What is Serotonin and How Does it Affect Your Sleep?

Jeremy Sherk · Oct 26 2020

You deserve to be happy

Serotonin [aka the happy chemical] is a soothing neurotransmitter that the human brain produces naturally. It is produced from the amino acid tryptophan which is derived from dietary proteins.

Serotonin performs many super functions in the brain’s biochemistry, and is responsible for maintaining an upbeat mood while boosting self-confidence. 

So, next time you’re unusually happy and feel like you can take on the world...serotonin might just be responsible.

Some Serotonin functions and how it affects sleep

Serotonin regulates mood. It’s often referred to as the body’s natural “feel-good” chemical. So, a “feel-good” day should lead to a good night’s sleep right?

Serotonin aids digestion. It contributes to normal bowel function, reduces your appetite for food so you know when you’re full, and helps digest food easier and faster. And fast digestion should be your goal when snacking before bed.

Serotonin promotes sleep. While it doesn’t act alone [working with other neurotransmitters like dopamine and melatonin]...serotonin influences when, how much, and how well you sleep.

So, apart from boosting your mood and confidence, serotonin also helps sustain the body’s 24-hour rhythms and promotes deep and sustained sleep.

It helps regulate your emotions and circadian rhythms, signalling your body to go to sleep or wake up...at about the same time each day.

What happens if you’re serotonin deficient? 

Even though serotonin is produced in the brain naturally, far too many people aren’t producing enough of it to experience its calming, exhilarating effects.

Low serotonin levels have been linked to low mood, unhealthy sleep patterns and all kinds of mental and physical issues. 


Some symptoms of serotonin deficiency includes:

  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Binge eating 
  • Headaches
  • Feeling overwhelmed and unhappy
  • Anger and irritability
  • Issues with mental alertness

Causes of low serotonin

While there’s no single cause for low serotonin levels, two major reasons stand out. It’s either your body is not producing enough serotonin naturally; or your body is using the serotonin it produces inefficiently.

Now, one reason your body might not be producing enough serotonin could be due to factors like nutritional and vitamin deficiencies. 

For instance, low levels of vitamin B6 and D have been associated with decreased levels of serotonin. Meanwhile, the essential amino acid tryptophan [involved in serotonin production] can only be sourced through diet.

On the other hand, your body might be producing enough serotonin but using it inefficiently. This occurs when you don’t have enough serotonin receptors in your brain or the ones available are not working optimally.

Natural ways to boost serotonin

While you can boost your serotonin levels using prescription antidepressant medications, there are natural ways to increase serotonin levels:

#1: Food 

While many foods naturally contain serotonin, other nutrients such as tryptophan, vitamin B6, vitamin D and even omega-3 fatty acids are needed to produce serotonin.

Foods like bananas, beans, leafy greens, nuts and seeds etc. are good sources of the essential nutrients listed above.

#2: Light exposure

Not getting enough sunshine can result in low serotonin.

So, spending between 10 to 15 minutes outside in the sun each day can help. Plus, sunlight boosts your vitamin D levels which is an important vitamin in serotonin production.

For when you don’t have enough access to natural sunlight, you could consider light therapy to get your daily dose of sunlight.

#3: Exercise

Regular physical activity has been shown to boost serotonin levels. 

Workouts can help shake off feelings of depression and other mood disorders by improving strength and endurance as well as helping to maintain a healthy weight.

#4: Massage

Massage helps the body release more serotonin while also reducing the stress hormone, cortisol. Good news is you don’t even need a professional massage to get these benefits. 

A study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience in 2004 concluded that massage could be beneficial even when given by someone who isn't a trained massage therapist.  

In fact, after participants in the study had two 20-minute massage sessions given by their partners, their serotonin levels increased by 28% and their dopamine levels by 31%.

#5: Supplements

Sometimes, [no thanks] to our diet and lifestyle choices...we just don’t produce enough serotonin naturally.

Research has even shown that people with low serotonin levels almost always have nutritional deficiencies, which prevents the body from making enough serotonin.

But not to worry, supplements can help make up for low serotonin levels.

You can try our LUNA Natural Sleep Aid absolutely risk free and save 25% with discount code "SleepNaturally". Simply use this code at checkout and instantly save 25% on your purchase of LUNA.

LUNA Natural Sleep Aid comes with a life-time money back guarantee, meaning if you do not get the best sleep of your life -- simply contact us for a no-questions-asked full refund.

Want even more tips and ideas? Great! Watch the video version of What is Serotonin and How Does it Affect Your Sleep