· By Kaya Turner
The role of serotonin in our sleep
The role of serotonin in our sleep
Many people wear their lack of sleep as a badge of honour, competing with colleagues or partners over who has had the least amount of shut-eye. When I worked in bar jobs, staff were praised for putting in an early shift on 2 hours of sleep after finishing late the previous night - sleeping 6 hours would have been considered a luxury to my boss at the time! The problem with our culture is that sleeping is often seen as a sign of laziness, when in fact it is vital for the function of our bodies. Not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain, premature ageing, heart problems and high blood pressure. It can lead to significant mental impairment too, persistent sleep deficiency increases the risk of developing dementia at an earlier age. There is still so much for science to uncover about the nature of sleep. This blog post looks at the relationship between serotonin and sleep; how this multipurpose molecule, once considered a sleep inhibitor, actually plays an important role in regulating our sleeping patterns…
What is serotonin?
The body converts tryptophan (an amino acid found in high-protein foods) into the chemical 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), which is further converted into serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which acts as a hormone, carrying messages within the brain and central nervous system. It plays a vital role in several bodily functions, such as regulating temperature, maintaining a positive mood, and is a precursor for the sleep hormone melatonin.
Why is serotonin important for quality sleep?
There are two main things that control our sleep and make us tired - our circadian rhythm and sleep pressure. It is believed that producing serotonin throughout the day builds up our sleep pressure to make us tired by the evening. Serotonin is also one of the chemical building blocks for producing melatonin, the hormone responsible for controlling our circadian rhythm. Remarkably, serotonin performs roles in both of the key processes involved in sleep regulation.
What affects our serotonin levels?
Over time, sleep deprivation causes a gradual decline in serotonin levels. Many lifestyle factors can influence this, such as constant travelling, sudden changes in sleep schedules, drinking and taking recreational drugs. When we are stressed, depressed or anxious our serotonin levels are low which can lead to trouble sleeping. This creates a damaging cycle where firstly there is not enough serotonin to regulate sleep, then consequently not enough sleep to regulate serotonin; because the neurotransmitters that produce serotonin need to rest in order to function optimally.
How can I increase my serotonin levels?
There are a few different things you can try to improve serotonin levels. Increasing the amount of tryptophan-rich foods in your diet may help. As well as mindfulness practices such as yoga and mediation. But if you’re after something that will work effectively and pretty much straight away, it’s worth trying 5-HTP. Supplementing 5-HTP has been shown to help with the consequences of low serotonin levels, such as depression and insomnia.
Our premium Sleep gummies contain 500mg of 5-HTP per dose, considerably more than most other 5-HTP supplements on the market. Combined with other natural sleep promoting ingredients such as zinc, lemon balm and chamomile to promote a healthy, resorative sleeping pattern. You can also check out our specially tailored sleep bundles if you need a little extra help getting that all important shut eye: Sleep bundle 1 & Sleep bundle 2.