What is tryptophan? Tryptophan is an essential amino acid in the human body. It functions as a biochemical precursor to sleep inducing compounds serotonin and melatonin. This tryptophan amino acid is not naturally produced in the body therefore It has to come from our diet. Eating foods high in tryptophan are known to promote calmness or feelings of lethargy. A tryptophan deficiency may lead to low levels of serotonin. Low serotonin levels are associated with depression, anxiety, irritability, impatience, impulsiveness, inability to concentrate, weight gain, overeating, carbohydrate cravings, poor dream recall, and insomnia. Vitamin B6 is necessary for the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin. Consequently, a dietary deficiency of vitamin B6 may result in low serotonin levels and/or impaired conversion of tryptophan. In addition, several dietary, lifestyle, and health factors reduce the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin, including cigarette smoking, high sugar intake, alcohol abuse, excessive consumption of protein, hypoglycemia and diabetes.
Eating carbohydrates that are included in tryptophan foods makes more calming amino acids in the brain. Since tryptophan is produced in the liver, carbohydrates help tryptophan enter the brain to manufacture serotonin and melatonin. Eating foods high in protein right before bed have the opposite effect , they actually can keep you awake. The best bed time snack would be one that has complex carbohydrates, a small amount of protein and some calcium, because calcium also helps the brain make melatonin. This is why a glass of warm milk is one of the top sleep inducing foods.
Tryptophan rich foods are:
• Dairy products: cottage cheese, cheese, milk
• Soy products: soy milk, tofu, soybean nuts
• Whole grains
• Hazelnuts, Peanuts
• Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
Is tryptophan myth or fact? When it comes to tryptophan in turkey, we all know that eating a Thanksgiving meals makes us sleepy and turkey does contain tryptophan, but the fact is you would have to eat 40 lbs of turkey to get enough tryptophan into your brain to make you sleepy. In actuality, other sources of tryptophan with the same amount are found in chicken and beef.. Furthermore, post-meal drowsiness on Thanksgiving may have more to do with what else is consumed along with the turkey and, in particular, carbohydrates. Therefore, this data suggest that “feast-induced drowsiness” – and, in particular, the common Christmas and Thanksgiving dinner drowsiness – may be the result of a heavy meal rich in carbohydrates, which in turn increases the production of sleep-promoting melatonin in the brain.
The content provided in Tryptophan Rich Foods Induce Sleep Myth or Fact is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for you or your families sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.