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Unwinding at Night: The Benefits of 5-HTP for Sleep and Anxiety

Unwinding at Night: The Benefits of 5-HTP for Sleep and Anxiety

If you suffer from anxiety, it could be impacting your sleep hygiene, and vice versa. Anxiety can trigger changes to your sleep patterns, while poor sleep can impact emotional regulation and mood.

5-HTP (or 5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a chemical naturally found in the body, which has a direct or indirect impact on sleep and anxiety. It can also be produced for supplementation from the seeds of an African plant called Griffonia Simplicifolia.

Here, we investigate the research into the benefits of using 5-HTP to help you achieve better sleep, and how to supplement it in your diet.


What is 5-HTP?

A naturally-occurring amino acid, 5-HTP supports the body’s production of serotonin — an important chemical messenger that transmits signals between your nerve cells.i

Often called the ‘happy hormone’, serotonin is mostly known for its role in wellbeing and regulating the sleep-wake cycles.ii Low serotonin stores have been linked to cases of anxiety, depression, and sleep problems.iii Increasing your intake of 5-HTP, therefore, could offer multiple health benefits.


How does 5-HTP support sleep?

It’s thought that 5-HTP supports sleep by promoting the production of serotonin.

Some experts believe increased serotonin production can impact sleep health as it may affect emotional factors known to interfere with sleep.

Given that 5-HTP aids the production of serotonin, experts believe it can play a role in reducing anxiety, stress and depression. In a 2012 study, researchers found that taking 5-HTP reduced symptoms of panic and anxiety in subjects with a panic disorder.iv In managing symptoms of anxiety, 5-HTP can help to relax the mind and prepare the body for bed at night.

Research also suggests 5-HTP may support the reduction of low mood and depressionv, which can lead to sleep troubles, but more studies are needed into this area. While the exact causes of depression remain largely unknown, some experts believe a serotonin imbalance may, in certain circumstances, be a contributing factor.vi By increasing levels of serotonin, therefore, 5-HTP may help to improve the regulation of mood and promote better sleep health.

5-HTP also aids sleep as it increases levels of serotonin, which plays a role in levels of the body’s sleep hormone, melatoninvii, so an increase in serotonin influences melatonin production.

Melatonin governs the body’s ‘sleep-wake’ cycle. Production of the hormone rises in the evening to promote sleep and drops in the morning to help wake the body up. With its capacity to increase serotonin, 5-HTP aids the neurochemical process that encourages quality sleep and regulates the biological clock.

There’s a growing body of data to suggest 5-HTP may help shorten sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep) and increase sleep amounts. A review of available treatments for poor sleep revealed that 5-HTP supported the reduction of sleep-walking, sleep terrors, and arousal.viii

Another study highlighted that when 5-HTP was combined with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) — a chemical messenger that promotes relaxation — it significantly decreased the time it took to fall asleep, improved sleep quality, and increased sleep duration.ix However, while these findings are promising, it’s difficult to ascertain the effects of 5-HTP in insolation since GABA was also involved in the analysis.


What is the best way to boost my 5-HTP intake?

Since 5-HTP can’t be found in food, the only means to attain it is through supplementation. To support quality sleep, we recommend taking 100-300 mg of Nature’s Best 5-HTP 100 mg (extracted from 800 mg Griffonia seeds), 30-45 minutes before bed.

5-HTP can negatively interact with some medications (particularly those that increase serotonin production) you should always consult your doctor before taking it. 

By increasing serotonin, 5-HTP helps to minimise stress, anxiety, and low mood — all of which can disrupt sleep — as well as indirectly supporting the production of melatonin. It’s an excellent addition to your diet for aiding sleep.

If you’d like to learn more about improving your sleep hygiene, as well as more information on other natural sleep supplements, explore our dedicated sleep health resources.


 



References:

  1. 5 Science-Based Benefits of 5-HTP (Plus Dosage and Side Effects). Healthline. Available online: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/5-htp-benefits

  2. & Serotonin: Facts, uses, SSRIs, and sources. Medical News Today. Available online: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/232248

  3. Insomnia, serotonin and depression. Georgian Med News. (150), 22-4.

  4. , , et al. Acute l-5-hydroxytryptophan administration inhibits carbon dioxide-induced panic in panic disorder patients. Psychiatry Research. 113(3), 237-243.

  5. , , , et al. Tryptophan and 5-Hydroxytryptophan for depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

  6. & What has serotonin to do with depression? World Psychiatry. 14(2), 158-160.

  7. 5 Science-Based Benefits of 5-HTP (Plus Dosage and Side Effects). Healthline. Available online: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/5-htp-benefits

  8. , , Treatment of insomnia: effectiveness and tolerance of a valerian extract [in German]. Current Treatment Options in Neurology. 20(7).

  9. , , et al. A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of an Amino Acid Preparation on Timing and Quality of Sleep. American Journal of Therapeutics. 17(2), 133-139.

   

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Our Author - Olivia Salter

Olivia

Olivia Salter has always been an avid health nut. After graduating from the University of Bristol, she began working for a nutritional consultancy where she discovered her passion for all things wellness-related. There, she executed much of the company’s content marketing strategy and found her niche in health writing, publishing articles in Women’s Health, Mind Body Green, Thrive and Psychologies.

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