The Real Reason You Want To Lie Down After Thanksgiving Dinner

You sit down to Thanksgiving dinner very excited at the feast that lies in front of you. There's the juicy roast turkey hot out of the oven, filled with savory stuffing. There's mountains of mashed potatoes smothered in gravy, Brussels sprouts sprinkled with bacon bits, tangy cranberry sauce, creamy green bean casserole, and fluffy rolls dripping with melted butter. That's not all — there's also the dessert course to follow, whether you prefer pumpkin pie, pecan pie, or apple pie. And if you're like many people, you go back for seconds of all of the above. 

By the time you're finished eating, your stomach is swollen, you're filled to the brim, and — surprise, surprise — you feel like you're ready for a nap. Most of us have heard that the reason we get so tired post-Thanksgiving is because of the tryptophan in turkey (via WebMD). But does that hunk or two of white meat really make you sleepy? It turns out there may be another reason why all you want to do is lie down after your holiday feast and it's backed by science.

The bigger the meal, the harder it is to digest

While there is something to be said for the drowsy effect of tryptophan, medical experts at Johns Hopkins explain that turkey likely doesn't make you tired because it contains other amino acids that combat the sleep-inducing tryptophan. Instead, the reason you feel ready for a nap isn't about what you eat so much as it is how much you eat. A larger meal is more difficult for your body to digest and requires a lot more energy (via Prevention).

"When you consume a meal, especially a large meal, your parasympathetic nervous system function increases," Kristi King, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, explained to Eat This, Not That!. "This then decreases your sympathetic nervous system response, which equals a tired you." A better option? Pace yourself or spread out your meal over a few hours to give your body time to digest. Or, enjoy the feast and just know you'll need a nap soon after!