Food Remedy Series – Talking Turkey: A Natural Sleep Aid

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a wild turkey walking through the woods.

Turkey meat will make you sleepy.

Traditionally in America, we gather together with family and friends for traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinners.

Like most of us do, you eat more than you typically eat on non-holidays, so after the meal, you want to take a nap.

Many of you may think that you get sleepy because you ate too much because eating draws blood into your gastrointestinal tract and away from your brain. When you draw the blood away from your brain, you get sleepy.

Well, it might be because turkey is a natural sleep aid. 

Tryptophan, 5-HTP, and Melatonin

A young Caucasian man is asleep at the wheel of a car, with some drool beginning to run out of his mouth.

Turkey can knock you out after you eat a big holiday dinner. Maybe you should take a nap before you drive home.

Turkey is very high in the amino acid tryptophan. 

Tryptophan stimulates sleep in the brain.

Tryptophan metabolizes 5-HTP, another amino acid. 5-HTP is then converted into both serotonin and melatonin. 5-HTP has been shown in scientific studies to promote relaxation and alleviate stress and anxiety. The relaxation and anti-anxiety properties of 5-HTP come from its ability to elevate levels of serotonin.

Tryptophan also converts into serotonin, and the serotonin then breaks down into melatonin. Serotonin and melatonin are both hormones and neurotransmitters that send messages between your nerve cells to regulate sleep, appetite and mood.

Melatonin plays a dominant role in regulating circadian rhythms, which controls sleep patterns. 

So, your holiday turkey dinner is a very tasty sleep inducer. You are getting a dose of tryptophan, 5-HTP, serotonin and melatonin.

This is a chain reaction that makes you go Nite Nite.

Other Sleep Vitamins

Here are some other food nutrients that stimulate sleep, so if you don’t want to get completely knocked out after your turkey dinner, lay low eating foods with:

  1. iron
  2. copper
  3. magnesium
  4. B-vitamins

Talk about a double, or triple, whammy sending you straight to the couch before that pecan pie has a chance to knock you over the edge.

Pieces of dark chocolate.

Chocolate interferes with sleep.

Foods To Reverse The Snooze

If you want to enjoy your holiday meal without falling asleep at the table, try adding these foods to your holiday dinner. These foods actually interrupt a good sleep, exacerbating insomnia:

  • chocolate
  • coffee
  • cola
  • alcohol
  • large, fatty meals
  • rich sauces
  • lots of carbs
  • sugar

A List of Foods High In Sleepy Vitamins

Fresh and raw apricot seeds.

Nuts are full of the nutrients that make you sleepy.


  • oysters and shellfish
  • whole grains
  • nuts
  • potatoes
  • drak leafy greens
  • dried fruits/prunes
  • cocoa
  • black pepper
  • yeast


  • turkey
  • shellfish
  • spinach
  • liver
  • legumes
  • pumpkin seeds
  • quinoa


  • seeds
  • cheese
  • yogurt
  • sardines and canned salmon
  • beans and lentils
  • almonds
  • whey protein
  • leafy greens

Now you know that there is definitely a link between your stomach and sleep. 

Have a Happy Turkey Day from The Hullistic Network.


Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and is educational in nature. The FDA may not have evaluated some of the statements.  This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please discuss with your own, qualified health care provider before adding supplements or making any changes to your dietary program.

Before taking vitamins, consult your doctor; pre-existing medical conditions or medications you are taking can affect how your body responds to multivitamins.

About Janet Hull PhD, CN

Janet Starr Hull, PhD, CN has been working with clients in the holistic health field since 1995. Using natural medicine to cure herself from a diagnosis of Graves’ disease caused by aspartame, Dr. Hull began researching the toxic causes of disease. Today, she is one of the world’s leading experts in environmental toxicology and holistic health and nutrition. Dr. Hull is the first researcher to publicly expose the dangers of aspartame. Connect with Dr. Hull on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.

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