The Effect of Tryptophan on Your Sleep

Our last blog looked at some of the foods which can improve your sleep. Some of these foods are beneficial for enhancing rest because they contain high amounts of tryptophan...
The Effect of Tryptophan on Your Sleep

So, what is tryptophan?

Tryptophan is an amino acid that our bodies need, but cannot produce. It is found in small amounts in protein-rich foods such as eggs, nuts, cheese and tofu. Though, for tryptophan to have a sedative effect on the body, it must cross the blood-brain barrier. Consuming carbohydrates at the same time stimulates the release of insulin which clears other amino acids from the bloodstream and helps tryptophan to reach the brain.

Foods rich in iron, vitamin B6, vitamin C and magnesium also help tryptophan get to the brain. There is some evidence to suggest that tryptophan can be degraded by cytokines. These pro-inflammatory proteins are released into the body in response to certain fats and sickness. Research indicates that Omega 3s can help to reduce cytokine levels as well as reducing saturated fat intake.

The most important biomolecules required for the promotion of good sleep are serotonin (neurotransmitter) and melatonin (hormone), both of which are made from tryptophan. If the body does not get enough tryptophan, the quality of rest is likely to be affected as will not be able to produce enough serotonin or melatonin to induce sleep. 

Tryptophan is also known to have several other benefits;

  • Reduces depression symptoms
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Boost immune system
  • Improves exercise endurance
  • Relieves pre-menstrual symptoms
  • Balances hormones
  • Regulates moods
  • Supresses appetite
  • Helps with quitting sugar and smoking

This is because of 5HTP, a by-product of tryptophan. 5HTP is a precursor to serotonin, making it an essential component for its biochemical synthesis in the body. It is converted into serotonin by way of a chemical reaction caused by L-aromatic amino acid decarboxylase (AAAD). As our serotonin production declines over time, it is important to ensure that our bodies get enough tryptophan to maintain good sleep patterns. 

Make sure you include tryptophan-rich foods in your diet, such as;

  • Seeds and nuts
  • Oats
  • Bran
  • Cheese
  • Fish
  • Beans & lentils
  • Eggs
  • Soya-based foods

If you would like to find out more about how REM-Fit sleep monitoring technology can help you to get a better night’s rest, please get in touch with our experienced, knowledgeable staff by calling 020 8731 0020 or email us via

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