Contemporary Legend

“Eating turkey makes you sleepy”


Kenneth heard this from friends and family and heard it for the first time when he was about 7 years old.

Collector’s comments

This legend is quite intriguing since I seem to hear it nearly every Thanksgiving or whenever a turkey dinner is about to be eaten. I assumed the legend to be true since I was always sleepy after a large Thanksgiving meal. But then again, I often fall asleep at Leavey Library after just eating a big meal at EVK.

Although Americans hardly debate over the veracity of this legend (practically everyone seems to accept it as fact), I chose to research the legend and found out that turkey itself will most likely not cause sleepiness. My source asserts that this legend is only a half-truth. It is true that tryptophan is a natural sedative. However, it only acts in the brain if the person consuming turkey is eating on an empty stomach (which does not have any protein). Thus, the old legend that so many readily accept as fact is disproved by modern science.

Annotation: The legend and facts to disprove it can be found at

Date of access: April 20, 2007