Sounding strangely like the substance which drains Superman's powers, tryptophan has long been the scapegoat for a long post-dinner nap on Thanksgiving. But are there other things at play?
According to the New York Times, the amino acid tryptophan "is a precursor for the brain chemical serotonin, which is associated with healthy sleep". Unfortunately, for your uncle dead asleep in front of the Bears/Packers game, turkey doesn't contain any greater amount of tryptophan than other meats like beef or chicken. And while tryptophan on its own could make you sleepy, turkey contains many other amino acids which limit the effect.
So what's going on? Why are your family members spread upon the soft furniture like the sandman got carried away?
Consider the feast of the day. On a day when loading up your plate three or four times before the dessert course even makes it to the table is not only acceptable, but encouraged, it makes sense that everyone feels a bit sluggish. Add to that a glass of wine or a seasonal brew. Oh, not for you? You're pregnant, you say? Well, have I got a story for you!
1st Trimester: If you're just starting this great adventure, your body is busy creating the entire life support system for your baby. This includes growing the placenta. As your metabolism increases, your blood sugar and pressure lower. Then add to that whatever excess you can manage around the meal+hormones+emotions = Hello naptime!
2nd Trimester: This trimester you may feel a renewed sense of energy. You might have adjusted to your new hormones, and be in a sweet spot with the size and shape of your new belly. You might feel like you can fit just one more piece of pie and shuffle around for that family football game, but don't be surprised if they find you in a bed of leaves by the third quarter.
3rd Trimester: As baby grows, there are more demands on your body. Your sleep at night may be disrupted by practice labor or frequent bathroom trips. In general, you are just feeling a bit slower and sleepier. So the indulgences of the day are a perfect excuse for a well-deserved nap!
Wherever you are in your pregnancy (or parenting!), you deserve a rest! So take advantage of the extra hands, leave the dishes to your dad, and put your feet up. Just let them know, "My doula said I should probably take a nap today"
Your body will thank you.