Other than “turkey” and “Thanksgiving,” the noun that starts with –T you’ll most commonly hear this holiday season is “tryptophan”–the chemical found turkey we all know that makes you sleepy.
Except that’s wrong.
Not the part about everyone loving to talk about tryptophan (that’s a very real fact that can actually play an important role in a great family drinking game), the part about the turkey’s tryptophan making you tired and sleepy.
So rather than spread false information and old wives tales, let’s actually learn something you can teach your family to prove that you’re not just boozing and partying your life away.
#1) It’s Not The Turkey Making You Sleepy
Despite what your younger cousins or single uncle have to say on the matter, it’s not actually the tryptophan that’s making you so sleepy. Yes, turkey has tryptophan in it (as does nearly everything with proteins) but the truth is that it’s actually the obscene number of carbohydrates (bread, mashed potatoes, stuffing, etc.) and booze that you’re drinking that makes you drowsy.
It’s not like Thanksgiving is the one time that drinking a bottle and a half of wine is going to leave your body unaffected.
That being said, playing a drinking game that requires you to take a sip every time someone says “Tryptophan” is still a good idea.
#2) Tryptophan Works Best On An Empty Stomach
Even further proof that tryptophan isn’t what’s putting you to sleep at the same time as your grandmother is that the chemical actually works best on an empty stomach. And we all know that since you’ve had to unbuckle your, belt you’re not running on empty.
#3) Turkey vs. Chicken
As we said, tryptophan is in pretty much everything that has protein in it. In fact, 4 ounces of chicken have more tryptophan than 4 ounces of turkey–.39 grams vs. .35 grams
Milk has protein, right? So we’ll give you one guess as to why a glass of milk is supposed to help you go to sleep.
Research shows that milk actually has .1 grams of protein
#5) B3 (Niacin)
So what the f*ck do you need tryptophan for? Good question. The amino acid tryptophan is crucial in creating vitamin B3 (aka Niacin). Like all B vitamins, B3 is an important tool in breaking down food into fuel–either storing it as fat or protein for muscles.
Niacin in particular, also helps your body create various sex and stress-related hormones in the adrenal glands and other parts of the body. Niacin helps improve circulation, and it has been shown to suppress inflammation.