Supplements For Sleep
Are you struggling to catch enough zzz’s at night? The first port of call is to ensure you are practicing good sleep hygiene. Avoid playing on your phone, eating late or downing a lot of caffeine before bed. However if you believe you’re doing everything right and still struggling to doze off, then it might be worth trying some supplements. Keep reading to find out what ingredients are typically included in sleep supplements and how they can make a meaningful difference to your sleep quality.
Magnesium is one of the seven essential minerals our bodies need to function well. It is found in foods like yoghurt, milk and green vegetables. Magnesium can effectively relieve sore muscle cramps and make you feel a bit less stressed. Unfortunately, many New Zealanders are deficient because our soils are not magnesium rich. This is why so many multivitamins frequently include it on the ingredients list. Even if you eat magnesium rich foods, a lot of it can get lost through the process of cooking. Getting in some extra magnesium via supplements can make a huge difference to your general health and sleep quality.
A good dose to start with would be 200mg of either magnesium glycinate or threonate. The type of magnesium you take makes a difference. These options are the most bioavailable which means they are easy for your body to absorb. Interestingly, magnesium threonate is able to cross your blood brain barrier. Research shows it can help prevent dementia even keep you sharper between the ears. Avoid taking magnesium oxide because this acts as a stool softener rather than a sleep aid.
The best time to supplement would be around 30 minutes before you hit the sack. Bear in mind that taking more magnesium doesn’t equal more benefit. It is possible to overdo it. You’ll know if you’re taking too much because you will experience nausea or diarrhea. In saying this, side effects are quite rare if you’re taking the recommended dose. Always read the back of the supplement and follow the instructions carefully.
Zinc is another one of the seven essential minerals that improves a range of different functions in the body. Not only does it help your immune system but it also improves brain function and can help you sleep by inducing feelings of calmness. Supplement companies often combine zinc with magnesium and other B vitamins (these products are called ZMAs). This is because when taken together, zinc and magnesium work to each other’s advantage. This winning combo can seriously help relax your muscles and mind. Zinc can also reduce your blood pressure and may be just what you need to chill out before bed.
If taking ZMA’s, you should have them just before bed but ideally 90 minutes after eating. This will help with absorption. You would have to consume significant amounts of zinc to notice any negative side effects but do be aware that consuming more of a mineral does not mean you will experience more benefits. Excessive intake can cause headache, nausea, diarrhoea or loss of appetite. If you experience these symptoms then you will know that supplementation is not necessary. Always take the amount recommended on the label or consult an expert first.
Apegenin is a plant compound found in fruits, vegetables and most notably chamomile tea. It is best known for its anxiety reducing properties and sedative effects when taken in high doses. Research shows that apigenin can improve symptoms of depression, anxiety and insomnia. This study found that insomniacs who consumed chamomile were able to function better during the day compared to the group who didn’t. This is why you often hear people recommending a cup of chamomile tea before bed. The apigenin present in the tea can help you relax and drift straight to sleep. Even in high doses, apigenin is very safe for human consumption. This means you don’t have to worry about any nasty side effects. If nodding off easily isn’t your forte, try a couple of chamomile gummies before bed and see if they help you relax.
L-theanine is an amino acid typically found in tea. Consumption can enhance feelings of relaxation however it doesn’t give you the drowsiness that other sleep aids can cause. L-Theanine is often included in energy drinks because it offsets some of the anxiety inducing effects of caffeine and can even lower your heart rate. Just like magnesium threonate, L-Theanine is able to cross the blood brain barrier. This means it can have positive effects on your cognitive function. Studies show L-Theanine can improve both your mental health and memory. You could supplement it throughout the day to improve cognitive function or save it till night time if you want to feel relaxed before bed. Overdoing it on the L-Theanine is not something you need to worry much about because it has a very low toxicity. Some people anecdotally report that L-Theanine causes them to have more vivid dreams but this is not yet proven. On the whole, it is a relatively safe supplement and appears to have many scientifically backed benefits.
There is a lot of hype these days surrounding ashwagandha but what is it? Ashwagandha is a little shrub found in Africa and Asia. It contains chemicals that can help with symptoms related to stress such as anxiety. Additionally, it can even improve insomnia. This is why many sleep products these days include it as an ingredient. Although more research is needed, the current literature tells us that ashwagandha can do great things for those who suffer with anxiety or struggle with sleep. It is well tolerated by the body and doses of 300mg twice daily can improve sleep quality. Very large doses may cause an upset tummy so make sure to follow the recommended dosage on the product you buy. Ashwagandha has been used in Eastern medicine for centuries and is quite safe for the general population (those with health conditions must always consult their doctor first).
If your sleep is disturbed then cherries might be your new favourite fruit. Tart cherry juice (aka prunus cerasus) can improve many aspects of health such as immunity, inflammation and importantly sleep duration and quality. It does this by encouraging your body to produce melatonin (a hormone that tells you it’s time to sleep). Research shows that tart cherry juice is more effective than valerian at improving sleep (valerian being one of the most popular supplements for insomnia). Also, the fact that it is a fruit means it comes with a whole host of other nutrients like vitamin A, potassium and manganese. Considering all the benefits tart cherries can provide, supplementation is definitely worth thinking about.
Being deprived of sleep is a great way to ruin your general well-being and quality of life. Supplements should never be relied upon but they can be very useful in the right situations. Hopefully this article has taught you something about sleep supplements and what the different ingredients can help with. If you nod off easily without any supplementary aids then keep it up. For those who are seriously struggling and can’t seem to lock in a good sleep routine, then a supplement could help you out. The benefits of getting sufficient sleep are undisputed. Prioritize your seven hour nightly minimum and you’ll be much better for it. Shop Our Sleep Support Range.