We’ve all been there.
Tossing and turning through the night. Lying awake in bed as the minutes tick by. Each passing hour, we tell ourselves if I fall asleep now, I can still get 4 hours’ sleep…3 hours…2 hours…
We know sleep is fundamental to our health. It regulates mood, energy levels, and cognitive function. Without it, our health risks increase, and our abilities to concentrate and think creatively suffer. It takes a toll on our mental health, affects our school/job performance, and is just all around the worst. But you knew that – it’s why you’re here. You’re tired. And you know what? You’re not alone. Roughly 1 in 3 Americans aren’t getting enough quality sleep. So what can you do to increase your chances of getting the blissful sleep you need?
Consider the following 5 supplements. All are easily attained, and pure magic when it comes to the zzz’s.
DiScLaImEr: Consider speaking with your doctor before taking any new medications or supplements. If you’re on other medications, do your own research or check with your doctor before introducing new supplements/medications to avoid negative interactions.
Okay, YES. CBD oil changed my life. When I was finishing my Ph.D., I was so unbelievably stressed and wired and overwhelmed that sleep became a 3-4 hour thing every other night. On top of that, I only managed to get to sleep at all by taking Melatonin + some OTC sleep aid like Unisom or Advil PM, all of which I hate because they’re no good for your health long term and make you groggy and tired the next day (but I figured, not as tired as not sleeping for 6 months). It was terrible, so please don’t try this at home. Let’s just smack a Surgeon General’s Warning on that life.
When a friend suggested CBD oil, I was all for it because I’m a goddess of the earth, so I’m always up for trying new natural remedies. She swore by it, and while I wasn’t convinced it would be enough to get me to sleep without the Unisom, I bought a bottle, and oh. my. gaaad. It was everything.
By taking one dropper an hour before bed, I fall asleep easily without being struck by overwhelming tiredness. I sleep through the night, the quality of sleep is amazing, and I always wake up feeling fresh. I don’t think anything has changed the way I sleep more than CBD oil.
I started out with 250 mg and took anywhere from half a dropper (0.5 mL) to a full dropper (1 mL). After a while, I upped to 500 mg, and that’s been working well. I buy from Sacred Leaf, either the CBD VG Tincture or CBG Oil. They have a variety of flavors, and you can drop it straight into your mouth or mix it into a drink. I’ve also bought from Bluebird Botanicals, which is another quality product and a bit cheaper than Sacred Leaf, but they don’t have all the tasty flavors.
**Update 07/12/2019: I’ve just had the brand cbdMD recommended to me by a local CBD tea line distributor in my area. I’ve done some research and checked reviews, and it’s definitely a quality product in a more affordable price range. I haven’t had a chance to try it myself yet, but I’ll post updates when I do.
High-quality CBD oil is pricey. You can find cheaper CBD products on Amazon, but they’ll almost certainly be diluted and less effective than the real stuff. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from it. I’ve bought CBD oil on Amazon when money’s been tight, and it still did something. Basically, it was better than nothing.
Note: Before buying any CBD products (especially the ones on sites like Amazon), do your research. Make sure it’s a reputable product. Read the reviews. Do an external Google search about the company or seller. Make sure they list any additional ingredients. Read up on any ingredients you don’t recognize. Don’t get conned into buying a tiny bottle of mint-flavored olive oil for $25. Or worse, something potentially harmful.
5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is the precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, otherwise known as the “happiness hormone.” While there is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of 5-HTP as a treatment for any condition, there have been some indications of its potential benefits in minimizing symptoms of depression & anxiety, migraines, insomnia, and even promoting weight loss. Because serotonin is converted into melatonin, 5-HTP is potentially useful as a sleep aid.
I take 5-HTP for both sleep and mood. If I’m having trouble getting tired or winding down, 5-HTP is my number one. Unlike CBD oil, it’ll hit you with that sleepiness and have you dropping off before you know it.
I buy NOW Foods 5-HTP capsules on Amazon, both in 50 mg and 100 mg. They can also be found at pretty much any health food store. I tend to stick with 50 mg for sleep, and only take 100 mg if I’m extra wired.
Take 5-HTP too late, and you’ll be sleepy the next day. Also, use it sparingly. Try not to take it too many days in a row because overly-elevated serotonin levels can lead to anxiety, agitation, and restlessness. If you develop any of these symptoms after taking 5-HTP, stop for at least a week. If symptoms persist, this could indicate Serotonin Syndrome (Toxicity), which is incredibly dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Speak to your doctor immediately.
Magnesium is a natural mineral with a zillion benefits, so don’t be surprised if it pops up on every single post I write about health/mental health/well-being – especially, because 50% of Americans don’t consume the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR).
I take 200 mg of magnesium 3x daily (morning, midday, evening). It won’t induce sleepiness or put you straight to bed, but magnesium is essential for regulating neurotransmitters and melatonin, which will help calm your body and mind. So, if it’s racing thoughts keeping you up at night, magnesium might be just what you need to shut them down.
My go-to brand is Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium, 100% Chelated. My morning dose comes in my multivitamin, which I customize on VitaminLab to include my preferred type (magnesium glycinate) and dosage (200mg).
L-Theanine is an amino acid found in certain tea leaves and mushrooms. It promotes relaxation without causing drowsiness or a surge in energy, meaning you can take in the morning and/or night.
I use NOW Foods L-Theanine, 200 mg or Doctor’s Best L-Theanine with Suntheanine, 150 mg. I take it in the evening to help shake off the stress of the day. The effects are subtle – so subtle that sometimes I’ll think it’s not doing anything and stop taking it. That’s when I realize how effective it really is at taking the edge off.
Initially, I introduced inositol into my supplement regime after reading about its potential benefits for PCOS and ADHD. When I took my first ever dose, it was around 2 PM as I sat down to get some much-needed work done. Thirty minutes later I was like OH NICE, I can take this to go to sleep at night, and my work was done for the day.
Note: there is scientific evidence to suggest benefits of inositol supplementation for PCOS, but insufficient evidence that it has any effect on ADHD or insomnia. So again, do your own research, speak to your doctor, enroll in a master’s for holistic medicine – whatever you need to do – because all I can tell you on this one is my experience, and *spoiler* my experience isn’t backed by science (though sleep benefits of inositol aren’t disputed by science either). Anyway, my experience is that inositol brought on a noticeable cloud of drowsiness when I took it at 2 PM and has been a reliable sleep-aid for me ever since.
My method is to take two capsules of NOW Foods Choline & Inositol, 500 mg about an hour before I want to sleep. I take the inositol-choline combo because of evidence indicating choline can benefit asthma. If you have no need for choline, there are plenty of inositol-only capsules, including NOW Foods Inositol 500 mg.
The sleep-inducing effect of inositol isn’t as overt as the 5-HTP, but don’t be fooled. Take it too late, and there is a possibility you’ll feel some slight grogginess the next morning.
If you’re sleepy and you know it, shake your meds. Goodnight.