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How Tryptophan Boosts Mood and Sleep Quality

A good night’s sleep goes a long way in shaping your day, and it’s vital to have a stress-free, relaxed night. Sleeping right also elevates mood and reduces feelings of stress, irritability, and anxiety. To enjoy a proper sleep routine, it is necessary that your body is supplied with nutrition. Tryptophan is an amino acid that can be found in several food supplements that help build vital molecules and proteins in the body. Amino acids don’t just make protein but they’re also necessary to transmit signals from cell to cell for better body function. Tryptophan is responsible in aiding the brain and other body organs, inducing optimal sleep and helping in improving and positively affecting mood.

The Role of Tryptophan

When tryptophan enters the body, it is converted into the 5-HTP molecule that creates serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin affects the brain, as well as the intestines directly, and influences cognition, memory, mood, and sleep. Melatonin, on the other hand, is a hormone that is known for its role in the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Serotonin and melatonin influence several bodily functions, especially with their role in brain functions. It is believed that low levels of tryptophan are directly responsible for mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. Research has found that participants who were asked to consume larger doses of amino acids with tryptophan reacted better than those with lower than normal levels. The research concluded that the effects of low tryptophan included anxiety, feelings of nervousness, tension, and social awkwardness. It is also believed that low tryptophan might result in signs of increased impulsiveness and aggression in certain individuals.

Low Levels of Tryptophan

Low tryptophan levels in the body may impair proper sleep because it isn’t able to convert molecules into serotonin and melatonin. Since increased melatonin is usually linked with mood stability and proper sleep, maintaining proper tryptophan levels in the body is necessary. Melatonin is not just capable of controlling the sleep cycle, regulating when one sleeps and when they wake up, it also controls nutrient metabolism and the body’s immune system. Less sleep means increased irritability and bad mood upon waking up, and increases the risk of other stressors. Further research talks about how low tryptophan levels can impair cognitive abilities. That means without proper tryptophan, the brain’s ability to retain long-term memory and improve cognitive performances can be affected.

Sources of Tryptophan

While melatonin is found in food such as tomatoes, grapes, and strawberries, tryptophan can also be found in natural food sources. Proteins such as poultry, eggs, shrimp, crabs, and elk have a naturally occurring boost of tryptophan that can be achieved upon consumption. The recommended daily dosage of tryptophan should be at least one gram and this can easily be achieved with tryptophan-rich food. Alternately, if these food items are not your thing, then tryptophan-rich supplements are a good choice. Options can include supplements that are derived from tryptophan such as melatonin or 5-HTP, but for overall health and better sleep cycle, it is advisable to take tryptophan supplements directly. For vegetarians, eating food such as milk, cheese, bananas, and peanuts could provide the required tryptophan dosage.

Any Side Effects?

Since tryptophan is found in foods and is essentially an amino acid, there are no harsh effects with its consumption, at least within required limits. A consumption of 1 gm per day is considered safe, but some people have been known to boost dosage up to 5 gm. While this is in no way life-threatening, over dosage may result in symptoms such as light tremors, agitation, perspiration, and delirium. However, these symptoms might occur only if supplements are taken in combination with medication that may increase serotonin levels in the body, such as anti-depressants. It is therefore a better call to consult your doctor before taking any tryptophan of 5-HTP supplements.

Sleep is a natural tonic for the body and no matter how ‘strong’ one considers themselves to be, without proper sleep, the body will begin to suffer. An adult needs at least six to seven hours of sleep, if not more, but can still function with less. However, continually denying sleep may result in long-term damage to the body, not to mention negatively influence mood. It is therefore a good decision to keep tryptophan levels steady in the body, whether by natural means such as foods, or taking supplements.

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