How to Increase Serotonin Levels
Here are a few tips on how to increase serotonin levels without resorting to prescription medication.
Exercise has three key properties that help increase serotonin levels:
- It reduces stress, which in turn means you deplete less serotonin.
- It actually increases the amount of serotonin released in your system. Scientists are unsure why this is the case, but the effects are well documented.
- It helps you sleep better which is when amino acids are converted into Serotonin stores within the central nervous system.
If exercise sounds like a lot of work, try sleeping more. When sleeping your body manufactures key neurotransmitters (including serotonin). Over time if you're not sleeping enough, you can start to experience symptoms of serotonin deficiency (which ironically, also includes insomnia).
If you need an alarm clock to wake up every morning, you're probably not getting enough sleep. So start going to bed earlier and earlier until you start to wake up on your own in the morning. Once you reach that point you'll notice
If you're having trouble getting to sleep? Here are a few tips:
- Don't watch TV in bed. Ideally, read in bed before going to sleep. The light and sound will stimulate you and keep you awake longer.
- Avoid caffeine. If you need your caffeine, then only take it in the morning. Ideally, cut out caffeine all together.
- Meditate. A few minutes of focused thought can help silence your internal mental loops.
- Avoid stressful activities in the evening. If you get wound up easily, it might be best to avoid checking your work email for an hour or so before bed.
- Avoid Alcohol before bed. Yes, it helps us you to sleep but it reduces the quality of your sleep.
Another effective alternative is to eat foods rich in certain amino acids that are precursors to Serotonin. If you don't have sufficient ingredients (aka precursors) you'll develop a serotonin deficiency.
If you're interested in pursuing a serotonin rich diet, take a look at our article on serotonin rich foods.
If altering your diet consistently isn't delivering consistent results, you might want to consider using supplements.
Amino Acids: L-Tryptophan, 5-HTP
Amino acids are relatively fast acting, and are about as close to a side-effect free option as you can get since they are naturally found in the foods we eat. Amino acid supplements should not be taken with anti-depressants as both impact serotonin levels within the central nervous system. We tend to see results in a few days when supplementing with amino-acids.
Herbs: St. John's Wort & SAM-e
As effective as Amino acid supplements though they tend to take effect a bit slower. Be sure to check for drug interactions when taking these herbal supplements as they can interact with a wide range of medicines. Herbal supplements tend to take a few weeks to take full effect.
Vitamins & Minerals: Vitamin B6, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Folic Acid, & Omega-3 fatty acids.
For many people taking a multi-vitamin along with an Omega-3 supplement delivers dramatic results. They are very safe and we tend to see results in a few weeks.
All of the options listed above have shown to be effective compared to placebos. Here at Serotune we favor a combination approach that includes amino acids, a multi-vitamin supplement, and an omega-3 supplement.