In today's fast-paced world, getting quality sleep is more important than ever. I previously gave a few lifestyle tips in this answer on Reddit: Please help me get better sleep : HealthQuestions
In the current post I want to focus on dietary supplements. While there are a plethora of supplements that claim to improve sleep, it's crucial to be selective and informed about what you put into your body. Let’s dive into some of the sleep-promoting dietary supplements that may help you catch those elusive Zzz's.
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by your body to regulate sleep-wake cycles. While supplemental melatonin can be effective, moderation is key. High doses can lead to grogginess and disrupt your sleep cycle. It’s best to start with a low dose, typically between 0.5 to 1mg, and adjust as needed. I prefer not to go over 3mg. Remember, more is not always better!
However, several of these supplements have synergistic effects. And if pain is keeping you awake at night, consider combining melatonin, CBG (or CBD - see notes below) and PEAmium (palmitoylethanolamide).
Magnesium, an essential mineral, has gained popularity for its potential to improve sleep quality, especially in those with insomnia. It's believed to encourage relaxation by regulating neurotransmitters, which send signals throughout the brain and nervous system. A dosage of 200-400mg is generally recommended, but it’s best to start low and increase slowly. Let your body adjust to magnesium to avoid watery stools.
CBD, a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis, has been reported to reduce anxiety and promote sleep. However, research is still in its early stages, and individual responses can vary. While that's true for all supplements, individual differences appear to be exaggerated for cannabinoids. (For some individuals, they can even produce the opposite of the expected effect.) If you're considering CBD, it's best to start with a low dose and gradually increase until you find what works for you.
CBG, short for Cannabigerol, is another non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis, much like CBD. According to Dr. Dustin Sulak, a renowned integrative medicine physician, about 75% of people find that CBG helps in promoting sleep, while around 25% experience increased wakefulness. When I first began using CBG I found that it mildly promoted wakefulness (not stimulation). However, after about six months of daily use, my system seemed to become more balanced and CBG no longer keeps me awake. This highlights the importance of personal experimentation to determine what works best for your body. Since research on CBG is still emerging, it is recommended to start with a lower dose and observe its effects on your sleep pattern.
Scutellaria baicalensis (Chinese Skullcap)
As a traditional herb, Scutellaria baicalensis, commonly known as Chinese Skullcap, is renowned for its calming effects. It's believed to be both neuroprotective and safe, making it a popular choice for promoting relaxation before bedtime. It's one of my favorites. But be sure to buy it only from a reputable source that performs third party lab testing.
Terpenes, aromatic compounds found in various plants, can also promote sleep. I'll mention one popular terpene that may aid sleep:
- Beta-myrcene: Found in lemongrass and mangoes, it's believed to have muscle-relaxant and sedative effects.
Speaking of lemongrass, it is not only aromatic but can also be an effective sleep aid. It contains compounds that may help to relieve anxiety and promote restful sleep. Consuming lemongrass tea before bed is a popular method of utilizing its sleep-promoting benefits. You can also take capsules.
Bacopa Monnieri, commonly known as Brahmi, is an herb that has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. It is believed to reduce stress and anxiety, which can, in turn, improve sleep quality.
Tulsi (Holy Basil)
Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil, is another herb cherished in Ayurvedic medicine. It’s considered an adaptogen, helping the body to adapt to stress and promoting mental balance. Drinking tulsi tea before bed may help calm the mind and pave the way for a good night’s sleep.
Ashwagandha is a powerful herb in Ayurvedic healing. Known as an adaptogen, it helps your body manage stress, which can be beneficial for sleep. Some studies suggest that ashwagandha can improve sleep quality and help manage insomnia.
- Chamomile: This is a classic sleep aid and is often consumed as a tea. Chamomile is thought to work by acting on GABA receptors in the brain, which helps to calm the nervous system.
- Passionflower: This herb has traditionally been used to relieve anxiety and improve sleep. It can be consumed as tea or in supplement form.
A Note on Safety
I have some concerns regarding the safety of kava kava and valerian root; I don't usually recommend them. It's important to do your own research and consult a healthcare professional before using any supplement, especially if you're pregnant, nursing, or taking medications.
Sleep is a precious commodity, and finding natural ways to enhance its quality can be beneficial. While supplements like melatonin, magnesium, CBD, Scutellaria baicalensis, and some terpenes show promise, it's vital to use them responsibly and in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle. Consult your healthcare provider when in doubt.
Sleep well and stay healthy!