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Tryptophan: A Sleepy Amino Acid

All around Chicago on Thanksgiving, Chiropractic Care and our patients give thanks for all we have and celebrate family togetherness with food and lots of it! The pumpkin pie, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, and turkey go down so well. Yum!

Then, the post-dinner naps begin, don’t they? Well, some Chicago residents may choose to take a walk or clean out the garage, but most sleep. (Grandpa Joe and Uncle Ken always say they’re going to the basement for the football games, but their post-Thanksgiving dinner naps are epic, aren’t they?!) Why?

Tryptophan is often blamed, but it’s not the only issue. We know that. Digestion and carbohydrates and some non-work time play into the equation, too. But let’s talk about tryptophan a bit. Tryptophan is in turkey and mashed potatoes. A 4-ounce serving of turkey (That’s pretty small!) provides 118.5% of the daily value of tryptophan. (1) And how many servings do you have? Then, a cup of  mashed potatoes contributes another 12.5% of the daily value of tryptophan. (2) So what does tryptophan do?

Well, you know friends who can't get by without their coffee’s caffeine to get going in the morning? Well, other things promote sleepiness. Tryptophan is one such ingredient. Converted to serotonin in the stomach during digestion, tryptophan is an essential amino acid, meaning that it must come from your diet because the body doesn’t make it. Infants need tryptophan to grow. Adults need it to balance nitrogen and help make serotonin. (3) Now what’s so important about that? Read on…

Serotonin is a brain chemical credited with promoting healthy sleep and mood stabilization. (And all Chicago residents including us at Chiropractic Care need that this crazy, hectic time of year!) Low serotonin levels are even linked with depression and nervousness. So tryptophan is good in moderation. Enjoy your turkey and potatoes at your Chicago family holiday meal!

Just keep in mind that your body works hard to digest all that yummy, carbohydrate-filled food (stuffing, pies, rolls), too. Your blood sugar spikes then drops contributing to even more sleepiness. So what should you do? Take a walk, hit the gym, or take a nap. Read some articles on tryptophan. Whatever works for you! But don’t forget to contact Chiropractic Care for a chiropractic tune-up this holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving!
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