After months of restless sleep, along with a host of other symptoms, I went for a hormone panel. Turns out, I’m going through menopause at age 42. I can handle lots of menopause symptoms, but lack of sleep isn’t one of them. The over the counter supplement 5-HTP has turned out to be a great solution.
What is 5-HTP?
5-HTP stands for 5-hydroxytryptophan. It’s an amino acid, often recommended for menopause symptoms, that is the precursor to serotonin and a trigger for melatonin.
What does 5-HTP do?
During menopause, it’s used as an anti-depressant, an appetite suppressant, and as a sleep aid. From my personal experience, I’d say when I’m getting more sleep, I’m generally happier, and less susceptible to the munchies. Since I started to take 5-HTP to help me during menopause, I haven’t experienced depression, or changes in my appetite.
How does 5-HTP work?
It’s easier to handle other symptoms of menopause when you’re getting enough sleep. 5-HTP helps you to get more sleep by increasing your brain’s level of serotonin, which calms you down and cues your nervous system to send you to sleep. It also increases melatonin, a sleep inducing hormone that your body normally kicks out in response to darkness or low light levels. Menopause throws off your body’s normal hormone regulation of serotonin and melatonin. 5-HTP can help ease you through the shifts that most women experience in menopause.
Since the FDA doesn’t regulate over the counter supplements like 5-HTP, so you’ll need to reply on recommendations for brands that work. Since starting menopause, I’ve tried several other natural sleep aids like melatonin, St Johns Wort, and kava kava with no relief, and I believe that part of the problem is that brands vary so widely in effective amounts of ingredients.
I use Natrol 100 mg capsules, which is labled Double Strength. One capsule at night seems to be enough, although if I think I really need a good night’s sleep, I’ll take 2 capsules to be sure I sleep through the night. When I occassionally run out, I notice that I sleep more fitfully, less deep. I feel like I get a more restful sleep when I take 5-HTP.
Cost for Natrol 5-HTP
$14.99 for 30 capsules, 100 mg. The 50mg capsules usually run $8.99 for 30 capsules.
The best deal
Walgreens runs buy one get one free specials on Natrol brand about every 4-6 weeks, making it even more affordable. Natrol occassionally offers use-it-now peel off coupons for $1, so keep your eye out for those. Although you can order online with Walgreens, they don’t offer any of their circular specials via the internet.