How L-Tryptophan Benefits Your Mood and Sleep
If sleep is the foundation to good health then maximizing the total amount of quality sleep you experience each night is paramount to your overall well being.
Even though our society as a whole has progressed leaps and bounds over the last century, our shift away from the natural world has without a doubt led many people to suffer from lack of quality sleep.
Minimal sunlight exposure, a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, chronic stress, and excessive screen time are all factors that contribute to disrupted sleep patterns. Overtime, an accumulation of sleep deficits can become taxing on your brain and body, leading to serious health concerns.
In addition to behavioural and lifestyle changes, reconnecting with the natural world and leveraging compounds derived from plant sources like Tryptophan may not only help you improve your sleep but could support the normal function of many physiological pathways.*
What is L-Tryptophan?
L-Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is responsible for a number of important bodily functions including its role in synthesizing the hormones and neurotransmitters that regulate your mood and sleep.
As one of the nine essential amino acids, you can only get Tryptophan from food sources like poultry or supplements derived from plant sources, since your body cannot produce it on its own. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that you should consume at least 4mg of Tryptophan per kilogram of body weight everyday.1
Tryptophan is one of the building blocks for sleep and studies have shown that people who consume a diet rich in Tryptophan experience less anxiety, irritability, and depression.2
The Relationship Between Mood, Stress and Sleep
Have you ever had a poor night’s sleep and felt agitated the next day or have had to spend time around someone with an uncharacteristically short temper? This could be due to a lack of rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep the night before.
Each night you experience four primary stages of sleep, which for simplicity sake, can be bucketed into either slow-wave sleep or REM sleep.
Neuroscientists now believe that slow-wave sleep is responsible for motor and detailed learning, whereas REM sleep is thought to help your brain regulate and process emotions.
REM sleep deprivation has been associated with anxiety, emotional instability and heightened stress levels during the day.3
When you don't sleep well, your stress hormones remain active throughout the night and become more elevated during the day, making it difficult for you to fall asleep the following evening. As you can see, this stress-sleep cycle can perpetuate a rather detrimental loop, leading to a weakened immune system, heart disease, high blood pressure and a number of other health concerns.
How L-Tryptophan Benefits Your Mood and Sleep
In addition to acting as one of the building blocks to the biosynthesis of protein, Tryptophan supports mood and sleep by way of the serotonin pathway.
Once Tryptophan makes its way into the bloodstream, it is converted into metabolic intermediate called 5-HTP before being synthesized into serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood, impulse control, emotional stability, cognition and memory.4
In fact, studies have shown that Tryptophan depletion directly affects serotonin levels in the brain and can impair cognitive functions like long term memory.5
Further down the serotonin pathway, a hormone responsible for a number of biological processes including governing your sleep-wake cycle called melatonin is created.
Known as the hormone of darkness, melatonin is the reason why we feel sleepy at night and studies have shown that an increase in Tryptophan will directly elevate melatonin levels in the blood.6
Does L-Tryptophan Make You Sleepy?
After Tryptophan is absorbed into the bloodstream, it is converted to 5-HTP then serotonin and finally, melatonin, a hormone responsible for governing your sleep cycle.
Melatonin is secreted by your pineal gland and is one of the reasons why you start to feel sleepy at night.
When you wake up in the morning, cellular signals start a timer telling your pineal gland to start releasing melatonin in approximately 12 to 14 hours. Melatonin levels are typically lowest in the morning and begin to creep higher later in the evening, effectively calming the mind by reducing neurotransmitter activity in the brain.
Some researchers believe that dietary Tryptophan from food sources does not easily cross the blood-brain barrier and therefore may not be converted to melatonin. This is because the level of absorption is dependent on the ratio of Tryptophan compared to other amino acids in your food.7
If you are looking for help falling asleep at night, then choosing a highly bioavailable form of Tryptophan derived from plant-sources may be a better solution compared to animal protein food sources.*
Is L-Tryptophan Safe?
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid and considered safe when taken in normal quantities as long as you do not have any underlying health concerns.*
The typical daily intake of L-Tryptophan is around 5mg/kg of body weight, however many people choose to consume approximately 5g per day to support mood and sleep.*
You should not take L-Tryptophan if you are on sedatives or medications like antidepressants that increase brain concentration levels of serotonin. Tryptophan could exacerbate the effects of these medications, causing excess drowsiness and in some cases may lead to serotonin syndrome.8
You should always consult a doctor prior to use if you are taking any medications or are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Summary: How L-Tryptophan Benefits Your Mood and Sleep
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that serves many important processes in your body including the production of serotonin and melatonin.
Serotonin is responsible for regulating your mood, emotions and behaviour, while melatonin governs your sleep-wake cycle.
Our unnatural world of convenience and artificially lit offices has led many people to suffer from sleep deprivation in some form or another. Overtime, these deficits can compound, affecting your sleep-wake cycle, mood and stress levels during the day.
Sleep is the foundation to health and facilitates many important cognitive functions, including our ability to learn, memorize, and retain information. It regulates our emotions, maintains our immune system and helps stabilize a healthy metabolism.
Unfortunately, many people suffering from sleep problems tend to turn to synthetic melatonin or sedatives. Although these options may help you fall asleep they tend to cause you to wake up in the middle of night and could cause excessive drowsiness in the morning.
If you are an otherwise healthy adult, supplementing with a highly bioavailable form Tryptophan derived from plant sources may be all the help you need to improve sleep latency, quality and duration.
Night Botanic is a plant-based sleep aid that includes L-Tryptophan derived from corn for superior absorption. In addition, the formula includes a Montmorency Tart Cherry extract, one of the only plant sources that contains concentrated levels of naturally occurring melatonin, ensuring you’ll have restful sleep each without groggy side effects the next day.*
*The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is intended for educational purposes. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by licensed medical physicians. Please consult your doctor or health practitioner for any medical advice.