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Science-Based Health Benefits of Tryptophan

Science-Based Health Benefits of Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid which plays an important role in the body. It is needed to make melatonin and 5-hydroxytryptophan or 5-HTP which is a precursor to serotonin.1

Serotonin and melatonin both play key roles in the brain.2 Serotonin influences mood and sleep while melatonin is involved in the sleep-wake cycle.3,4

Tryptophan is included in Sleep Support by Beyond Vita®. 

1. Helps Improve Sleep

Melatonin regulates sleep and research indicates that raising tryptophan levels in the body increases levels of melatonin.5

Two studies have found that consuming more tryptophan in the diet helps improve sleep by increasing the production of melatonin.6,7

Research has shown that supplementing melatonin improves sleep quality, decreases the time it takes to fall asleep and increases time spent sleeping.8

A study on insomniacs supplementing with tryptophan found that total sleep time increased by 28% by decreasing the time it took to fall asleep and increasing the time spent sleeping.9

In another study in insomniac participants, researchers found that tryptophan was able to increase REM sleep otherwise known as deep sleep.10

A study has also shown that tryptophan is even able to improve sleep for those with obstructive sleep apnea.11

Tryptophan supplementation raises melatonin which plays an important role in improving sleep.

2. Depression and Anxiety

Tryptophan can have a positive effect on mood, depression and anxiety after it’s converted to 5-HTP which also can be converted to serotonin.12

Low brain serotonin levels are associated with a depressed mood as shown in a 2016 study.13 Furthermore administration of 5-HTP has been shown to be effective in treating depression.14

Additionally in the Journal of Psychiatry Research, supplementation of 5-HTP has also been shown to decrease subjective anxiety and inhibit panic in participants with panic disorder.15 Another study supports the reduction in anxiety from tryptophan supplementation in panic disorder patients.16

Tryptophan may be beneficial in improving depression and reducing anxiety.

3. Memory

Tryptophan levels can also have an impact on learning and memory.

A large review study found that tryptophan depletion impairs the consolidation of episodic memory for verbal information.17

Serotonin might be behind the effects tryptophan has on memory. In a study into the effects of tryptophan researchers concluded that tryptophan depletion impairs long-term memory formation due to an acute decrease in serotonin in the brain.18

Tryptophan depletion may lead to a reduction in serotonin in the brain which can impair learning and memory.


Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that may help with sleep, mood and memory.*

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