Sleep loss is a common complaint in the UK, with more than one in three people struggling to get enough of it. Although the causes of sleep deprivation can be complex and wide-ranging, the unrelenting pace of modern living is often to blame. Luckily, you do not have to make drastic changes to your lifestyle to fix the problem, as even small changes to your lifestyle can aid sleep loss.
Numerous studies have shown that including certain supplements in your diet can promote a good night’s sleep, and one supplement in particular has been touted for its sleep-inducing benefits – tryptophan.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that is found in certain foods and supplements and its sleep-promoting benefits are attributed to the role it plays in creating a sleep-inducing hormone called melatonin.
As the National Sleep Foundation explains, your body uses tryptophan and turns it into a B vitamin called niacin.
Niacin plays a key role in creating serotonin, a neurotransmitter that’s associated with sleep and melatonin levels.
Studies have also shown that taking melatonin as a supplement can improve sleep quantity and quality.
In addition to supplements, tryptophan is found in foods such as turkey, chicken, meat, cheese, yogurt, eggs, and fish.
For optimal sleep benefits, the National Sleep Foundation recommends eating a high-carb snack because this will kickstart the tryptophan stores in your body, promoting sleep.
As the health body explains, eating tryptophan doesn’t immediately impact serotonin levels – tryptophan is just one of many different amino acids that are contained in foods like turkey and all of those amino acids compete to get transported to the brain.
Carbohydrates, however, allows tryptophan to easily enter the brain and carbohydrates cause your body to release insulin, which removes all amino acids except tryptophan from your blood.
“That means that tryptophan has no competition and can enter the brain easily, boosting serotonin levels,” explained the health site.
Other self-help tips
Keeping regular sleeping hours can also help to aid sleep loss because it programmes the brain and internal body clock to get used to a set routine, explains the NHS.
Most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep every night, and by working out what time you need to wake up, you can set a regular bedtime schedule, says the health body.
It is also important to try and wake up at the same time every day. “While it may seem like a good idea to try to catch up on sleep after a bad night, doing so on a regular basis can also disrupt your sleep routine,” warned the health site.
In addition, you should also create a sleep-friendly bedroom environment to help you unwind.
This means shunning external distractions such as TVs and other electronic gadgets, light, noise, and a bad mattress or bed.
The NHS added: “Keep your bedroom just for sleep and sex (or masturbation). Unlike most vigorous physical activity, sex makes us sleepy. This has evolved in humans over thousands of years.”