You don’t need science to tell you that Thanksgiving food makes you sleepy. Anyone who has ever celebrated the feastful holiday has experienced it. First you’re eating and you’re happy. You’re surrounded by friends and family, all while stuffing your face with the most indulgent holiday food you wait all year for. Then it really starts to hit you around pie time. And no matter how much coffee you drink or touch-football you play in the cold, you can’t seem to shake that need to curl up and nap.
This year, we’re going to make sure you have the best, food-coma-induced Thanksgiving nap of your life. By pairing science with good sense, we’ve rounded up the only tips you’ll need to have the most epic holiday sleep.
1. Science says stuff your face Almost everyone has heard of L-Tryptophan in turkey, which is a chemical that many attribute to the sleepiness felt after a Thanksgiving meal. But, scientists have actually found that all the fat, carbohydrates and general overeating associated with the holiday are the true culprits. What happens is that carbohydrates stimulate serotonin synthesis in the bloodstream, making you tired.
Then there are all the fats you’re eating, which are harder to break down, that slow down your digestive system. This means blood flow is primarily going to your stomach, and not so much everywhere else. The same thing happens when you overeat — all the blood and energy goes to your stomach so your body can help digest it, making the rest of your body tired and feeling the need to rest.
So to ensure you have the best Thanksgiving nap possible, take that extra helping of mashed potatoes, grab another slice of pie and don’t stop until you feel sleepy. 2. Hide emergency pie for later Before the vultures in your family eat everything while you nap, hide a piece of pie for yourself in the back of the fridge. Might as well make yourself a plate and hide it in the garage refrigerator, too, where you know it will be safe. Because while food got you into this predicament in the first place, it’s also the first thing you’re going to think about after you wake up and find a bit more room in your belly.
3. Ditch the couch, find the comfiest bed in the house You’re never going to sleep off that turkey properly while being slouched over on the couch. Not only will grandpa probably wake you up with his snoring in his chair, but the cousins are bound to turn up the cartoons and your uncles will surely wake you arguing about politics. While it’s the closest option to the dining table, the couch isn’t where you’re going to get the epic Thanksgiving nap you need. So head upstairs, test out all the available beds, and pass out in one. First come first serve. 4. Set an alarm It’s a rookie mistake to nap without abandon on Thanksgiving. With all that food sitting in your stomach and the exhaustion of the holiday as a whole, you might just sleep the night away and risk losing out on leftover pie. Give yourself 20 minutes, 45 minutes or 90 minutes to nap — these reflect regular REM cycles and will help you wake up feeling totally alert, rested and ready for more.