Getting a Good Night’s Sleep: Supplements to Repair a Broken Sleep Cycle
As many as 1 in 3 adults don’t get the amount of sleep or the quality of sleep they’d like to have. Poor sleep, or insomnia, can be characterized by one or more of several symptoms: difficulty falling asleep, waking up too early and being unable to fall back to sleep, waking up for long periods in the night, and not feeling refreshed after sleeping. Over time, insomnia critically affects your quality of life, by draining your energy, reducing your ability to concentrate and causing irritability and mood disorders.
Prescription medications for sleep are riddled with side effects you won’t experience taking natural supplements. Unlike sleeping pills, supplements aren’t geared toward putting a band-aid on the symptoms, but toward eliminating the nutrient deficiencies that prevent normal sleep patterns in the first place. Here are the supplements that are most helpful for tackling insomnia and supporting your body’s natural sleep cycle.
Magnesium helps you release tension and relax, preparing you for sleep. One study found that it lowers levels cortisol, a stress hormone that keeps you awake. Another study found that magnesium supplements help normalize the brain’s hormonal and electrical patterns during sleep.
Research has linked vitamin D deficiency to insomnia, and disrupted sleep in particular. Supplementing with vitamin D in its most absorbable form, vitamin D3, can help regulate your sleep cycle and promote longer, deeper sleep.
5-HTP is naturally produced by the body and is responsible for serotonin and melatonin release. Many people become 5-HTP deficient due to stress, aging or health conditions. When this happens, inadequate levels of serotonin and melatonin disrupt your wake-sleep cycle, as these are the main hormones that control when you wake up and when you fall asleep. Studies have found that 5-HTP supplementation is an effective treatment for insomnia because it boosts serotonin and melatonin levels, thus helping you fall asleep, stay asleep and sleep more deeply.
L-theanine is an amino acid that increases alpha wave activity in the brain, which are brain waves we experience during sleep. As a result, you’ll feel a calming effect, almost like you’re taking a sedative. L-theanine also boosts the release of serotonin and GABA, which both promote sleep and help normalize your sleep pattern.
Science has linked higher intake of omega-3s, particularly the omega-3 fat called DHA, with improved sleep. In one study, children who supplemented daily with omega-3s got 1 more hour of sleep per night and had fewer sleep disruptions than children who took a placebo.
While sleep deprivation poses serious health risks and affects your ability to exercise, work and handle stress, taking the right supplements can reverse these effects by restoring your body’s natural sleep cycle. You can get tested for nutrient deficiencies at your doctor’s office to determine exactly what your body may be lacking. Otherwise, start trying these insomnia-busting supplements that offer a host of health benefits and keep deficiencies at bay.