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What's Up With That: The Real Causes of the Thanksgiving Sleepies


Instead, I wake up three hours after Thanksgiving dinner, sprawled out like Robinson Crusoe on the living room floor under a pile of my nephews' toys. My shirt is covered in light brown stains and greasy hand prints smear my jeans.

What is it about Thanksgiving that sends me—and millions of other Americans—into digestive oblivion? Are we all blissed out on turkey, or is there another reason Thanksgiving is the holiday for slothiness?

You've probably heard that turkey meat is dripping with a sleep-inducing chemical called tryptophan. And while it's true the stuff plays a part in sending your brain into slumber, saying it does so single-handedly is like saying Neil Armstrong jumped to the moon all by himself.

For one thing, turkey isn't particularly laden with tryptophan. Ounce for ounce, a roast chicken, grilled steak, or rack of pork spareribs all have comparable amounts. Freeze-dried tofu has about double the amount of tryptophan as turkey, and I doubt you'll hear your cousin from southern California complain about how sleepy he is after gorging on faux-meat.

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