L-Tryptophan For Sleep – Does It Really Work?

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Updated February 26, 2021

L-TryptophanL-Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is used by many people worldwide as a cure for insomnia. It is not naturally produced in the body, which means it must be obtained from either food or supplements. In fact, it is the reason why you tend to feel sleepy after eating thanksgiving turkey.

When you supplement with L-Tryptophan, you are able to effectively increase serotonin levels in your body, which can lead to anxiety relief and sleep induction. L-Tryptophan is converted into 5 HTP upon ingestion and then eventually converted to serotonin.

L-Tryptophan Benefits

L-Tryptophan benefits people with anxiety and insomnia more so than anyone else due to the fact that it can help balance hormones such as serotonin and 5 HTP, both of which have been shown to be directly related to anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders.

Since tryptophan is eventually converted into serotonin after ingestion, it can help enhance your mood and relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. It is most commonly used as a sleep supplement because of the deeply relaxing effect it tends to have on people, which is why it’s most highly recommended for people with insomnia.

Here is a list of the major L-Tryptophan Benefits:

  • Reduces anxiety
  • Induces sleep
  • Improves mood
  • Boosts 5 HTP levels
  • Increases serotonin production
  • Prepares the body and mind for sleep

Foods High In Tryptophan Vs. Tryptophan Supplements

As was mentioned before, tryptophan is not produced naturally in the body, which means that it must be derived from outside sources. Your two options are foods high in tryptophan or tryptophan supplements. We believe the best option is to use tryptophan based supplements rather than depending on your diet to get enough of it.

If you choose to use a supplement, all you have to do is take a capsule before bed instead of trying to make sure you eat enough of certain foods on a daily basis. You can get sick of eating these certain foods, which ultimately means your tryptophan intake will naturally decrease overtime as you get sick of the foods.

More importantly, you get much higher dosages of tryptophan by using tryptophan supplements. Food can only contain so much of it, whereas manufacturers can put as much of it as they want into a supplement. Therefore, if you pick the right supplement, tryptophan effects can be significantly more potent than they would be if you attempted to depend on food alone.

However, if you choose to simply depend on food, here is a list of foods high in tryptophan:

  • Turkey
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Tofu
  • Oats
  • Cheese
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Pineapples
  • Seeds

Tryptophan Side Effects

As you can see, tryptophan is found in many different foods. Have you ever experienced side effects after consuming these foods? More likely than not, these foods do not cause you to experience side effects, which proves that tryptophan does not produce side effects either.

Since it is simply an amino acid, it’s very unlikely that you would have any issues when supplementing with tryptophan. It is natural and safe. With that said, some people have reported the following tryptophan side effects in rare instances: heartburn, stomach pain, belching, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Again, it is not likely that you would experience any of these rare side effects.

Conclusion: Should You Use L-Tryptophan For Sleep?

Using L-Tryptophan has been clinically proven to help people fall asleep time and time again. Since it is a natural method of sleep induction, it is much safer than using prescription sleep medications. Tryptophan is ideal for people looking for some help falling asleep, and it tends to work most efficiently when combined with other similar nutrients.

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Joe Costello CNC
Certified Nutrition Coach (CNC)
Joe Costello is a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certified Nutrition Coach, author, and internet blogger. Joe has more than 10 years of experience in the sports nutrition industry and over 3 years of experience as a supplement and nutrition blogger. As a Certified Nutrition Coach who specializes in dietary supplements, Joe strives to deliver accurate, comprehensive, and research-backed information to his readers.

You can find more of Joe’s work including his E-Books about fitness and nutrition at his official website joecostellonwc.com, or connect with him on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo, or YouTube. Joe Costello is one of the founders of TheSupplementReviews.org and years after the creation of the site, partnered with TEK Naturals, a nutritional supplement company.