How Supplements can provide Better Sleep
Vitamins and minerals play a critical role in the quality of our sleep. Some help you sleep longer; some deeper – some help you get to sleep faster – some help regulate your internal clock. Are you searching for a solution to a sleep problem through supplements? Supplements can provide better sleep and get you on the road to better health when used correctly. Below are tips to point you in the right direction, but make sure to dig deeper — and consider these things before you begin to supplement your sleep…
Look to Nature
While supplements can provide us with better sleep, it’s important to get as many of those nutrients as possible through a wholesome diet. Consuming whole, unprocessed foods provides the best nutritional support and while that isn’t always easy, it’s well worth it. If you’re coming up short, supplements will help fill in some of those nutritional gaps so that you can get better sleep.
Do your Research
While some supplements assist in regulating our sleep cycles, others can actually increase the risk of sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea. Understand what you’re going to be taking so you can make sure it’s the best choice for you and your sleep issue.
Talk with your Doctor
Always speak with your doctor or pharmacist before adding supplements to your health regimen.
Looking for ways to increase your sleep, improve your quality of sleep, or regulate your sleep with supplements?
Here are some supplements that can provide better sleep. Along with these proven sleep boosters, you’ll also find tips on getting a lot of these nutrients naturally through your diet and lifestyle…
15 Supplements that can provide better sleep:
Ashwagandha, (aka: Indian Ginseng,) is commonly used to restore the immune system after illness — and happily, it also helps resolve sleeping issues including insomnia.
This herb prepares the body for sleep by reducing stress and anxiety; which improves sleep quality. It allows users to more easily achieve “deep sleep” by activating calming GABA receptors in the brain.
It is classified as an adaptogen and revered in ayurvedic medicine because it provides anti-stress, anti-tumor, neuro-regenerative and anti-arthritic properties. (Adaptogens help your body adjust to stress by stimulating its stress-protection response so its systems can return to homeostasis.)
- Note: Ashwagandha is not a quick-fix – it can take several months to realize its full effect on sleep quality.
Vitamin B6 helps us produce the hormones, Serotonin and Melatonin. Each of these is essential in getting restful sleep and regulating mood.
Higher Vitamin B6 intake is linked to a lower risk for depression in older adults because it guards against sleep conditions like insomnia and hypersomnia.
- Work with your doctor to find the right dosage of Vitamin B6; high levels can be toxic–and excessive levels may lead to insomnia.
Increase your Vitamin B6 intake naturally through your diet. Good sources of B6 are:
- Bananas, Carrots, Cheese
- Eggs, Fish, Peanuts
- Pork, Poultry, Spinach
- and Whole Grains
Vitamin B12 is a sleep-wake cycle regulator that helps keep your circadian rhythms in sync. If you have a deficiency in this vitamin, it can cause anemia, depression, damage to nerves and imbalances of neurotransmitters –all of these are known to cause sleep disturbances.
Studies on low levels of Vitamin B12 are mixed and can be confusing; some show lower levels link to a higher incidence of insomnia–while others show higher levels of B12 disrupt sleep and shorten length of sleep. *Large doses of B12 are not recommended if you don’t have a diagnosed vitamin B12 deficiency. Chat with your doctor to find your best dosage if you’re low on B12.
Make sure you’re getting an adequate natural supply of B12 from your food. This vitamin can be found in animal proteins including dairy, eggs, fish and shellfish, fortified breakfast cereals and meat.
- Note: Those practicing a vegan diet will find they are more in need of a supplement as B12 is missing from plant-based foods.
The calcium found in dairy is critical to maintaining sleep cycles. It combines with tryptophan in the body to create more of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Being low on calcium, can lead to extreme fatigue and may cause Insomnia.
During a study published in the European Neurology Journal, research showed calcium levels registered higher during the deep (REM) phase of sleep. Thus they determined sleep disturbances during this phase of deep sleep were related to calcium deficiencies. Normalizing blood calcium levels proved to restore those subjects to normal sleep patterns.
- Note: There is some debate about the best time of day to take a Calcium supplement so make sure to check with your physician or at least do some research. Meanwhile, try eating calcium-rich foods before bed for better sleep.
In addition to dairy; get more calcium naturally by including these foods in your diet:
- Almonds, Broccoli, Cabbage, Chia Seeds
- Dried Apricots, Dates, Eggs, Figs
- Leafy Greens, Lemon Peels, Lentils
- Milk, Oranges, Prunes, Salmon, Sardines
- Sesame Seeds, Tofu and Yogurt
Vitamin C is known to improve length and quality of sleep and lessens some of the negative health effects caused by sleep deprivation. Case in point: it protects against memory loss – a too-common result of insufficient sleep.
Individuals with low Vitamin C blood levels have shown a higher incidence of disrupted sleep and a greater tendency toward sleep disorders.
Vitamin C is also believed to improve symptoms of OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) both on its own and when combined with other antioxidants.
Fortify your diet with these nutrients to naturally boost your intake of Vitamin C:
- Black Currants, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts
- Cauliflower, Citrus, Green; Red and Yellow Chilis
- Guava, Kale, Kiwis, Parsley, Potatoes
- Spinach, Strawberries and Thyme
Vitamin D is key to getting efficient sleep; being deficient in Vitamin D is linked to short sleep; poor quality sleep, and a risk of developing Sleep Apnea.
Technically classified as a hormone, Vitamin D regulates mood and sleep cycles. Recent research indicates it accomplishes this by activating two circadian “clock genes” which regulate our internal bio clocks.
Light and darkness are the primarily regulators of circadian rhythms, so look to sunlight to boost Vitamin D. Ten to fifteen minutes of sun exposure a few times a week helps maintain sufficient Vitamin D blood levels by helping your body produce its own supply. Getting enough Sunlight is by far the best way to sync your internal clock – so go get some!
Supplement your time in the sun with these foods to increase your intake of Vitamin D:
- Cod Liver Oil, Cow’s Milk
- Egg Yolks, Fatty Fish
- Fortified Cereals, Mushrooms
- and Orange Juice
This antioxidant protects the part of the brain that stores memory to guard against both short and long-term memory impairment which can result from sleep deprivation. Vitamin E is also known to improve sleep quality.
Low Vitamin E levels have been linked to sleep apnea. Taken on its own or with Vitamin C and other antioxidants, Vitamin E has been used to improve nighttime breathing for individuals with (OSA) obstructive sleep apnea.
Get more Vitamin E naturally, by including lots of nuts and seeds in your diet: almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts and sunflower seeds are all good sources. Additional food sources with high Vitamin E are: beet greens, collard greens, broccoli, pumpkin, red bell peppers, spinach, tomatoes, and wheat germ oil.
Created naturally by our bodies, this compound boosts production of the Serotonin required to make the hormone Melatonin — which in turn helps to regulate sleep-wake cycles.
5-HTP can help you fall asleep faster because it decreases stress and anxiety which are known to interfere with sleep. Some studies show 5-HTP may also help to reduce sleep terrors in children.
While you can’t get 5-HTP from food, Tryptophan (used by the body to make 5-HTP) is found in:
- Eggs, Chicken, Collard Greens
- Milk, Nuts, Oatmeal, Potatoes
- Pork, Pumpkin, Red Meat
- Seaweed, Sunflower Seeds
- Tofu and Turkey
This amino acid stimulates sleep by helping the body produce the hormone and neurotransmitter Serotonin. It is effective in improving symptoms of Insomnia and helps one get back to a regular sleeping pattern after a period of interrupted sleep.
Glycine helps people fall asleep faster and spend more time in REM sleep. This is because it triggers a drop in body temperature — our bodies rely on such a drop in temperature to be able to fall asleep.
Glycine is found naturally in high-protein foods such as: buffalo, bone broth, dairy, eggs, fish, legumes and meat.
Vegetarian Glycine sources include: bananas, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, kale, kiwi, pumpkin and spinach.
Magnesium is a mineral that supports sleep function by helping the body maintain sufficient levels of GABA and Melatonin. It is known for regulating sleep cycles and helps to alleviate the Insomnia that can accompany Restless-Leg-Syndrome.
Chronic Insomnia is one of the main symptoms of Magnesium deficiency and it’s estimated that approximately half of all US adults are magnesium deficient.
- Note: Combine Magnesium with Calcium for best results.
Eat these foods to get more magnesium in your diet naturally:
avocados, bananas, dark chocolate, dried apricots, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, shellfish and tofu.
- Avocados, Bananas, Dark Chocolate
- Dried Apricots, Leafy Greens, Nuts
- Seeds, Shellfish and Tofu
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
Used as a natural sleep therapy through the ages, the polyphenols in Magnolia Bark relax the mind and induce sleep. This extract acts as a sedative to lower stress and anxiety and is said to lengthen time spent in both slow wave sleep and REM sleep.
Magnolia Bark is known for its power to increase GABA activity in the brain and for its ability to lower adrenaline levels which can be very effective when someone is “too wired” to sleep.
Technically a hormone, Melatonin is naturally produced by the body. Just as Vitamin D is produced by exposing your body to sunlight, exposure to darkness triggers the body’s production of Melatonin.
It supports sleep by helping the body develop consistent sleep-wake cycles. Research shows Melatonin can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer; reduce daytime fatigue, and help increase time spent in REM sleep.
Boost your body’s production of Melatonin with these all natural sources:
- Almonds, Fenugreek, Fish
- Goji Berries, Lyceum Berries
- Mustard Seed, Olive Oil
- Raspberries, Tart Cherries
- Salmon, Sardines and Wine
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Higher levels of Omega-3 are connected with better quality sleep; specifically, fewer interruptions to sleep cycles. Omega-3’s are also known to promote longer periods of sleep.
Low levels of Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to cause sleep problems in children and are linked to sleep apnea in adults.
While these healthy fats can be found naturally in a variety of seafood, nuts and oils, your body may not always convert them efficiently so, if you find yourself deficient in Omega-3’s, your health advisor may recommend supplements.
Great natural sources for getting Omega-3’s in your diet include:
- Cod Liver Oil, Cruciferous Vegetables
- Eggs, Fatty Fish, Flaxseed, Leafy Greens
- Peanut Butter, Pumpkin Seeds
- Walnuts and Yogurt
Valerian & Hops
This dynamic duo provides relaxation bordering on sedation. Each has been recognized as a sleep aid for centuries — that’s because they both boost production of the sleep-promoting brain chemical GABA.
Valerian is best known for reducing anxiety and helping one fall asleep faster. Hops has a sedative effect that helps lengthen sleep time. Taken together or separately, Valerian & Hops provide powerful sleep support.
Be Smart, Be Safe, Be Well
There’s just no substitute for a good night’s sleep and supplements can help provide that much needed sleep.
Getting quality sleep is one of the single most important ways of keeping healthy — utilizing supplements correctly just might help you get the sleep you’ve been missing.
Always check with your doctor before introducing a new supplement into your routine. Read the labels and do your own research – always be sure you know what you’re taking; why you’re taking it – when to take it, how to take it… and what you should or shouldn’t take it with.
Of course all the supplements in the world won’t help you sleep if you’re dealing with noise interference — if that’s the case, try supplementing your sleep with the soothing tones of pink noise — it also provides better sleep.
Wishing you all the best sleep…
For more information on how supplements provide better sleep: