Tryptophan is Better than Melatonin for Sleep

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023



Here’s what you need to know about tryptophan vs. melatonin for sleep. 


0:00 Is melatonin good for sleep? 

0:28 Tryptophan vs. melatonin for sleep 

1:10 Tryptophan benefits 

1:23 Psychiatric medication and tryptophan 

2:18 Don’t make this mistake 

2:50 Can I get tryptophan from turkey? 

Tryptophan vs. melatonin for sleep, which is better? I believe tryptophan is better for sleep than melatonin. Let’s talk about why. 

When you take melatonin to help you sleep, you’re actually taking a hormone. Over a period of time, you could end up needing more and more of this hormone to create the same effect. 

Instead, you could try taking the precursor to melatonin called tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that turns into 5-HTP, which turns into serotonin, which then turns into melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that induces sleep, and it’s stimulated by darkness. 

Benefits of tryptophan:

• It has virtually no side-effects 

• It can act as a natural antidepressant 

• It has anxiolytic properties (anti-anxiety)

• It can promote sleep 

However, if you’re on any psychiatric medications, talk to your doctor before taking tryptophan. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you have too much serotonin. You also don’t want to come off of medication too quickly or add something else to the mix that could create an imbalance. 

When you take tryptophan, you always want to take it on an empty stomach. Tryptophan competes with other amino acids. Anytime you take tryptophan with another protein, it won’t work. 

Turkey doesn’t make people tired because of tryptophan. People get tired on Thanksgiving because they consume a lot of carbs with their turkey. Any time you combine carbs with protein, you’re going to spike insulin, and that will make you tired. 


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