is rich in Tryptophan.

Turkey is one of many foods filled with the essential amino acid Tryptophan. The only way we get this amino acid is from food (we can’t make it on our own).

According to a 2019 review article published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, low levels of tryptophan are associated with depression and poor sleep. Disrupted tryptophan levels and pathways have also been linked to a variety of metabolic disorders and illness, including cognitive disorders, anxiety, neurodegenerative diseases, autism spectrum disorder, obesity, anorexia and bulimia nervosa.  This amino acid also plays a significant role in the healthy functioning of what is called the brain-gut axis, as well as healthy immunity. 

Not a “Phan” of Turkey?

Here is a list of foods that are rich in Tryptophan.

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Salmon
  • Eggs
  • Seeds: Squash, Pumpkin, Chia, Flax
  • Nuts: Cashews, Pistachios

Recipe for Sleep

  1. Eat foods rich in tryptophan. Why not start with a keto-friendly breakfast of bacon and eggs, both sources of this essential amino acid.
  2. Spend time in the sun. Sunlight activates tryptophan to create serotonin. Serotonin is our “happiness” neurotransmitter, which also helps us with impulse control. When your body uses the serotonin it makes from the tryptophan, an important byproduct (called a metabolite) is Melatonin. Melatonin is a critical hormone for health. It helps us fall asleep when the sun sets, and is also an incredibly powerful antioxidant.
  3. Avoid bright artificial lights after the sun sets. This includes overhead LED lights, TVs, and other device screens. Why? The blue and green frequencies after sunset suppress and deplete the release of melatonin, spike your stress hormone cortisol, and raise your blood sugar. You can manage this with (click to be redirected to my favorite brands) candle light, Himalayan salt lamps, red incandescent bulbs, and blue-light blocking lenses. (For VivaRays lenses, use code SLEEPCEO for 15% off – just in time for holiday sales!)

So, enjoy your turkey WITH some sunshine, be mindful about bright light at night, and you’ll be happier and fall asleep.

By the way, although most people associate turkey dinners with sleep, in actuality, the sleepiness is often the result of overeating. Regardless, enjoy!⁠

⁠While many of us are fortunate enough to gather with family and friends to enjoy the abundance of a Thanksgiving table, there are others in need. Click HERE for a list of food shelters that can support your local community.

Now is the time to start sleeping better. Schedule time with me HERE.

With Gratitude,

Sleep, Sleep Coach, Health Coach, Turkey, Tryptophan