May 10, 2022 8 min read

Healthy sleep patterns are crucial to our health, so it’s concerning to find that up to 48% of adults may suffer from insomnia at some point in their life. An estimated 10-30% of adults will suffer from chronic insomnia, which means they experience sleep disruptions for several weeks, months, or even years at a time.

Commonly, people turn to prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids to combat sleep disorders, but many come with unwanted side effects. In fact, daytime grogginess is sometimes said to be worse after using sleep aids to combat sleep disorders.

This predicament leaves many people searching for a natural sleep remedy with fewer side effects, hence why the potential benefits of 5-HTP for sleep are becoming more well known. 5-HTP is thought to have a positive impact on serotonin and melatonin levels, so it may naturally help remedy sleep disruptions and improve sleep quality without the same level of “sedation” experienced with common sleep aids.

If you’re one of many Americans experiencing sleep disruptions, you may be eager to try anything to help you rest better at night. Before you can dive into a 5-HTP dosing routine, though, you should know a bit about how 5-HTP may impact sleep and exactly how to use 5-HTP for better sleep. Let’s start with the basics: 

Table of Contents
What is 5-HTP?
Can 5-HTP Help Sleep?
How to Use 5-HTP for Sleep?
Side Effects of Using 5-HTP for Sleep
Which 5-HTP is Best for Sleep
Frequently Asked Questions
Resources

Key Takeaways

  • 5-HTP plays an important role in neurochemical processes, and may have a positive impact on melatonin production.
  • Some evidence suggests that 5-HTP can also promote relaxation and reduce stress-induced sleeplessness.
  • Be sure to choose a high-quality supplement and start at the low end of the recommended dosing threshold when you try 5-HTP for the first time.
  • Talk to your doctor before using 5-HTP for sleep if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, at high risk for blood clots or osteoporosis, or take antidepressants or pain medications.

What is 5-HTP?

5-HTP is a chemical byproduct of L-tryptophan, an essential amino acid used in most neurochemical processes. Although research on 5-HTP’s benefits is limited, many people claim to use it successfully to manage anxiety, insomnia, mood imbalances, and more.

5-HTP works in the brain and central nervous system and is converted to serotonin by the body. Serotonin can affect sleep, appetite, temperature, sexual arousal, pain signaling, and more, which is why 5-HTP has often been linked to such a wide variety of benefits. Let’s take a look at the potential benefits of 5-HTP:

5-HTP Benefits

Human research on 5-HTPis still limited, but there are many areas of interest where researchers believe 5-HTP may be useful. Keep in mind that 5-HTP is regulated as a supplement in the US and is not intended to treat any specific conditions, but some of the potential benefits may include:

  • Improving sleep and managing sleep disorders
  • Supporting weight loss efforts
  • Improving symptoms of depression
  • Reduce fibromyalgia symptoms
  • Prevent and reduce migraines

Read “5-HTP Benefits” to learn more.

In general, most of these benefits related to conditions caused by low serotonin levels, and the going theory is that 5-HTP may help by regulating serotonin production in the body. How does that relate to 5-HTP’s potential benefits for sleep?

Here’s what we know:

Can 5-HTP Help Sleep?

As we mentioned, 5-HTP may help to regulate and increase serotonin production in the body. Serotonin can be converted by the body into melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate sleep-wake cycles. 

A woman waking well rested after using 5-HTP for sleep

Evidence suggests that this may mean that 5-HTP supplementation can help improve sleep and combat conditions characterized by low melatonin levels, like insomnia. One study found that 5-HTP combined with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) decreased the amount of time it took for participants to fall asleep. The combination also improved sleep duration and quality compared to the placebo.

Another study looked at the benefits of 5-HTP for children experiencing sleep terrors. In this study, children were administered L-5-HTP nightly, and 93.5% of subjects experienced a positive response after 30 days.

Furthermore, 5-HTP has been shown in scientific studies to potentially promote relaxation and alleviate anxiety, which can both lead to better sleep quality at night. Anxiety is one primary cause of sleeplessness, which means 5-HTP could help target sleep issues from multiple angles.

Typically, 5-HTP is used in combination with other supplements or herbal adaptogens to help regulate sleep wake cycles. For instance, many people take 5-HTP with GABA and Ashwagandha for a full-coverage, sleep-supporting wellness regimen.

How to Use 5-HTP for Sleep

Using 5-HTP for sleep is typically straightforward, although there are a few unique factors to consider, like how much 5-HTP you need, whether it interacts with your current wellness routine, and whether you should take 5-HTP once or multiple times a day. Here’s what you need to know:

Forms of 5-HTP

You will most often find 5-HTP in capsule or tablet form, although wellness supplements containing 5-HTP in powder form are becoming more popular. You may also find tinctures and other oral products containing 5-HTP that are designed to offer direct, fast-acting doses.

For dosing at night to manage sleep disorders, either a capsule or powder will do. Many people prefer a multifunctional blend, such as a powder or tincture containing 5-HTP.

The most important factor is the quality of your 5-HTP dose. It’s important to note that supplements are not regulated in the same way as medications are in the U.S., so it’s important that you carefully consider the quality of the 5-HTP supplements you choose.

Ensure that the 5-HTP supplements you buy comes from a trustworthy manufacturer, specifically that uses a third-party testing process to ensure quality. You may also look for a company that is experienced with wellness supplements and uses a cGMP compliant manufacturing facility.

When to Take 5-HTP for Sleep

There are many different methods for taking 5-HTP, and some people find that multiple daily doses work best in providing the systemic response their body requires. You may choose to take your total 5-HTP dose and break it into 2 or 3 doses throughout the day. In this case, you may choose to take 5-HTP with meals.

Others prefer to take a one-off dose around 30 minutes before best in order to reap the most sleep-enhancing benefits. The most important thing is to take 5-HTP daily since it may take up to two weeks to regulate within the body and provide optimal benefits.

How Much 5-HTP Per Day for Sleep

Because 5-HTP is classified as a supplement in the U.S., there are no standardized dosing suggestions available. However, adults have taken doses ranging from 150-800 mg daily in various studies.

The dosing range for 5-HTP varies greatly, both in studies and anecdotal reports. Doses larger than 6 grams (6,000 mg) have been associated with serious side effects and should be avoided. Talk to your doctor to configure the best 5-HTP dosing routine for you, or read “5-HTP Dosage” for more information.

5-HTP capsules laid to decoratively spell out "zzz" near an alarm clock

Side Effects of Using 5-HTP for Sleep

5-HTP is thought to be safe for most adults when used responsibly, but there are some potential risks to be aware of. First, 5-HTP may not be safe for all people. Talk to your doctor before using 5-HTP, especially if:

  • You have or are at a higher risk for osteoporosis
  • You are breastfeeding or pregnant
  • You currently take antidepressants, migraine medications, or certain pain medications
  • You’re at a high risk for blood clots
  • You have high blood pressure

Even outside of these situations, 5-HTP could be linked to some mild side effects, including:

  • Heartburn
  • Gas
  • Upset stomach
  • Mood changes
  • Appetite changes

Some more rare, but serious side effects include:

  • Increased risk of blood clots for some people
  • Increased risk of osteoporosis caused by too high levels of serotonin
  • Eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS): A very rare but serious condition that results in elevated white blood cell levels. Symptoms include muscle pain, weakness, rashes, fatigue, or breathing difficulties.
  • Overdose: Higher doses of 5-HTP (6 grams or more) may cause serious side effects like organ failure.
  • Allergic reaction: It’s possible to be allergic to 5-HTP, although it is rare. If you experience hives, anaphylaxis, or another allergic reaction after taking 5-HTP, seek emergency medical services.
  • Serotonin Syndrome:A condition characterized by high levels of serotonin in the brain. Symptoms include confusion, anxiety, shivering, diarrhea, and sweating. This is more likely to happen when 5-HTP is taken with other serotonin-enhancing substances, like certain antidepressants or St. John’s Wort.

Which 5-HTP is Best for Sleep

There are many different 5-HTP forms and formulas available, but the quality of different supplements varies greatly. If you're trying to combat complex sleep disruptions, however, we recommend a multifaceted approach. Many people combine 5-HTP with other natural adaptogens and herbal remedies to help improve sleep latency and quality.

Our Full Spectrum CBN + CBD Sleep Tincture contains 300 mg CBN + 700 mg CBD per bottle, alongside a proprietary infusion of 5-HTP and Ashwagandha. This formula is designed to offer a powerful synergistic effect, sometimes known as “the ensemble effect,” to help optimize sleep cycles. According to anecdotal reports, this system-regulating combination of adaptogenic herbs and hemp-derived cannabinoids may help improve sleep quality over time.

To learn more about how this formula works to improve sleep, you may want to read:

5-HTP for Sleep Frequently Asked Questions

When should I take 5-HTP for sleep?

Some people experience the greatest benefit when taking 5-HTP in 2 or 3 doses spaced evenly throughout the day. Others prefer to take 5-HTP for sleep about 30 minutes before bed.

Does 5-HTP make you sleepy?

5-HTP does not have sedative effects and should not have any overwhelming effects that cause drowsiness. Some evidence suggests that it may help the body regulate it’s natural hormone production to increase melatonin levels and improve sleep, but more research is needed to fully understand these effects.

Is it better to take 5-HTP or melatonin?

5-HTP may support natural melatonin production in the body, while long term melatonin supplementation may suppress natural melatonin productions. There are benefits and drawbacks to both methods, so talk to your doctor to determine what’s right for you.

Does 5-HTP help with anxiety?

5-HTP’s potential anxiolytic benefits have only been researched on a limited basis, but many people believe it to have a natural calming effect because of it’s potential ability to improve serotonin levels.

Is it OK to take 5-HTP everyday?

5-HTP works best when taken daily, although it should only be used for extended periods of time under a doctor’s guidance. Studies have found that 5-HTP is generally well tolerated when taken by mouth in doses of up to 400mg per day for up to one year.

How quickly does 5-HTP work?

5-HTP can quickly increase serotonin levels in the body. That means you may see any potential benefits for sleep immediately, but you may need to wait a week or more (of daily doses) to experience the potential benefits of 5-HTP for mood disorders or similar conditions.

Resources

  1. “Sleep Statistics” https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/sleep-facts-statistics
  2. “A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of an amino acid preparation on timing and quality of sleep” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19417589/
  3. “L -5-Hydroxytryptophan treatment of sleep terrors in children” https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00431-004-1444-7
  4. “Effect of a serotonin precursor and uptake inhibitor in anxiety disorders; a double-blind comparison of 5-hydroxytryptophan, clomipramine and placebo” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3312397/

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Optimize Your Life

Choline vs Alpha-GPC: Which is the Superior Cholinergic? - Vida Optima
Choline vs Alpha-GPC: Which is the Superior Cholinergic?

November 29, 2022 7 min read

There are many different types of choline supplements, but Alpha-GPC may just be superior.
Read More
L-Theanine vs L-Tyrosine: Comparing Benefits, Side Effects & More - Vida Optima
L-Theanine vs L-Tyrosine: Comparing Benefits, Side Effects & More

November 23, 2022 6 min read

L-tyrosine and L-theanine have very different effects, but they make the perfect pair.
Read More
What Does L-Theanine Do? - Vida Optima
What Does L-Theanine Do?

November 23, 2022 6 min read

Here's a quick run down on how L-theanine acts once it's inside your body:
Read More

Subscribe