For most people, getting a prescription sleeping pill from their doctor is the quickest and easiest way for them to solve their sleep problems. But prescription sleep aids actually haven’t been around for that long; so the hard science on their long-term safety is just starting to come to light. As it turns out, they’re not nearly as safe as we once thought. Some medical experts are recommending that seniors over the age of 65 not be prescribed prescription sleeping pills at all because they could be a contributing factor in age-related brain disease.
Even if you’re not yet in your mid-60s, relying too heavily on hard sleep drugs can still cause physical damage. But did you know that the answer to your sleeping troubles could be as simple as taking an amino acid supplement? In addition to that, medical experts are also starting to discover some new, hard science related to a natural compound called 5-HTP. It turns out that it can help a lot of people fall asleep faster and get better quality sleep over all.
What Does the Human Body Do With 5-HTP?
In case you didn’t know, 5-HTP is an acronym for 5-hydroxytryptophan. Or if you want to keep it simple, you can refer to it by its other name: oxitriptan. This amino acid is naturally produced as a part of your normal daily biological minutiae. It’s not essential, meaning that you can either get it from your diet or your body can produce it from other free amino acids that are floating around in your bloodstream. One of the main purposes of 5-HTP is to act as a building block of serotonin. The more serotonin you have in your body and your brain, the more likely you are to feel happy and experience fewer mood imbalances. But if you don’t have enough, sleeplessness and insomnia are just a couple of the unfortunate side effects it can cause.
In general, you want to have healthy levels of serotonin in your brain throughout the day if you want to sleep better at night. Whenever you’re happy, you’re automatically feeling much less stress. And that stress (which comes from a troublesome little molecule called cortisol) is what causes a cascade of hormonal responses that make it hard to fall asleep at night.
5-HTP isn’t just the building block of serotonin. It’s also the building block of melatonin. Melatonin is more commonly referred to as the sleep hormone. The body usually makes more melatonin at night in response to darkness. Unfortunately, we are almost always surrounded by bright lights. And if you have a 5-HTP deficiency on top of that, it can be nearly impossible to produce enough melatonin to get a proper night’s sleep. Improving your sleep hygiene and creating the right environment for encouraging your body to produce melatonin is only half the battle. Getting the 5-HTP you need – weather from diet, supplements, or both – will push you into the optimal position for maximum melatonin production.
Priming the Pump for 5-HTP Production
There are so many things in life which can either be positively or negatively affected by diet that it’s almost impossible to count them all. But your 5-HTP production is definitely on that long list. If you have enough l-tryptophan in your system, your body can break it down and recycle its parts to construct 5-HTP. So what can you eat to get more l-tryptophan into your system? The higher the protein in your meats, the better. Turkey is a great example. In fact, if you’ve ever felt sleepy after a thanksgiving meal, tryptophan is probably the reason why. But tryptophan can be found in other foods besides turkey. Raw nuts, high protein veggies, and plenty of dairy products are also rich in l-tryptophan.
But don’t go overboard at the grocery store buying those l-tryptophan foods just yet. Some of those food – especially the high protein meats and nuts – will expand your grocery bill by quite a bit. And even if purchasing those foods is no problem for you, don’t pat yourself on the back just yet. You’re probably going to have to spend some time learning new recipes and making new meals, which most busy people don’t have time for. Absorbing and digesting that l-tryptophan is going to put an extra workload on your body on top of everything; but it gets worse. If you really want to change your diet to help your body make more 5-HTP, you need to eat your meals at the right time of day, too.
Despite all of this work, dietary changes may still fail to help your body produce the right amount of 5-HTP. So what do you do if that happens? You don’t have to keep guessing and experimenting with your diet to figure out the answer. You can try taking a 5-HTP supplement instead.
The Pros and Cons of 5-HTP Supplements
There are plenty of vitamin stores out there – and even some drug stores – which sell 5-HTP supplements. If you’re not taking any other supplements or vitamins, this might not be so bad. But if you, like so many other people, are trying to hack your body into optimal performance with many different supplements, do you really want to throw one more onto the pile? If you’re averse to taking fistfuls of nutraceuticals on a daily basis, then a 5-HTP supplement may not be for you.
On the other hand, you can take a supplement that includes 5-HTP as a part of its total formula. If you go this route, it’s important to look for supplements which contain complementary ingredients. These complementary ingredients will work synergistically with the 5-HTP in order to help your body sleep better. In case it isn’t obvious by now, the supplement you’re going to want to look for is a natural sleep supplement. We’ve seen plenty of natural sleep aids which contain 5-HTP along with other helpful ingredients such as melatonin, valerian root, and even chamomile. And if you keep perusing our site, we will be happy to offer you some helpful suggestions.