Does 5HTP work? Science Based Benefits for Sleep and Depression.
Do you suffer from depression or anxiety?
Is it impacting your sleep?
If you would like something natural to help then 5-HTP could be what you’re looking for.
To feel mentally well needs our mind, body and brain to be functioning in balance. Transforming your brain health has a cascade of benefits that can take your wellbeing journey one step further.
Not only can you feel great but you are getting one step closer to living the life you want and 5-HTP could be one of the key ingredients to improve your brain health.
Here at M+E I believe in the fundamentals of true, science-based, wholistic mental health:
I also know that sometimes all those things just aren’t enough to transform your mental wellbeing.
I believe in targeted solution-based supplements that can transform your life because I’ve seen it in myself, in my family and in my clients.
Some of the most difficult symptoms of anxiety and depression are changes to your energy levels and sleep patterns. Trouble getting off to sleep, waking in the night and not being able to get back to sleep, feeling sleepy all day, or too wired to sleep at all are very common problems. While feeling tired and exhausted due to poor sleep is well known to impact mood and anxiety.
Here, I’m going to look at the benefits of using 5-HTP to enhance your brain health and your mood, ease your anxiety and help you to sleep better.
What is 5-HTP?
5-HTP (or 5-Hydroxytryptophan) comes from the seeds of an African plant called Griffonia Simplicifolia.
5-HTP supports the body’s production of serotonin — an important chemical messenger that has a vital role in your brain for mood and sleep.
Often called the ‘happy hormone’, serotonin is mostly known for its role in wellbeing and regulating the sleep-wake cycles. Low serotonin levels have been linked to cases of anxiety, depression, and sleep problems.
Increasing your intake of 5-HTP, therefore, could offer many mental health benefits.
5-HTP is a nootropic that is part of the serotonin pathway along with tryptophan and melatonin.
Tryptophan may also increase serotonin levels (5)
L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid found in protein-rich foods, such as dairy products, poultry, meat, chickpeas, cashew nuts and soybeans.
On the other hand, 5-HTP is not present in foods and can only be added to your diet through a supplement (6
1. Your body converts 5-HTP into serotonin, a substance that regulates mood, appetite, pain sensations and sleep.
2. Supplementing with it is an effective way to boost your serotonin levels.
3. Higher serotonin levels may provide many benefits, such as improving the symptoms of depression and anxiety and helping you sleep better.
4. Given that 5-HTP may interact with several medications, talk to your doctor to ensure it’s safe for you to use.
Helps with Depression and Anxiety
The effects of 5-HTP on symptoms of depression have been well studied.
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.
In managing symptoms of anxiety, 5-HTP can help to relax the mind and prepare the body for sleep.
Research also suggests 5-HTP may support the reduction of low mood and, but more studies are needed into this area. While the exact causes of depression remain largely unknown, some experts believe a serotonin imbalance is a contributing factor (3)
By increasing levels of serotonin, therefore, 5-HTP may help to improve the regulation of mood and promote better sleep health.
In fact, several studies have found that 5-HTP reduced symptoms of depression. Antidepressant effect was seen within 2 weeks of treatment and was apparent in all degrees of depression. The therapeutic efficacy of l-5-HTP was considered as equal to that of fluoxetine (4)
Helps with Sleep
5-HTP produces serotonin, which can be converted into the hormone melatonin.
Melatonin plays an important role in regulating sleep. Its levels begin to rise in the evening to promote sleep and fall in the morning to help wake you up.
Read more about Melatonin
in my journal post all about it.
Therefore, supplementing with 5-HTP may promote sleep by increasing melatonin production in your body.
Melatonin governs your body’s ‘sleep-wake’ cycle. Production of the hormone rises in the evening to help you get to sleep and drops in the morning to help wake your body up.
As part of the serotonin pathway which contributes to the increase in serotonin, 5-HTP aids the neuro-chemical process that encourages quality sleep and regulates your 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 time. A review of available treatments for poor sleep revealed that 5-HTP supported the reduction of sleep-walking, sleep terrors, and waking episodes.
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 (1)
GABA is a chemical messenger that promotes relaxation. Combining it with 5-HTP likely has a synergistic effect (2)
which is why it’s always best to look for a supplement which stacks both these nootropics together as in Happy Me.
For me, taking supplements isn’t necessarily about filling gaps, it’s about optimising your current and future health.
Where some see supplements, I see a happier future.
Giving your body and brain that little extra something that it needs so that you feel your best, be your best and live your best life is the power of supplements.
I wonder what you could if you had all the energy that you need every day?
Health opens doors.
Health transforms lives.
The state of your brain today is a real indicator of how you will feel tomorrow.
Your brain is the control centre of your whole body.
Did you know that your brain controls your physical health as well as your mental health?
If you start taking care of your brain, you start taking care of your future health.
How you feel tomorrow, starts today.
Let’s start today.
How much 5-HTP should I take?
The recommended dose for 5-HTP depends on your reason for taking it.
Here are some general guidelines to get you started:
Mood enhancement: 50–100 mg, 3 times per day with meals. Use for at least one week to notice a benefit
Sleep aid: 100–300 mg, 30–45 minutes before bed. Stack with GABA to increase effectiveness.
1. Timing and Quality of Sleep https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19417589/
2. Sleep promoting benefits of GABA and 5HTP
3. What has serotonin to do with depression?
4 Study of 5-HTP with people with depression
5. The effects of tryptophan levels on mood
6. Tryptophan biochemistry