You may know that serotonin has a part in sleep, but did you know just how much of a role it plays for bodies?

seratoninSerotonin is known as the “feel good” hormone in the brain, and it’s this neurotransmitter that does so much for our body, including regulating our sleep, digestion, mental clarity, mood, and pain. We’re also able to tolerate inflammation and other pain symptoms because of serotonin raises our pain threshold.

Serotonin also regulates our sleep cycles and helps reduce anxiety and depression. As you might guess, because serotonin performs all of these functions, it’s a very important chemical for the brain. Unfortunately, millions of people have chronically low levels of serotonin.

Serotonin is often the culprit for individuals who find they have trouble falling asleep, then staying asleep. Please note that sleep issues don’t come with a “quick fix,” and it can take weeks or even months for your body to achieve normal sleeping patterns. It’s worth noting that once you begin, you’ll soon feel like your body is changing and adapting to a healthier routine for sleep.

Options For Increasing Your Serotonin Levels.

5-HTP is a supplement that’s actually tryptophan which then turns into serotonin, and best of all, it’s natural. There aren’t any major side effects, and the most common one is drowsiness due to high dosage levels. It has also been repeatedly demonstrated to be more effective with depression than prescription antidepressants. 5-HTP doesn’t need a transport molecule and can move right into the brain, nor does it have to compete with other amino acids to do so. 5-HTP is a plant-derived supplement, and is converted immediately into serotonin.

What’s one reason why your serotonin levels can be depleted? Stress! Stress is a big factor in the depletion of chemicals that help the body function, and this affects sleep, mood, and even causes other health conditions; for example, individuals with fibromyalgia and serotonin-derived depression aren’t able to convert their tryptophan into serotonin, and thus need additional help.

Using stimulants like caffeine, nicotine and sugar can help you with serotonin, but these stimulants pump out serotonin rapidly, leaving you with an inevitable “crash” later. You then might fall into the cycle of using these stimulants again, only to have the same result.

doc holding pillsIf you go to a doctor and complain about stress, sleep problems, depression and/or anxiety, or migraines, they would most likely prescribe you an SSRI such as Lexapro, Celexa, Zoloft, Paxil or Prozac. These prescriptions may appear to help you at first and you may feel “better,” but they often come with severe side effects, and don’t really “fix” your problem. They also don’t address your serotonin levels when it comes to restoration and replenishment.  They are like a gas additive.  You have an empty gas tank (low to no serotonin) adding an additive doesn’t make the car work any better… you still have an empty gas tank.  If you examine a study of the effectiveness of SSRI antidepressants, you could see that 19% to 70% of individuals would do just as well taking as a placebo!

When it comes to serotonin levels, it’s always good to consider taking 5-HTP, and I recommend it to my migraine patients all the time.
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