Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. Friends and family have congregated and dispersed and many turkeys, cranberries and pies have been eaten. With a feast like Thanksgiving, one of the great traditions is the post-prandial stupor. The amino acid tryptophan, found in large quantity in turkey, has been implicated in popular lore as causing sleepiness, but as this blogpost¹ argues, it is but a small part of the process. Snopes agrees. While there is some basis for believing that Tryptophan is the culprit, the reality is that it is the entire meal itself. While it was nice to have a well-defined target, truth is, like most things in life, much more complicated and at the same time simpler. We don’t often overeat in such a relatively short time to the extent that we do at Thanksgiving. Turkey or not, if we and when we do, we tend to have a similar response. What makes Thanksgiving special in this regard and turkey such a tempting target is that it happens to so many people at the same time.
¹Thanks to my friend Trevor Williams for the reference