What is 5-HTP?
5-Hydroxytryptophan 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. Your body uses 5-HTP to produce serotonin, a chemical messenger that sends signals between nerve cells.
Low serotonin levels have been associated with a number of health problems, including everything from obesity due to heightened food cravings to depression (for this reason, it is sometimes called the happy chemical). If your serotonin levels aren’t in balance, it can have a mental, physical and emotional toll on your wellbeing.
Serotonin can also be converted into a hormone which 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. Regular sleep-wake cycles are the foundation for rejuvenating and restful sleep.
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.