(This is Part III of a three-part series on Sleep. If you missed Part I, you can read it here and if you missed Part II, you can read it here.)
The supplements that are presented here are to be used or tried in addition to the strategies presented in part 2 of this series. These herbs and nutrients can nourish your nervous system, restore balance in your autonomic nervous system, support neurotransmitter production and give you extra help in relieving anxiety and depression and generally help in improving your mood.
However, don’t forget other strategies that can help you get a good night’s sleep including:
- Meditation - even a quick breathing exercise that works for you
- Practicing yoga or other physical movement activity (in moderation) during the day
- Daily ritual which can be a time-out for something as simple as a cup of tea or a walk with a friend.
- Journaling - can be any topic but may focus on fears/worries or gratitude, for example.
- Decompress after work with any relaxation technique that works for you.
- Unplug from digital devices/social media for a period of time; especially before bed.
- Get fresh air even if only for a few minutes (better if longer!) each day.
- Play - doing something you enjoy
Along with all of the above, the following are supplements that provide natural support for sleep (and for mood):
L-theanine: a calming amino acid found in green tea. It can increase alpha brain waves and thus help with relaxation as well as focus and alertness. Research supports that it promotes mental health when stress is a factor.
It enhances the production of neurotransmitters (e.g. serotonin, dopamine and GABA). Recommended dose is 100-200 mg per day.
Lavender: used for its essential oil or aromatherapy. It can deepen sleep, reduce anxiety and relieve tension. Some evidence suggests that lavender can increase slow-wave sleep patterns. It can assist with less waking during the night. If the essential oil is your preferred method, the dose is 60 mg capsule before bedtime. It is, however, not recommended if you have personally had estrogen-receptor-positive cancer. Aromatherapy use is acceptable in pregnancy.
Magnesium: is an essential dietary mineral. It promotes relaxation and relieves anxiety and depression. Magnesium glycinate, citrate and lactate are best for supplementation and the dose recommendation is 400 to 600 mg per day.
Melatonin: is a neurohormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. The primary use for melatonin as a sleep supplement is to normalize abnormal sleep patterns. Light suppresses melatonin synthesis. It is especially useful for shift work and jet lag. For regulating sleep cycles, 0.5 to 5 mg works the best. Taking higher doses will not bring on sleep faster. Take melatonin about 30 minutes before bedtime.
Glycine: an amino acid with many important functions in the body. It can promote sleep quality and also benefit cognitive functioning. The recommended dose is 3-5 gm taken before bedtime.
Vitamin B6: Can be taken before bed to relieve night waking by reducing nocturnal cortisol spikes. Studies have also suggested that it can help in the recall of dreams. The recommended dose is 50-100 mg.
Aspy et al (2018) Effects of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) and a B Complex Preparation on Dreaming and Sleep.
Hidese et al. (2019) Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Health Adults.
Romm, A. (2017). The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution.