Nearly 50% of older adults have insomnia, with difficulty in getting to sleep, early awakening, or feeling unrefreshed on waking. This blog summarises the most evidence based supplements for sleep.
Being sleep deprived is tough. There’s no denying it. It can lead to a snowball of poor decisions throughout the day. It’s hard to have the motivation to make the changes required to help ourselves out. Obviously ensure you have mastered the basics. If you are still struggling, then this blog might help.
So (continue to) focus on the basics:
- Get some morning sunlight.
- Have regular meal times and regular wake-up and go to bed times (if this possible)
- Exercise daily, and ideally earlier in the day, not late in the evening.
- Manage blood sugar levels and stress levels.
- Wear blue light blocking glasses in the evenings.
- And remember to breath(!).
This blog isn’t around the basics though. It’s about providing options on natural supplements for those who need a little help. Or, for those seeking the most restorative deep magical sleep possible! ;0)
You might want to also read this blog on sleep ‘How To Sleep Like A Baby, A Functional Medicine and Biohacking Approach‘.
So let’s have a look at supplements (herbs, vitamins, minerals) that may help sleep.
Supplements For Sleep
Magnesium – This study shows that “supplementation of magnesium appears to improve subjective measures of insomnia such as ISI score, sleep efficiency, sleep time and sleep onset latency, early morning awakening, and likewise, insomnia objective measures such as concentration of serum renin, melatonin, and serum cortisol, in elderly people“.
Glycine – glycine has been found, at a dose of 3 g/day before bedtime, to improve subjective sleep quality and reduce sleepiness and fatigue during the day in individuals with insomniac tendencies or restricted sleep time. It was also revealed that the same dose of glycine stabilised the sleep state and shortened the latency to slow-wave sleep.
Vitamin B6 – I add vitamin B6 here as it has been shown to significantly increase the amount of dream content participants recalled so if you are into lucid dreaming then it is a good option to consider. However, this study found that vitamin B6 did not significantly affect dream vividness, bizarreness, or color. Nor did it significantly affect other sleep-related variables.
Ashwagandha – A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study published last year concluded: “Ashwagandha root extract is a natural compound with sleep-inducing potential, well tolerated and improves sleep quality and sleep onset latency in patients with insomnia at a dose of 300 mg extract twice daily. It could be of potential use to improve sleep parameters in patients with insomnia and anxiety”.
GABA – GABA, at 300 mg daily, has been shown to “improved not only the subjective sleep quality but also the objective sleep efficacy without severe adverse events”
This product includes GABA, vitamin B6, and l-theanine.
There are other combination formulas available such as this one. I recommend trying individual nutrients first to see which ones work. Then, seeing if there is an available formula that includes these. This can often work out cheaper this way.
So, we have various supplements to consider when seeking improvement in sleep – to whatever degree. These are only, in my eyes, a short term strategy however. We must consider the underlying dysfunction impacting our sleep. And this is so often lifestyle driven. However, especially if you track your sleep, you can certainly explore which products ‘optimise’ your sleep. You could also explore what products might be most valuable for when you are entering a stressful period. For example, if you need to work longer working hours due to a deadline. This will allow for optimal recovery and thus resilience during this time.