You're not alone if tryptophan immediately makes you think of the dreaded or delightful "food coma" that often follows a Thanksgiving meal. But, what you may not know is tryptophan is one of the eight essential amino acids -- which your body cannot make on its own -- that your body needs to thrive and survive. Many tasty sources beyond turkey offer the health benefits of tryptophan, including fruit, meat, grains, peanuts, dairy products, and chocolate.
You may know melatonin is often used as a sleep-inducing supplement. Tryptophan cuts out the middleman by producing melatonin in the pineal gland as well as in the stomach, retina, and the millions of immune cells coursing through the body. The longer it takes you to fall asleep, the healthier the sleep. The downside is that it takes longer to revive yourself upon waking; melatonin cobwebs take a bit longer to clear. However, many people with insomnia are happy with the trade-off if it means a healthy sleep.
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