What is Tryptophan and How Does it Help Me Sleep?

Richmond Gbenga · Aug 12 2020

Tryptophan is a sleep-inducing amino acid that is found in most protein foods -- although, in small amounts. It is, in fact, a precursor to serotonin [the happy chemical] and melatonin [a popular sleep hormone]. Tryptophan can be converted into a molecule called 5-HTP [5-hydroxytryptophan], which is used to make serotonin and melatonin.

Truth is, nothing compensates for a good night’s sleep. 

Aside from the fact that sleep helps reduce stress, anxiety, and blood pressure -- it also helps you refresh and recharge for the next day.

So, how does Tryptophan help me sleep exactly?

Tryptophan helps to produce the proteins and molecules super important for a good mood and better sleep. 

How? Well, tryptophan helps to make serotonin -- which in turn influences sleep, cognition and mood. It also helps produce melatonin -- which controls your sleep-wake cycle [like an internal clock, ensuring you sleep and wake up when you should].

Studies have shown that increasing tryptophan in the diet can improve sleep by increasing the melatonin levels in your body.

Another study also showed that eating cereals rich in tryptophan both at breakfast and dinner helped adults fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, compared to when they ate regular cereals.

The same study even showed a reduction in anxiety and depression [two major sleep stealers], and it’s most likely that happened because tryptophan helped increase both the serotonin and melatonin levels in these adults.

So, in a nutshell, increasing tryptophan intake can lead to higher levels of melatonin, which in turn improves how well and how long you sleep.

Perhaps, you’re wondering what foods are rich in tryptophan, and how much tryptophan intake is good enough to induce sleep, right? 

Well, while you get a small amount of the amino acid every time you eat protein, how much intake is dependent on how much protein you can take in per time, as well as your protein source. A typical protein diet produces roughly 1 gram of tryptophan per day...but is that good enough?

If you’d like to improve your sleep quality and overall well-being [who doesn’t?] you might want to try tryptophan-enriched supplements. 

OK, that’s it folks -- but before you go…

Why not try our gentle sleep aid, LUNA which relaxes you, lulls you to sleep, and helps you wake up feeling fully refreshed. Ready? Get LUNA Sleep Aid