If you are reading this article at 3 a.m. in a foggy haze, aimlessly reading for some form of relief through another sleepless night just know that you are not alone. It is estimated that roughly 40 million Americans are affected with chronic disorders of sleep and wakefulness (Abad, 2003). Sleep deprivation can impose very detrimental effects on individuals as well as others around them. There are supplements that can replete your body what is missing without the groggy side effects of a sleeping pill. I will discuss a few great options to consider addressing your sleep needs. These will help place your body and mind into a better state to tackle each new day and its unique challenges.
Magnesium has been found to help regulate timekeeping at the cellular level, thus important for the circadian rhythm of sleep (Cao, 2018). Magnesium plays a role in muscle relaxation, hence its utilization in restless leg syndrome. Magnesium glycinate and citrate are well absorbed salt forms of magnesium and is available by it or in conjunction with Valerian root in a product called MyoCalm by Metagenics.
Valerian root has been shown to help individuals with anxious behavior and sleep disturbances. With regard to sleep disturbances, valerian can be helpful reducing time to fall asleep and quality of sleep by increasing GABA levels in the body. GABA has a great calming effect to help with stress reduction and anxiety, thus helping sleep. Another amino acid that has been found to help increase GABA levels and in turn alleviate sleep disturbances is L-theanine. My personal perception of sleep disturbances typically is associated with older population associated with stress and not turning off the brain from daily stressors. In reality, sleep disorders affect younger population as well. ADHD population seems to be greatly affected from sleep disturbances. It is estimated that 28% of ADHD patients without medications suffer from chronic insomnia and 48-73% of children with ADHD have some form of sleep difficutlies during their childhood years (Barrett, 2013).
You cannot talk about sleep supplements without mentioning melatonin and tryptophan. Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland that essentially is the body’s internal clock. It will help regulate your sleep cycles. Your body can recognize supplements as comparable to what your body releases to begin the sleep cycle. L-tryptophan is an amino acid that converts into melatonin by way of serotonin. You can generally find tryptophan as 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), which seems cross the blood-brain barrier more effectively than L-tryptophan. Foods like turkey, chicken and whole milk contain L-tryptophan, which is always a topic of conversation around the holidays. Another supplement gaining much traction that seems to be topic of many future studies is hemp oil. It works similarly to GABA products in that it targets anxiety, stress relief and thus restful sleep.
These are few options to try if this symptom profile described you personally or someone you know. It is important to note that not all forms are created equally, so be sure to check the manufacturer of your supplements.
Abad, V. C., & Guilleminault, C. (2003). Diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders: a brief review for clinicians. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 5(4), 371–388.
Barrett, J. R., Tracy, D. K., & Giaroli, G. (2013). To sleep or not to sleep: a systematic review of the literature of pharmacological treatments of insomnia in children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Journal of child and adolescent psychopharmacology, 23(10), 640–647. doi:10.1089/cap.2013.0059
Cao, Y., Zhen, S., Taylor, A. W., Appleton, S., Atlantis, E., & Shi, Z. (2018). Magnesium Intake and Sleep Disorder Symptoms: Findings from the Jiangsu Nutrition Study of Chinese Adults at Five-Year Follow-Up. Nutrients, 10(10), 1354. doi:10.3390/nu10101354