The author states that the use of the amino acid L-tryptophan as a
hypnotic might avoid the problems of nonspecificity in the currently used
CNS depressants because L-tryptophan is chosen on the basis of the
chemistry of normal sleep rather than on a purely empirical basis. He
reviews nine studies from his laboratory dealing with the effects of L-
tryptophan on sleep. Studies in rats, normal human subjects, and subjects
with mild insomnia all demonstrate that L-tryptophan reduces sleep latency.
Polygraphic studies demonstrate that L-tryptophan, unlike hypnotics, does
not produce distortions of sleep physiology when first administered, on
long-term administration, or after withdrawal.