Does Tryptophan Make You Sleepy?
The discussion of tryptophan and drowsiness comes up most often around Thanksgiving, when many people eat copious amounts of food - not just turkey! Eating a meal high in carbohydrates triggers the pancreas to release insulin, which stimulates the uptake of all amino acids but tryptophan. When this happens, there’s a higher concentration of tryptophan in the bloodstream. Now, tryptophan can be converted into serotonin and further metabolized into melatonin - the neurotransmitter that controls drowsiness. So in a way, eating lots of turkey could cause you to feel sleepy, but only if you eat even more carbohydrates with it.
Turkey isn’t the only food that contains this amino acid! In fact, pork chops, sunflower seeds, and parmesan cheese all have a greater concentration of tryptophan than turkey. And chicken has just as much, so you don’t need turkey to benefit from the tryptophan in poultry.
For this activity, you’ll need something you can use to take notes (such as a journal), about six ounces of turkey, and a 500 mg tryptophan tablet. On the first day, eat a meal that contains turkey and monitor your level of drowsiness in the journal. According to the article “How Much Tryptophan is in Poultry?” there’s about 270 milligrams of tryptophan in a three-ounce serving of light meat turkey, so six ounces would be pretty close to 500 milligrams.
The next day, take the tryptophan tablet and record how you feel again. Compare the notes and see if you can notice a difference!
Busch, Sandi. "How Much Tryptophan is in Poultry?" SFGATE.com. Accessed on 11/24/17.
“Structure of L-Tryptophan”. Released into the public domain. Uploaded on 11/24/17 from commons.wikimedia.org
Kratochvil, Petr. “Christmas Turkey”. Released into the public domain. Uploaded on 11/24/17 from publicdomainpictures.net
Mueller, Aline. “Sunflower”. Released into the public domain. Uploaded on 11/26/17 from publicdomainpictures.net
Frerichs, Lilla. “Carving the Turkey”. Released into the public domain. Uploaded on 11/26/17 from publicdomainpictures.net