Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Science: Why You Really Can't Blame the Bird

As you gear up for Thanksgiving, everyone normally pictures something along these lines: Indulge in a big meal centered on a turkey prepared to your liking, move things to the couch and watch football while you eat dessert and then start nodding off before the 7:30 game even kicks off. It's not breaking news that catching the holiday bug can be exhausting, but blaming your afternoon nap on the turkey is all wrong, say scientists.

NBC News reports that sure, turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid that produces the brain chemical serotonin, known to cause calm and sleepiness. But the amount of tryptophan in turkey is extremely small, and other amino acids commonly in the Thanksgiving meal actually block tryptophan's entry to the brain!

Scientists say that the infamous Thanksgiving nap has more to do with missing out on sleep, drinking alcohol and working hard to digest the carb-loaded meal than it does the turkey. So turkeys everywhere urge you: stop blaming your lazy afternoon and casual post-meal nap on the them.

For more bites of Thanksgiving science to chew on, including how science "built" a better turkey and how science created a better balloon, check out NBC News.