Substances your brain
requires to produce a good night's sleep
as Trp or W) is one of the 20 standard amino acids, as well as an essential
amino acid in the human diet. It is encoded in genetic code as the codon
organisms (including humans), tryptophan is an essential amino acid. This
means that it cannot be synthesized by the organism and therefore must
be part of its diet. Amino acids, including tryptophan, act as building
blocks in protein biosynthesis. In addition, tryptophan functions as a
biochemical precursor for the following compounds:
* Serotonin (a neurotransmitter),
synthesized via tryptophan hydroxylase.... Serotonin, in turn, can be converted
to melatonin (a neurohormone) ...
* Niacin 1
acid tryptophan is a safe, non-addicting sleeping aid which works because
it is made into serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter
which intitiates sleep." 2
is a neurotransmitter which has important inhibitory functions in the brain,
to prevent excess nervous stimulation at night so that sleep can occur.
It is also a growth hormone releaser. ...
be done about ... sleep problems? One way is to increase the amount
of serotonin in the brain by taking the essential amino acid tryptophan
(found in milk and bananas [and turkey meat] for example). That hot
cup of milk (nonfat is just as good) before bedtime really can help you
sleep. Tryptophan is a basic building block that the
body can convert to serotonin. Increasing serotonin levels usually
improves ease of falling asleep and may reduce the problem of waking up
in the night. Tryptophan is much more effective used as the pure
material taken on an empty stomach because amino acids in food compete
for transport into the brain. Two grams [2,000mg] of tryptophan taken
not before, bedtime is a typical adult dose. Both vitamins B-6 (100
milligrams) and C [1,000mg], [and the nutrients magnesium (200 milligrams)
and omega 3 fatty acids] are required for the conversion of tryptophan
to serotonin [all of which are nutrients commonly deficient in American
diets]. Excess serotonin can cause vascular headaches, nasal congestion,
or, more rarely, constipation [too little serotonin can cause migraine
headaches, insomnia, severe mental disturbances and bizarre, even violent,
affects many basic psychological functions such as anxiety mechanisms and
the regulation of mood, thoughts, aggression, appetite, sex drive and the
sleep/wake cycle. Multiple observations suggest that serotonin ...
plays an important role in the regulation of mood and a key role in the
treatment of depression.
"Due to this,
lack of serotonin is often associated with depression. Restoring the normal
or enhanced level of this neurotransmitter acts as mood enhancer. Prozac
is a mood enhancing drug, which acts in the central nervous system by inhibiting
the re-uptake mechanism of serotonin into the synapse. The synapse is a
junction where a signal is transmitted from one nerve cell to another.
Since serotonin is not degraded in the synaptic cleft, Prozac [as well
as other SSRIs or Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors] promotes a
prolonged presence of serotonin keeping the post-synaptic membrane active
[these are prescribed on either the assumption or the proof that a high
enough level of serotonin is already available in the patient's system.
If it's not it may prove to be counter-productive, exaggerating the symptoms
associated with low serotonin levels].
"In the central
nervous system, serotonin is involved in fear and 'flight' responses, an
activity which is opposed by the aggression or 'fight' stimulating hormone
adrenaline (epinephrine) and neurotransmitter dopamine. "
5-methoxy-N-acetyltryptamine, is a naturally occurring hormone found in
most animals, including humans, and some other living organisms, including
algae. Circulating levels vary in a daily cycle, and melatonin plays
a role in the regulation of the circadian rhythms of several biological
functions. Many biological effects of melatonin are produced through activation
of melatonin receptors, while others are due to its role as a pervasive
and powerful antioxidant with a particular role in the protection of nuclear
and mitochondrial DNA
"The use of
melatonin as a drug can entrain the circadian clock to environmental cycles
and can have beneficial effects for treatment of certain insomnias. Its
therapeutic potential may be limited by its short biological half-life,
poor bioavailability, and the fact that it has numerous non-specific actions.
containing melatonin have been available as a dietary supplement in the
United States since 1993, and met with good consumer acceptance and
animals and humans, melatonin is produced by pinealocytes in the pineal
gland (located in the brain) and also by the retina, lens and GI tract.
It is naturally synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan (via synthesis
of serotonin) by the enzyme 5-hydroxyindole-O-methyltransferase. ...
is also synthesized by various plants, such as rice, and ingested melatonin
has been shown to be capable of reaching and binding to melatonin binding
sites in the brains of mammals. ...
night, melatonin regulates leptin [and other energy factors], lowering
... is considered to be the ultimate route towards an uninterrupted sleep.
It also controls other vital bodily functions, including the metabolism
rate and ones sex drive. Perhaps most excitingly however, melatonin is
thought to hold the key to the door behind which the prospect of human
life extension lies. The idea of being able to extend the human lifespan
makes melatonin one of the most widely researched topics today. ...
is the hormone that helps to regulate sleep-wake cycles, and can be found
within all living creatures. Besides this key role, melatonin is thought
to have many other useful properties, and minimal side effects. As a result,
it is available as an over the counter drug, even though it is secreted
naturally within humans. While the natural form can be contaminated by
viruses, the synthetic product is often used to eliminate sleeping disorders
and to minimise the effects of jet lag. Older people may find it particularly
useful because as humans age, the amount of melatonin secreted in the body
decreases. This gives some explanation as to why young people find it easier
to sleep than older people." 6
2 Pearson and
Shaw, Life Extension: A Practical Scientific Approach, New York:
Warner Books, Inc., 1983, p.179
3 Pearson and
Shaw, Life Extension: A Practical Scientific Approach, New York:
Warner Books, Inc., 1983, p.192
4 Imperial College,
London: Department of Chemistry, http://www.ch.ic.ac.uk/wiki/index.php/It:Serotonin
6 Imperial College,
London: Department of Chemistry,