L-Tryptophan vs Melatonin: An Honest Comparison For Sleep, Side Effects & More!

A young brunette woman sleeping in white bed,

Last Updated on December 13, 2022 by theworldofsleepstaff

L-Tryptophan and Melatonin are two popular supplements used for promoting sleep. Both have differences and similarities in helping aid sleep, but as an added bonus they are also thought to be beneficial in aiding overall health as well.

However, the actual efficacy of each supplement depends on each individual’s body chemistry, so it’s essential to speak with your doctor before deciding which one is best for you.

But in general, L-Tryptophan is effective in helping people sleep better as it increases serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in regulating mood and sleep. Melatonin can also help improve sleep, but its effects tend to be more potent than L-Tryptophan. Instead it helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle and effectively treats insomnia.

But that’s just scratching the surface when it comes to how these two supplements differ from each other when it comes to sleep.

Luckily this article will discuss in detail the similarities and differences between L-Tryptophan and Melatonin regarding their effects on sleep. All so you can make an informed decision based on your needs.

Note: This content was only written as a reference, using third-party background information. It is not medical advice; As always, it is essential to do your research and speak with a healthcare provider if you have questions or before taking any new supplement.


  1. The Five Similarities For Sleep
  2. The Four Differences For Sleep
  3. Can I Take L-Tryptophan & Melatonin Together?
  4. L-Tryptophan vs Melatonin: The Side Effects
  5. Top Tips When Taking L-Tryptophan For Sleep
  6. Top Tips When Taking Melatonin For Sleep
Depressed man suffering from insomnia lying in bed

L-Tryptophan vs Melatonin: The fIVE Similarities For Sleep

1. Both Are Natural Substances

L-Tryptophan is an essential amino acid naturally found in foods such as milk, soybeans, and seafood. Whilst melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, which regulates sleep and wake cycles.

Both substances occur naturally in our bodies and can be taken as supplements to help support healthy sleep.

Taking either supplement helps stimulate a hormone naturally produced in the body which allows you to fall asleep more easily.

White bottle and pills, letters Melatonin, alarm clock and sleep mask on light grey background. Sleeping backdrop Concept melatonin, insomnia and good night. Top view

2. Both Can Help Improve Sleep Quality

L-Tryptophan and Melatonin have been shown to help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. This can be especially beneficial when dealing with insomnia or sleep disturbances.

In addition to helping you fall asleep, both substances can help improve the quality of your sleep by increasing REM (rapid eye movement) cycles and decreasing awakenings throughout the night.

Taking either supplement can improve your overall sleep health and make you feel more rested and energized in the morning.

Man sleeping with eye mask on
iStock.com/Antonio Diaz

3. Both Are Generally Safe & Non-Habit Forming

Both L-Tryptophan and Melatonin are generally safe for most people when taken as directed and under the supervision of a health professional.

They do not contain addictive or habit-forming substances, so you can take them without worrying about becoming dependent on them.

Generally, most people tolerate both supplements well. Still, speaking with your healthcare provider before taking either one if you have any severe medical conditions or take medications is essential.

A young brunette woman sleeping in white bed,

4. Both Are Available In Many Forms

L-Tryptophan and Melatonin come in various forms, including capsules, tablets, drops, sprays, and liquid shots. This makes it easy to find the type that works best for you and makes a difference.

For example, some people may find liquid or drops more accessible than capsules or tablets.

It is essential to read the label carefully when purchasing supplements, as some products may contain additional ingredients that may not suit you.

Cure For Insomnia And Depression. Selective focus on pills sprinkled from jar on table, stressed African American woman lying in bed in blurred background, cannot fall asleep

5. Both Can Be Taken Several Times A Day

L-Tryptophan and Melatonin can be taken several times a day if needed, depending on the type of supplement you are using and your individual needs.

Although generally speaking, taking either substance at bedtime or in the early evening is best to help support healthy sleep.

Speaking with your healthcare provider about your individual needs before taking either supplement is essential. They can guide the best dosage and timing for you.

Young woman resting on the couch at home, she is wearing wireless headphones and listening to music

L-Tryptophan vs Melatonin: The Four Differences For Sleep

1. Source

L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid found in foods like fish, meat, eggs and dairy. Therefore, it can also be taken as a dietary supplement or just by eating more trytophan-rich foods.

On the other hand, Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in some animals and humans and so most often is produced synthetically.

Tryptophan rich foods. Natural sources of tryptophan are chicken fillet, cottage cheese, germinated wheat grains. Cardboard sign with the inscription.
iStock.com/Tetiana Kreminska

2. Effects On Sleep

L-tryptophan is effective in helping people sleep better. This is because it increases serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in regulating mood and sleep.

Melatonin can also help improve sleep, but its effects are more potent than l-tryptophan. It helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle and effectively treats insomnia.

woman sleeping on her side

3. Safety & Side Effects

Both l-tryptophan and melatonin are generally considered safe for most people. However, there can be different side effects from taking either supplement (we’ll show you those later), so it’s important to talk to your doctor before beginning a supplement regimen.

4. Cost

L-tryptophan is usually more affordable than melatonin. This is because it’s typically sold in larger quantities, making it easier to find a cost-effective supplement.

Conversely, melatonin supplements can be more expensive since they’re often sold in smaller packages.

When it comes to improving sleep quality, l-tryptophan and melatonin can be effective natural remedies. However, understanding their differences can help you make an informed decision on which is right for you. Be sure to talk to your doctor before beginning a supplement regimen to ensure it’s safe for you. With the proper dosage and use, l-tryptophan or melatonin can help you get a better night’s sleep.

White bottle and pills, letters Melatonin, alarm clock and sleep mask on light grey background. Sleeping backdrop Concept melatonin, insomnia and good night.

Can I take L-Tryptophan & Melatonin Together?

The answer to this question is: it depends. L-tryptophan and melatonin are both popular supplements used for improving sleep quality. However, there are some potential risks associated with taking them together.

Both supplements can help you achieve a better night’s rest when taken alone.

But if you take l-tryptophan and melatonin together, there are some potential risks. Taking too much Melatonin can cause side effects such as headaches and dizziness. Also, it may interact with certain medications, so talk to your doctor before taking either of these supplements. Taking l-tryptophan with other supplements can also cause side effects.

When deciding whether or not to take l-tryptophan vs melatonin together, it’s essential to consider the potential benefits and risks. Talk to your doctor about what might suit you, and always follow their instructions when taking any supplement. With the correct dosage and guidance, these supplements can help improve your restful sleep time.

Woman sleeping in her bed at night, she is lying on her stomach

L-tryptophan vs Melatonin: The Side Effects


The known potential side effects:


This is a mild and rare side effect of taking l-tryptophan. Some users have reported experiencing headaches after consuming this supplement, but they can be alleviated by drinking plenty of water and reducing the dosage.


Nausea and an upset stomach is other potential side effect associated with l-tryptophan, although this is unlikely. It can be caused by taking too much of the supplement or having an intolerance.

Allergic Reaction

Allergic reactions are an infrequent side effect, but if you experience difficulty breathing, hives or a rash, seek medical attention immediately.

Detox Reaction

Some people may experience a detox reaction when first taking l-tryptophan. This can manifest as fatigue, mood swings, headaches or body aches, but this is usually due to the body’s natural processes of removing toxins from within.

Woman with headache


The known potential side effects:


It is common for people to experience a mild headache when taking melatonin. This side effect can be reduced by taking smaller doses of the supplement.


Some users may also feel a bit dizzy after taking melatonin, which an increase in blood pressure or a decrease in heart rate could cause. To reduce this side effect, users should start with a lower dose and increase it slowly over time.


Nausea is another possible side effect of taking melatonin supplements. This can be reduced by starting with a smaller dosage and increasing it gradually to achieve the desired result.

Medical Interactions

In addition to possible side effects, people should also be aware that melatonin can interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners and antidepressants. Therefore, it is essential to consult a doctor before taking melatonin and other supplements.

Finally, since melatonin is considered a hormone, it is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Consult with your healthcare provider before taking Melatonin if you are in these stages of life.

Shot of a woman doctor having a consultation with a patient

Top Tips When Taking L-Tryptophan For Sleep

1. Consider Timing

L-tryptophan can take some time to be effective and should generally be taken an hour or two before bedtime.

Most people say it works best when taken on an empty stomach, so it is worth avoiding food too close to the time of taking it.

2. Take In Moderate Amounts

It is essential not to take too much l-tryptophan at once as this could lead to uncomfortable side effects such as headaches and nausea. Instead, start with a low dosage and gradually increase it over time as needed.

3. Increase Exercise During the Day

Exercise helps to regulate hormones, including melatonin and serotonin which are crucial for sleep. Increased physical activity during the day can boost natural levels and make it easier to get to sleep at night, so incorporate more exercise into your daily routine.

4. Reduce Stimulants Before Bedtime

Caffeine, alcohol and other stimulants can interfere with the body’s natural sleep cycle, so it is best to avoid them in the few hours before bedtime. Likewise, if you are taking l-tryptophan for sleep, these substances should be avoided as they can decrease the supplement’s effectiveness.

5. Be Patient

It may take some time for l-tryptophan to be effective, so it is essential to have patience and stick with your routine. It might not help you fall asleep immediately, but regular use over some time can help improve sleep quality and duration.

With these tips in mind, l-tryptophan can be an effective supplement to help you get a good night’s sleep. However, remember to take it at the right time and dosage for the best results. So keep trying this supplement if it doesn’t work at first – it might take some time to get used to it.


Top Tips When Taking Melatonin For Sleep

1. Start With A Low Dose

When taking melatonin for sleep, start with the lowest possible dose that may still be effective. This is typically taken 30 minutes before bedtime.

2. Only Take What Is Recommended On The Label

Some people experience grogginess and other side effects when they take more than the recommended dose, so it’s essential to stick to what is suggested on the label.

3. Don’t Take Melatonin For Too Long Without Talking To Your Doctor First

If you find that taking melatonin helps you get better sleep, it can be tempting to take it daily. However, long-term use of melatonin should be done in consultation with a healthcare professional.

4. Consider Trying L-tryptophan Instead

L-tryptophan is an amino acid that can help promote relaxation and sleepiness naturally. Taking it around 30 minutes before bedtime can help improve sleep quality.

5. Try Different Doses Or Formulations To Find What Works Best For You

Melatonin is available in various formulations and strengths, so it may be helpful to experiment with different types to determine which works best for you. Similarly, depending on your individual needs, the dose may need to be adjusted up or down.

Ultimately, using Melatonin for sleep can be a helpful solution for those who have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at night. Following the tips above, you can ensure you get the most out of your supplementation and safely improve your sleep. Additionally, considering alternatives like l-tryptophan may help you find the best sleep solution.

Melatonin, the word is laid out on a blue background of tablets. Tablets, hormone and excipients to improve sleep.
iStock.com/Dmitriy Galaganov

l-tryptophan vs Melatonin: fINAL tHOUGHTS

In conclusion, when it comes to sleep, both L-tryptophan and Melatonin have the potential to help people achieve a more restful night’s sleep.

While l-tryptophan is a naturally occurring chemical in the body that helps induce relaxation and promotes better sleep quality, Melatonin is a hormone manufactured in the pineal gland that helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle. Both can be effective for helping people who have difficulty sleeping, but each has its risks and side effects.

For those looking to improve their sleep quality, it is essential to consult a doctor before taking any supplement or medication.