How Tryptophan Improves Sleep Quality And Mood

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How Tryptophan Improves Sleep Quality And Mood
How Tryptophan Improves Sleep Quality And Mood

How tryptophan improves sleep quality and mood



A good night's sleep is the key to a fruitful day. A whole group of chemical compounds that help normalize sleep and provide a positive mood. One of these substances is tryptophan, an amino acid found in food, active food additives.

Tryptophan eliminates insomnia, prevents respiratory arrest during sleep. The natural solution to physiological problems with the help of the drug passes without negative symptoms. It participates in the synthesis of cellular protein, the formation of chemical compounds that ensure normal sleep, a vigorous psycho-emotional state.


  • Tryptophan - what is it?
  • Role in thinking, behavior and mood formation
  • Deficiency causes impairment of memory and learning ability
  • Effects of Serotonin
  • Effects on melatonin synthesis
  • What foods contain tryptophan?
  • How do I take tryptophan supplements?
  • Side effects
  • Instead of a conclusion

Tryptophan - what is it?


Tryptophan is a complex alpha amino acid found in protein foods. Amino acids are essential for protein synthesis in new cells. Their functions include the formation of molecules that take part in the transmission of nerve impulses.

The unique ability of tryptophan to transform into 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) - the element on the basis of which the body produces melatonin and serotonin. [1]

Serotonin is an active chemical that promotes the transmission of impulses from neurons in the brain to smooth muscles, glandular cells. He participates in the brain, contributes to the normal functioning of the intestines. Serotonin influences the mechanism of sleep, cognition and the establishment of emotional mood. Melatonin is a hormone that actively influences the sleep-wake cycle.

All functions of tryptophan and hormones, in the synthesis of which it takes part, are aimed at the full functioning of the human body.

Tryptophan is one of the essential amino acids that can be converted to serotonin and melatonin. Tryptophan compounds ensure the normal functioning of the body, affect sleep, mood and behavioral responses.

Role in thinking, behavior and mood formation


There are many known functions of tryptophan, however, the most famous is the effect on the brain. Low levels of the substance affect mood disorders. A significant portion of the observations indicate that tryptophan deficiency affects the development of depression.

One of the medical studies looked at fluctuations in the concentration of tryptophan in the blood. To this end, the subjects took a large amount of amino acids for a certain time, both with tryptophan and without it.

A stressful situation was created twice for 15 healthy adults. The first time - with a recorded normal level of tryptophan in the blood, the second - when its level was low. Thus, it was possible to establish that the feeling of tension, anxiety, nervousness increased with a reduced level of tryptophan. An aggravation of the feeling of anxiety was also observed with an insignificant content of the active substance. Excessive impulsiveness and hostility are observed in aggressive individuals. [2]

Additional intake of tryptophan improves the quality of social communication and behavior.

Studies have found that low levels of tryptophan in the body can lead to mood disorders, anxiety and depression.

Deficiency causes impairment of memory and learning ability

Fluctuations in the content of tryptophan in the body affect some cognitive processes. In the course of one of the studies, it was possible to understand the relationship between amino acid levels and the performance of memorizing information. The lower the tryptophan scores, the worse the long-term memory scores. At normal levels, these figures are much higher. [3]

This pattern is observed even in the case of an established fact of familial depression in study participants. A large-scale study made it possible to establish that tryptophan deficiency negatively affects the processes of memory and cognition. Memory disorders are especially noticeable, associated with past events or previous experience. There is an assumption that all these signs depend on the synthesis of serotonin. Hormone production is linked to tryptophan content. [4]

Tryptophan is a key element required for the synthesis of serotonin, which affects cognitive function. Its deficiency impairs thinking, memory of past events, emotions.

Effects of Serotonin


Tryptophan has the unique ability to transform itself into 5-HTP molecules, which subsequently form the hormone serotonin. Several large-scale studies have determined the effect of the amino acid 5-hydroxytryptophan on the formation of serotonin. The higher the level of tryptophan, the higher the content of the hormone of good mood and molecules of the 5-HTP metabolite. These transformations underlie the influence on the changes in mood and cognition, which are still being studied. [five]

The processes of higher nervous activity largely depend on the level of serotonin and 5-HTP. Increased anxiety and depressive disorders are the results of a lack of active compounds in the brain. Most drugs that have an antidepressant effect replace serotonin and increase brain activity. Learning ability is directly related to the amount of neurotransmitter hormone synthesized.

Prescribing drugs containing 5-HTP helps to increase serotonin levels, eliminate panic symptoms, and get rid of insomnia. [6]

Tryptophan is undoubtedly the main element for the synthesis of serotonin. The "happiness hormone" is important for the proper functioning of the brain. Tryptophan deficiency leads to a decrease in the serotonin content in the body.

Effects on melatonin synthesis


Serotonin formed from tryptophan can almost immediately be transformed into another compound of no small importance for the body - melatonin or sleep hormone. In its natural form, the active compound can enter the body along with some food products - tomatoes, grapes, strawberries, rice, oatmeal. Food supplements can be used as an additional source of melatonin.

Melatonin is called the sleep hormone because of its ability to influence the sleep-wake cycle. The nature of the course of this physiological cycle affects the metabolism of nutrients in the body, the functioning of the immune system.

Medical observations have shown that higher levels of tryptophan contribute to the production of more melanin, which in turn improves sleep quality.

In the course of one of the experiments, evidence was obtained that the introduction of tryptophan-fortified cereals in the breakfast and dinner menus of adult subjects significantly reduces the period of falling asleep and increases the duration of sleep. Conventional cereals do not give this result. All participants in the experiment, consuming tryptophan with food, noted a decrease in signs of anxiety and depression. [7]

Studies have shown that taking food supplements with melatonin significantly prolongs the sleep phase and improves all the criteria for its quality. [eight]

Melatonin affects the sleep-wake cycle. Supplementation with tryptophan significantly increases melatonin levels, which can help normalize sleep.

What foods contain tryptophan?

Protein-containing foods are a source of tryptophan. Eating protein foods guarantees the intake of an essential amino acid into the body. The amount of active substance obtained depends on the quality and quantity of protein products.

The largest amounts of tryptophan are found in shrimp, crabs, salmon, poultry and eggs. The average amount of amino acid consumed while following a normal diet is 1 gram per day. You can increase the intake of tryptophan by taking drugs that include 5-HTP and melatonin.

You can provide the body with the necessary amount of tryptophan by following a protein diet or using special nutritional supplements. Tryptophan levels are related to the amount and quality of protein that is included in the daily diet. Usually it is 1 gram per day.

How do I take tryptophan supplements?


If you are concerned about chronic low mood, anxiety, insomnia, look for foods rich in tryptophan or dietary supplements with melatonin, 5-HTP. The use of tryptophan drugs affects the physiological processes of the body. It promotes the synthesis of serotonin, melanin, as well as vitamins PP, B3 and essential proteins.

Increasing the supply of serotonin and melatonin can significantly improve the condition of some people. An increase in psycho-emotional mood, an improvement in thought processes occurs when taking supplements of tryptophan and 5-HTP. Both drugs significantly increase the synthesis of natural serotonin.

Sometimes the administration of 5-HTP can help reduce food intake and thus reduce body weight. The permissible dosage of 5-HTP is 100-900 mg per day. Melatonin supplementation will be required for those suffering from insomnia or poor sleep quality. It is permissible to take 0.5-5 mg per day. The most commonly recommended dose is 2 mg per day.

For tryptophan, the usual dosage is up to 5 mg per day.

Tryptophan and medications containing melatonin and 5-HTP in dietary form help improve the quality of daily life. The choice of the preferred drug should be based on the elimination of negative symptoms.

Side effects


Like any biologically active substance, amino acids can be safe if the recommended dosages are followed. The daily intake of tryptophan from food is approximately 1 gram. An increase in this amount to 5 grams per day is permissible.

The study of all properties of tryptophan has been studied for over 50 years. For all the time, there were practically no negative symptoms. The appearance of side effects can only be noticed when the recommended dosage is significantly exceeded - above 50 mg per kilogram of body weight (3.4 grams per day for an adult). Negative symptoms include nausea, dizziness.

The appearance of negative signs is possible when tryptophan or 5-HTP is taken together with antidepressants or other drugs that affect the serotonin content. In case of excessive serotonin concentration, serotonin syndrome can develop.

This is a condition characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Increased sweating.
  • Limb tremor.
  • Psycho-emotional excitement.
  • Rave.

Talk to your doctor before taking tryptophan or 5-HTP drugs to avoid causing an excessive increase in serotonin levels.

The study of the effect of tryptophan indicates a minimal risk of minor side effects. Excessive increases in the recommended dose may cause nausea and dizziness. Negative symptoms may be more pronounced with joint treatment with agents that affect the concentration of serotonin in the blood.

Instead of a conclusion

In the human body, tryptophan is involved in the synthesis of the most important hormones - serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin influences the mechanisms of cognition, behavioral reactions and the degree of psycho-emotional mood. The sleep-wake cycle depends on melatonin levels.

Insufficient tryptophan levels significantly reduce serotonin and melatonin levels. Deficiency of biologically active compounds leads to negative changes in the functioning of the central nervous system.

Tryptophan enters the body along with some foods. It is permissible to increase the intake of amino acids in the form of food additives. It is important to observe the recommended dose. Otherwise, side effects may develop. An aggravation of negative symptoms can be observed during treatment with drugs that affect serotonin levels, for example, antidepressants.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that has a beneficial effect on health and the quality of daily life. Melanin and other tryptophan compounds can be consumed as active dietary supplements. They will have a positive effect on people suffering from sleep disturbances, bad moods.


Article author: Mochalov Pavel Alexandrovich | d. m. n. therapist

Education: Moscow Medical Institute. IM Sechenov, specialty - "General Medicine" in 1991, in 1993 "Occupational Diseases", in 1996 "Therapy".

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