The happiness hormone serotonin

Serotonin is known for its positive effects on mood and sleep. But what role does the happiness hormone really play for our psyche and health? You can find out everything you need to know about the “happier” serotonin and how it decisively influences mood and sleep here.

Table of Contents

  1. What is serotonin?
  2. This is how serotonin is produced
  3. Function & Effects of Serotonin
    1. Serotonin & mood
    2. Serotonin & Sleep
    3. What happens when there is a lack of serotonin?
  4. Serotonin as a dietary supplement?
  5. Serotonin - good mood and restful sleep
  6. Conclusion

1. What is serotonin?

Serotonin, also known as 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HAT), is one of the six messenger substances in the human organism known as happiness hormones. In addition to its famous effect on mood, the body's own hormone is also involved in other important bodily functions. It functions as a messenger in the central nervous system, has a decisive influence on our mental state, controls sleep-wake behavior and regulates important processes in the cardiovascular and gastrointestinal systems. The hormone is therefore partly responsible for a good mood during the day and a healthy sleep at night.

A lack of serotonin, on the other hand, can damage health in the long term and promote the development of negative moods up to and including depression and sleep disorders. But how does the happiness hormone serotonin and its significant effect on mood and sleep come about?

2. This is how serotonin

is produced
Synthese von L-Tryptophan zu Serotonin zu Melatonin

Serotonin can be produced by our body itself and is found in our brain and central nervous system, as well as in the cardiovascular system, the gastrointestinal system and in our blood. The most important building block is the essential amino acid L-tryptophan, which is ingested through food, among other things, and is converted to serotonin, particularly under the influence of daylight. Regular exercise, plenty of time in the fresh air, and a balanced diet rich in vitamins can boost production and help maintain healthy serotonin levels.

Did you know that? Because of the lack of daylight, the body produces less serotonin, especially in the cold season, which is also converted more quickly into melatonin due to the darkness. This leads to increased fatigue and the famous autumn or winter blues.

3. Function and action of serotonin

Serotonin is involved in numerous metabolic processes and regulatory functions in our body. In the brain, it primarily influences emotional perception, the central reward system and mood, but as a precursor to the sleep hormone melatonin it is also involved in regulating sleep behavior and body temperature. And serotonin is also urgently needed in the intestinal system to control digestion and appetite.

Serotonin & mood

Our body produces various happy hormones, such as serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline or the well-known endorphins. While dopamine or norepinephrine tend to have a stimulating and stimulating effect on the mind and thus ensure motivation and a good mood, serotonin is more calming and relaxing. It has a mood-enhancing, motivation-enhancing and pain-relieving effect and is also able to dampen the body's stress reaction in the central nervous system. In this way, a normal serotonin level contributes to a relaxed and positive mood and helps to keep the psyche in positive balance.

Junger Mann erwacht ausgeschlafen, erholt und glücklich im Bett

Serotonin & Sleep

Serotonin is produced from the amino acid L-tryptophan and is at the same time the precursor of the melatonin known as the sleep hormone. Under the influence of daylight, serotonin is converted to melatonin as darkness increases and thus makes a decisive contribution to healthy sleep-wake behaviour. However, serotonin itself also has a direct impact on sleep and sleep quality.

Night after night we go through several sleep cycles, which are divided into different sleep phases. The transition from one phase to the next and from one cycle to another is controlled, among other things, by serotonin. It regulates falling asleep easily and strengthens the sleep cycles with each other so that we slide into the next sleep cycle at night without waking up and sleep undisturbed. So serotonin helps us fall asleep easily and wake up well rested in the morning. Because maintaining the natural sleep structure is an important prerequisite for restful sleep and a fit, positive feeling the next day.

What happens when there is a serotonin deficiency?

A serotonin deficiency usually means a low serotonin level in the brain, which can have serious negative consequences for the psyche. A lack of serotonin is associated, among other things, with the development of depression and depressive moods; there is an increase in tiredness and feelings of exhaustion, irritability, aggressiveness, nervousness or tension. Impaired sleep can also exacerbate these symptoms because the necessary regeneration does not take place.

On a physical level, a lower serotonin level causes, among other things, changes in appetite and eating behavior as well as sexual desire or the general perception of pain. The happiness hormone is therefore not only essential for mental health, but also for physical health.

4. Serotonin as a dietary supplement?

Only approx. 5% of the serotonin in our body is in the brain and despite its importance, serotonin is unable to cross what is known as the blood-brain barrier. This means that our brain does not absorb any supplied serotonin, but has to produce the messenger substance "on site" itself and additional intake, for example via a dietary supplement, has no effect.

In order to increase the serotonin level, however, it can help to provide the body with all the building blocks required for production in sufficient quantities. The serotonin precursor L-tryptophan is found in numerous foods and can boost important hormone production, especially in combination with other nutrients such as vitamin B, magnesium or zinc. Vitamin D and the already healthy omega-3 fatty acids are said to be able to positively influence serotonin levels. In addition to a balanced diet rich in vitamins, a high-quality dietary supplement with L-tryptophan can also help to maintain a healthy serotonin level and thus create the best conditions for an all-round healthy organism, a good mood during the day and a restful sleep at night.

You can find out more about L-tryptophan and other amino acids in this article.

5. Serotonin – Good mood and restful sleep

Junge fröhliche Frau sitzt am Morgen gut gelaunt im Bett

Behind the "happiness hormone" serotonin there is more than just a mood booster and it is one of many important factors for staying happy and balanced in the long term, but also healthy and efficient - and for sleeping well. Because especially when the sleep-promoting function of the messenger substance is absent, restful nights quickly become a challenge and also hit the mood.

So try not to neglect your serotonin levels so that you can sleep well and start the day healthy and happy!

6. Conclusion

  • Serotonin is an important messenger substance and plays an important role for the psyche, sleep, the cardiovascular and intestinal systems.
  • As a happiness hormone, serotonin has a relaxing, mood-enhancing and balancing effect and can reduce the feeling of stress.
  • Serotonin regulates a healthy sleep structure and has a positive effect on falling asleep and staying asleep at night.
  • In order to actively increase the serotonin level, food supplements with L-tryptophan, sufficient daylight, physical activity and an overall vitamin-rich diet are suitable.

Greetings and see you soon!

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