Myth: Eating turkey makes you sleepy

November 23, 2005

There's reportedly good Thanksgiving news for turkey lovers: Contrary to popular belief, tryptophan in turkey doesn't cause drowsiness.

In fact, scientists told National Geographic News the substance could possibly aid in the treatment of depression and multiple sclerosis.

Purified tryptophan is a mild sleep-inducing agent and that probably led to the idea that foods containing heavy doses of the chemical cause drowsiness.

But tryptophan can't function well as part of a meal.

"Tryptophan is taken to the brain by an active transport system shared by a number of other amino acids and there's competition among them -- like a crowd of people trying to get through a revolving door," Simon Young, a neurochemist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, told National Geographic News.

He said consuming tryptophan-rich foods may cause blood levels of the amino acid to rise, but not enough tryptophan will reach one's brain to have a sedative affect.

And, scientists told NGN, turkey isn't even unusually high in tryptophan. Many other foods, such as beef or soybeans, have higher concentrations.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Serotonin plays role in many autism cases, studies confirm

Related Stories

Serotonin plays role in many autism cases, studies confirm

February 24, 2011

Mouse models are yielding important clues about the nature of autism spectrum disorders, which impact an estimated one in 110 children in the U.S. In labs at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio, researchers are studying ...

Shark smell myth found fishy

October 13, 2010

Everyone knows that sharks have an amazing sense of smell. Toss a chunk of salmon into the shark tank at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, and you can see it in action.

Don't Blame Tryptophan for Thanksgiving Snooze

November 20, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Blame it on the heavy meal, the alcohol, or simply the opportunity afforded by a free afternoon on a traditional holiday. Just don't blame it on the tryptophan, say experts at the University of Cincinnati.

Recommended for you

Quantum computing will bring immense processing possibilities

September 2, 2015

The one thing everyone knows about quantum mechanics is its legendary weirdness, in which the basic tenets of the world it describes seem alien to the world we live in. Superposition, where things can be in two states simultaneously, ...

Prawn Nebula: Cosmic recycling

September 2, 2015

Dominating this image is part of the nebula Gum 56, illuminated by the hot bright young stars that were born within it. For millions of years stars have been created out of the gas in this nebula, material which is later ...

Comet Hitchhiker would take tour of small bodies

September 2, 2015

Catching a ride from one solar system body to another isn't easy. You have to figure out how to land your spacecraft safely and then get it on its way to the next destination. The landing part is especially tricky for asteroids ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.