In part one of this post I spoke about different techniques to help you fall asleep and sleep more soundly through the night. This included making changes that create a better sleep environment. Secondly, I discussed different actions or things you can do to further help improve sleep. If you missed it you can check it out HERE. In part 2 I will be discussing different natural supplements that will help you fall asleep and stay asleep without drug like hangovers, dangerous side effects or developing an over reliance to sleeping pills. Just a quick caveat. Insomnia can be a serious issue that may require help from a doctor and/or sleep specialist. This information is not meant to take the place of medical advice or supervision. Lastly, always start with the lowest recommended dosage and adjust upwards.
ZMA is a patented formula containing magnesium, zinc and vitamin B6. This is one of my favorites and the one I recommend most people try first. Why? Because the majority of the population is magnesium and zinc deficient. That alone is enough reason to take this product. Keeping these minerals and trace elements at proper levels in the body can also improve immune function, hormone balance and recovery from exercise. One of the best qualities of this supplement is that it helps you sleep. Not only fall asleep but fall back asleep if you wake up.
Dosage: Follow the directions on the bottle and you will more then likely be sleeping much better the first night you take it. Be aware though that this supplement can cause some very vivid dreams. Kinda like watching a movie while your sleeping. =-)
Melatonin or “the sleep” hormone, regulates your circadian rhythm. Melatonin levels normally increase toward nightfall, making you sleepy, and then decrease toward morning. To reset your body clock, start with a low dose. Melatonin is also beneficial for readjusting if you have been traveling through time zones.
Be aware: Don’t drive after taking melatonin, and don’t combine it with alcohol or other sedatives.
L-Theanine and 5 HTP Stack
L-Theanine is an amino acid that is naturally found in green tea. It has a relaxing and anti-anxiety effect on the mind. And as you and I both know, stress causes a lot of sleepless nights! Green tea itself is not a natural remedy for insomnia because you will not get a high enough dose and tea contains caffeine.
Dosage: 200-400mgs. 1/2 hour to hour before going to bed
5-HTP is a neurotransmitter precursor to serotonin. In our bodies, serotonin gets converted into melatonin (the sleep hormone). In a study compiled by the University of Maryland Medical Center, people who took 5-HTP went to sleep quicker and slept more deeply than those who took a placebo. From my experience 5-htp works best when combined with L-theanine and even melatonin. Try it without melatonin first and if it does not work well add melatonin to the stack.
Dosage: 200 to 400 milligrams at night to stimulate serotonin, but it may take 6 to 12 weeks to be fully effective.
Glycine is an amino acid that the body produces naturally. In the nervous system, glycine acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter; this means when it reaches neurons, it calms them so they don’t “fire” with as much electrical activity. Glycine is also believed to lower core body temperature and to relax blood vessels at night; key factors for sleep onset and sleep quality. Glycine has been shown to help you wake up feeling refreshed and alert unlike may sleep aids out there.
Dosage: 3-5 grams. Start with 3 grams.
Dosage: used in studies range between 400 mg and 900 mg, taken anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours before bed.
Be advised, that herbs can affect different people in different ways. In studies 1 in 10 people actually tend to feel the opposite by Valerian root, which will keep you up all night. Higher dosages can also have this reverse effect, so always start with the lowest dose needed to achieve the desired effect.
Having imbalanced “Gut Bacteria” can also cause difficulty or poor sleep. The reason is that your beneficial bacteria produce and regulate hormones and neurotransmitters that can keep you feeling calm and relaxed. Namely serotonin and since approximately 90% of your body’s serotonin is produced in the gut you want your gut healthy. These “good” bacteria also help to lower cortisol (your stress hormone) and produce GABA a calming amino acid that helps you relax and shut your brain down from over thinking. So as you can see, having your bacteria in balance is crucial to not only your health but mood and the ability to sleep.
Dosage: Varies by brand. Follow the directions on the bottle. It is important to use high quality products that allow the good bacteria to pass through the stomach and small intestine to actual make it to the large intestine to work their magic. The two pictured above are two of my favorites.
So there you have it 7 supplements to help you fall asleep and sleep more soundly. So which ones should you take? That depends. In general I would start with ZMA for reasons mentioned above. Also, if you have digestive issues or have taken a lot of antibiotics over the years then take the probiotics as well.
If you have a lot of anxiety or feel symptoms of depression the l-theanine and 5htp stack. Valerian and glycine work great great as well.
Melatonin can be combined with most of the supplements above or is great for traveling across time zones when sleep can become difficult.
Most importantly is to find out what works for you. Everyone is different and reacts differently so start with one at the lowest dose and see how it goes.
One last caveat. Beware of cheap supplements. You can shop around but beware that many supplement brands use cheap ingredients, the wrong version of the substance or are under dosed or loaded with fillers. All of the products listed above are high quality and you can order them by clicking on the pictures.
May you fall asleep faster, sleep deeper and wake up more refreshed!
To you health.