What makes the world go round? Money, love, angular momentum – all reasonable answers, but we at Form regard our beauty sleep just as highly.
Over three-quarters of the UK population fails to reach the recommended eight hours a night, while one in three people are affected by insomnia according to the NHS. These shocking statistics around our collective lack of sleep have been widely circulated for years, and the repercussions are extensive. Research institute RAND estimates that lost sleep accounts for a £30 billion hit to the UK economy, while adults who sleep less than six hours a night have a 13 percent higher mortality risk.
Unfortunately getting our 40 winks isn’t as simple as just switching the light off. But, a deeper understanding of the chemicals that instigate sleep within us could make the process less painful. This is where 5-HTP comes in, or more precisely the resulting melatonin it induces.
What is 5-HTP?
But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. So let’s start by dissecting the first element in that equation. 5-Hydroxytryptophan better known as 5-HTP is a compound the body naturally produces, created as a by-product of the amino acid L-tryptophan. This essential amino acid is abundant in plant protein sources such as spinach, seeds, and nuts, so a balanced diet will naturally support some 5-HTP production.
As a supplement, 5-HTP is derived from the seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia, a shrub native to West Africa. This means it is completely natural; no lab-made chemicals necessary. Your body then uses 5-HTP to produce serotonin, a chemical messenger that sends signals between nerve cells.
Serotonin can also be converted into a hormone that plays an important role in regulating sleep: melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone naturally made by the pineal gland in the brain, which helps control daily sleep-wake cycles. Your internal clock (aka circadian rhythm) influences how much of the hormone you can naturally make, using exposure to light as a signal for the body to start producing melatonin and, essentially, herald in the night-time.
Because of this function of signalling darkness onset to the body, you may have heard melatonin referred to as the ‘hormone of darkness’. It’s secreted when natural light decreases in the evening, and hindered by exposure to unnatural light sources including blue light from the screens on your hand-held devices.
Because of its role in creating serotonin, 5-HTP is indirectly involved in producing melatonin. By creating ample stores of serotonin, 5-HTP can increase melatonin production when darkness signals to the body that the conversion is necessary, thus increasing the likelihood of regular sleep-wake cycles, the foundation for a rejuvenating and restful sleep.
Benefits Beyond Sleep
Low serotonin levels have been associated with a number of health problems, the most obvious one being depression. Serotonin is one of the four happy hormones, along with dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins.
In this quartet, serotonin is responsible for regulating your mood as well as your appetite, digestion, learning ability, and memory. And of course, the aforementioned sleep. In sum, if your serotonin levels aren’t in balance, it can have a mental, physical and emotional toll on your wellbeing.
Due to its role in supporting the natural production of neurotransmitters and hormones essential for sleep, a 100mg dosage of 5-HTP is a key ingredient in Form’s ZZZZs supplement.
ZZZZs also includes 105mg of magnesium, which has been shown to lead to deeper, better sleep while also maintaining levels of GABA, another neurotransmitter that promotes sleep. Also present is 10mg of zinc, an essential mineral which recent research has linked to healthy sleep quantity and quality.