Over Thanksgiving break I learned that the Thanksgiving tryptophan-induced zombie mode is a myth; you’d have to consume at least an entire turkey (or three) in order to really be put to sleep.
If you believe Wikipedia, here is the entry:
Turkey meat and drowsiness
One widely-held belief is that heavy consumption of turkey meat (as for example in a Thanksgiving feast) results in drowsiness, which has been attributed to high levels of tryptophan contained in turkey. While turkey does contain high levels of tryptophan, the amount is comparable to that contained in most other meats. Furthermore, postprandial Thanksgiving sedation may have more to do with what is consumed along with the turkey, in particular carbohydrates, rather than the turkey itself.
It has been demonstrated in both animal models and in humans that ingestion of a meal rich in carbohydrates triggers release of insulin. Insulin in turn stimulates the uptake of large neutral branched-chain amino acids (LNAA) but not tryptophan (trp) into muscle, increasing the ratio of trp to LNAA in the blood stream. The resulting increased ratio of tryptophan to large neutral amino acids in the blood reduces competition with other amino acids for the large neutral amino acid transporter protein for uptake of tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier into the central nervous system (CNS). Once inside the CNS, tryptophan is converted into serotonin in the raphe nuclei by the normal enzymatic pathway. The resultant serotonin is further metabolised into melatonin by the pineal gland. Hence, these data suggest that “feast-induced drowsiness,” and in particular, the common American post-Thanksgiving dinner drowsiness, may be the result of a heavy meal rich in carbohydrates which, via an indirect mechanism, increases the production of sleep-promoting serotonin and melatonin in the brain.
See it for yourself here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tryptophan
Anyway, it’s been a good two weeks or so for me. The nice thing about Thanksgiving break was that there were no classes on Wednesday, so I got a five-day weekend to relax. I can’t believe there are only three weeks left until finals. And then we get FIVE weeks off for break. Vacation, anyone?
Some good news for me is, I’ve accepted a graduate internship offer at Target headquarters this summer in Minneapolis. I’m excited about the opportunity, since the company is big (and growing even faster). And this means I get to spend the summer outdoors, and go to the Boundary Waters! (Check it out here: http://www.bwcaw.org/)