Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, sold as a supplement in its own right as it is a very effective sleep aid. Consumed in gram amounts before bed, tryptophan affects the neurotransmitter serotonin, which induces sleep.
Most protein foods don't contain very high amounts of tryptophan, but levels are relatively higher in carbohydrate rich foods. Milk is quite high, which is why the oldwives remedy for insomnia is a glass of milk at bedtime.
Tryptophan as a supplement became banned in the late 1980s in many countries, including the UK and USA, as it was found to cause a rare blood disease in genetically susceptible individuals. Amino acid complex preparations also have to limit the amounts of tryptophan they contain. A loophole in the law means that tryptophan can still be purchased as a supplement in health food stores, but it is labelled for use in animals only.
Insomniacs really do rate tryptophan as a sleep aid, so I guess there must be some merit in this. However, it is of no benefit to individuals who have no trouble sleeping at night, and does not induce a deeper sleep in the way GABA does. As a bodybuilding aid, it may be a helpful supplement if you struggle to get to sleep. Remember that quality sleep is imperative to bodybuilding, as this is the time when we grow and rest to re-energise ourselves for tomorrow's workout.
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