What makes you Sleepy after Thanksgiving Dinner: Tryptophan or CO2?

For years, scientists have told us that the reason we feel tired after eating a traditional Thanksgiving meal is that turkey contains tryptophan, a natural sedative. But the staff at CO2Meter has known for years that high carbon dioxide levels in the office also results in drowsiness. Could high CO2 levels around the table be the reason everyone feels drowsy after the Thanksgiving meal?

In the interest of science (and the holidays) we decided to do a test: we would eat a full Thanksgiving dinner while logging the CO2 levels in the dining room. Eight of our staff sat down to a traditional dinner featuring turkey, dressing, cranberries and all the trimmings. A large CO2 meter was placed on the wall for the video, and a second meter was used to log CO2 levels for the graph shown on the right.

Here are the results:

A - Beginning of meal. The CO2 level in the office has already risen from 400 ppm when the office opens to 1,000 ppm by lunchtime. This is normal every day.

B – Dinner is served. From the time the staff was seated until the meal was over, CO2 levels rose approximately 20 ppm per minute! By the end of the meal, the CO2 level peaked at 1,400 ppm.

C – Cleanup. People began to leave the room. Opening and closing the doors lowered the CO2 levels to about 1,200 ppm.

D – Dessert. Everyone came back into the room, and the CO2 levels returned to their peak of 1,400 ppm. The general consensus was that everyone was sleepier than when the meal began.

E – Experiment Ends. During discussion, we realized that we didn’t have a control group of people who did not eat the turkey, so our results were inconclusive. Everyone finally left the room for some fresh air so they could wake up before getting back to work.


Watch the video below:

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