Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our life. Without sleep we can not function properly, can develop different diseases or health complications, and even die. Learning about how poor sleep can negatively affect our health is important. On the other hand, sometimes we need aid in the form of supplements to give us that extra edge. That is why this post will provide you with that edge, those 4 most beneficial supplements for better sleep quality.
We will go through what based on scientific evidence and anecdotal basis I believe are the best supplements for combating poor quality of sleep.
I really want to emphasize that this is not medical advice. You should always consult with your own doctor before taking any supplement.
The 4 supplements that you will be able to read about below are Melatonin, Magnesium (+ zink), L-Theanine, and CBD oil, alternately Ashwagandha.
Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced in our body. To be more specific melatonin is produced by the pineal gland as the lightning reduces, meaning darkness prompts its production.
Mostly known as a sleep hormone, it plays a big role in the body’s sleep-wake cycle. That is why we usually get sleepy in the evening and not during the day.
Melatonin helps regulate circadian rhythm, our 24-h internal clock.
A well-functioning circadian rhythm is essential as different body substances are and should be produced at certain times during the day.
If that rhythm is disturbed we would experience different health issues or more relatable trouble falling asleep. That is why melatonin is important, it synchronizes the sleep-wake cycle and circadian cycle.
In times when those cycles are disturbed supplementation with melatonin can be beneficial. For getting the most out of the supplement you should ensure that your environment and even behavior are optimal first.
- Having your bedroom slightly colder than the living room,
- Dimming the lights
- Not using your mobile devices 1-2 hours before bed time
- Not eating big meals right before the bed etc
Now altering your daily habits and environment is the first step towards getting a night of better quality sleep, but sometimes it’s not enough.
To have normal sleep and healthy life an optimal level of different minerals in our body is necessary.
One of them being magnesium. Magnesium is essential in promoting quality sleep. For us to fall asleep and stay asleep a relaxed body and mind are needed.
To promote relaxation magnesium functions by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, PNS. The parasympathetic nervous system is a part of the autonomic nervous system, ANS, which is referred to as the “rest and digest” system.
That system functions by releasing substances that promote relaxation. The hormone melatonin is also regulated by magnesium.
Glycine is an amino acid and is also used as a supplement for the improvement of sleep. As well it is used to treat different cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, it has anti-inflammatory and calming properties. Magnesium glycinate can help in reducing anxiety, stress, and insomnia.
L-Theanine is an amino acid that is not naturally occurring in our body. It affects certain brain chemicals that are actively involved in managing stress, mood, sleep, etc.
By inducing l-theanine in your diet the production of brain chemicals dopamine, serotonin, and the formation of GABA is enhanced. All those components play a major role in regulating stress and sleep. Being overly stressed causes imbalances in mental and physical health.
L-theanine balances out the chemical disturbances in our body and by that it promotes better sleep.
The improvement of serotonin levels by consumption of l-theanine correlates to increased levels of melatonin. That is possible because serotonin converts to melatonin in the pineal gland. Restful sleep is supported by increased levels of melatonin as we learned at the beginning of this post.
Quite a few studies have been done on the effects of l-theanine. Many of them showed that participants fell asleep faster, had less disturbance of sleep, and were in need of less additional supplementation. The same participants showed improved verbal fluency and mental clarity. ‘
Additional positive effects of l-theanine are visible on alpha brain wave activity. Alpha brain waves are associated with increased relaxation. It has been shown that the most stressed individuals have the most noticeable benefits from higher activity levels of alpha waves.
Ashwagandha is a natural herb with a long history of health use in Indian and African traditional medicine. This plant has been often associated with benefits combating chronic stress, both mental and physical.
As Ashwagandha has been shown to influence stress it has been directly correlated with improving sleep quality.
Ashwagandha has as well been shown to have positive influence on endocrine and nervous systems, lowers anxiety and has anti-inflammatory properties. It is important to mention that these effects need further scientific research.
When it comes to choosing which type of ashwagandha you should use I would recommend KSM-66. KSM-66 has a higher concentration of ashwagandha as it uses purely root extract, compared to the other types that combine both leaf and root extracts.
CBD, Honorable mention
This may be a controversial pick by many as hemp/ cannabis is a plant solely associated with causing a “high”.
The hemp plant has a component called Cannabidiol, CBD, that has no stimulating effects, meaning it won’t make you “high”. CBD has other more beneficial properties, most pronounced anti-inflammatory and anti-seizure.
Many suffering from lack of sleep report that CBD has improved their sleep by making it easier to fall asleep and feel rested upon awakening. Furthermore, positive effects are noticeable by decreased pain and anxiety.
Cannabidiol works by activating the endocannabinoid system which has a role in regulating different functions in our body. One of them is circadian rhythm.
One of the concerns that arise on a topic involving hemp is if the substance is addictive. The answer is no, CBD has no properties that have been shown to cause fixation to the substance of abuse.
Dosage for that is most effective is solely individual. That is why you should consult with your doctor about a proper treatment plan.