Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tryptophanic Dreams

Happy Thanksgiving !

         Many of us in the United States are going to be eating a lot of turkey for Thanksgiving.  In fact we're going to be probably eating a lot of turkey and other foods over the upcoming month or so as we engage in holiday festivities and visits with friends and relatives.

         And after a festive holiday feast what could be more inviting than a nice nap.  The phenomenon of sleepiness after eating a big turkey dinner is often attributed to a high level of the amino acid known a tryptophan.  Once ingested, tryptophan converts into a chemical known as serotonin which contributes to our sense of well-being and happiness.  This feeling allows for a greater inclination for a restful, peaceful sleep including the stimulation of dreams.

       In reality our being overcome by drowsiness is probably more caused by the carbohydrates that we have ingested in the form of potatoes, stuffing, desserts, and other foods that are sugary or convert to sugars once digested.  The tryptophan certainly aids in causing us to become sleepy, but is not the real culprit.

        We should eat a properly balanced diet on a daily basis and get adequate exercise.  However on Thanksgiving there's nothing much better to me than piling my plate with plenty of turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, a decent dose of vegetables, and a lot of stuffing.

        Personally, I love oyster dressing and always make a small casserole dish of it for me and whoever else wants it.  For the majority of our crowd though, I make a tasty fruit and sausage dressing that everyone raves about.  It's a carb laden dish that's sure to put anyone into a relaxed stupor after eating a few helpings.

        As I grow older, I tend not to eat as much as I used to, even on Thanksgiving.  Also, there may be something to my mother's claim that after cooking all morning one doesn't feel quite as hungry once dinner is served.   A little test nibbling now and then during the preparation also has something to do with it I'm sure.

         Having wakened early to start the meal and then filling up on carbs and the tryptophan in the turkey, I'm always receptive to a nap on Thanksgiving.   After all, I think I deserve it.  While my wife's family visits, watches television, plays games, and eats more, I usually head upstairs for a brief nap.  And I know I'm not the only one.  I've caught a few of the others dozing now and then on the couch or in one of the other bedrooms.  It's all good.  It's a holiday.

        So next time you're having a feast, remember it's the carbs that cast the spell of drowsiness over you.  Eat hearty and enjoy the good food and family time.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving and sweet tryptophanic dreams.   The serotonin will make you feel better.

          Do you usually take a nap after your Thanksgiving dinner?  Have you ever taken tryptophan or serotonin supplements?  Where do you go for Thanksgiving?   


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  1. Okay, reading this just made me very hungry! Now, I am really looking forward to the two parties which I will be attending, today! And since I am up so early, I will probably be craving a nap ...

  2. Happy Thanksgiving...gobble gobble

  3. We eat healthy in our household, but that does include a lot of carbs. Just not much sugar.
    And can't fall asleep today - I'd miss the Lions losing on Thanksgiving!

  4. I love oyster dressing, tho I may be among a few who do. It was a treat for my folks in the midwest, and now for me.

    Never tried tryptophan--will check it out.

    such strange dreams lately, Lee. Stress related I am sure.

  5. Suze -- Done with dinner and very stuffed. And so craving a nap. I may indulge shortly.

    Delores -- I have gobble gobbled and now almost regret it. It sure was good though.

    Alex -- I don't eat as much sugar as I used to, but I still eat too much of it.

    Susan --I grew up with oyster dressing. Not many here who like it, but I have to have it for tradition's sake. If you've eaten turkey or most meats you have eaten the amino acid tryptophan. I wasn't aware that it was also available as a dietary supplement until I wrote this. My dreams have always been strange. I think that kind of the nature of most dreams since they are symbolism of something else.


  6. Actually, I read the other day that it is "carb overload" that is the culprit and not tryptophan - interesting article from the LA Times - Thanksgiving: Busting the tryptophan myth wide open.

    Either way, I enjoy a good nap after a big meal. Hope you had a nice holiday Lee! :)

  7. Paula -- Interesting, I get the L.A.Times but I've been too busy with Thanksgiving to read it in the past few days so I guess I missed that article. Yes, I had a great day--ate too much and took a nap, but it was a good day. Hope all is well with you.


  8. Greetings, Arlee Bird!

    For thanksgiving my daughter and I cooked and shared the meal together!! We had fun cooking together simply enjoying the day together!


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