The Top 6 Natural Nootropics For Sleep
Having good sleep hygiene can almost certainly guarantee quality sleep and full daytime alertness. Yet, if that is the case, why do so many people overlook this practice?
Living in an information age filled with technology emitting blue lights, instant messages, and constant distractions, it makes sense to why people do not get quality sleep. However, before even thinking of taking any nootropic supplements that promotes sleep, there are five simple steps you can implement today to improve your sleep hygiene.
- Eliminate any electronics 2 hours before bedtime: This can be incredibly difficult for the people who have night shifts or for the people who have a habit of bringing their phone, tablets, or laptops to bed. If you bring your phone, tablet or laptop to bed, your brain will subconsciously want to be stimulated by the electronic devices instead of sleep, which will affect your quality sleep. Additionally, the blue light – short wavelength – emitted from the devices affects levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin more than any other wavelengths. If you absolutely “have” to bring your electronics to bed, download apps that will make your screen have a “warmer tone” or get glasses with yellowish orange lenses to blocks out the blue portion of the light spectrum.
- Establish a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends: This helps to regulate your body’s clock and will help you easily fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
- If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon: Napping does not make up for inadequate sleep. However, if you are extremely tired to the point it affects your mood, alertness, or performance, a short nap of 20 – 30 minutes may help. Eliminating even short catnaps altogether may help in the quality of sleep you get during the night.
- Evaluate your room: Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool – between 60 and 67 degrees. Your bedroom should also be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep. Finally, your bedroom should be free from any light. Check your room for noises or other distractions. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices.
- Steer away from foods that can be potentially disruptive before sleep: This means any foods or drinks that are fat, fried, spicy, citrus, carbonated, rich, or heavy which can disrupt the quality of sleep.
If you tried all the tips above and need an extra boost, the list below are ingredients found in natural nootropic stacks which can potentially aid in the process of getting quality sleep. However, it should not be used as a sleep aid to treat insomnia. So without further adieu, the top 6 natural nootropics for sleep are:
1) 5-HTP – nootropics for sleep
5 HTP are normally sourced from the African climbing shrub, Griffonia Simplicifolia. The seeds of this plant contain between 5-20% of pure 5 HTP by weight. How it works is that the 5 HTP readily travels through the bloodstream to the brain, crossing the blood brain barrier. It is then converted into the neurotransmitter serotonin, which plays a role in the feeling of happiness, relaxation, and calmness, and sleep. Serotonin can subsequently be converted into melatonin. Increasing the levels of melatonin will directly impact your sleep onset and maintenance of circadian rhythm, resulting in a more restful, deeper sleep throughout the night. 5 HTP essentially gives the body a break from making the chemical conversions itself. And is extremely helpful to those who have troubles sleeping.
2) Ashwaghanda– nootropics for sleep
Ashwagandha is a medicinal root, traditionally used throughout the centuries in Indian medicine. It is known for cutting stress and promoting natural relaxation which can greatly aid in the sleeping process. As an adaptogen, it helps to improve the body’s reaction to stress by cutting and blocking the amount of excess cortisol (stress hormone). This results in decreased stress, reduced blood pressure, anxiety, and balance blood sugar levels. These anxiolytic effects are achieved by modulating the levels of monoamine oxidase and activating signaling through GABA receptors in the brain. Since Ashwagandha exhibits GABA-like properties (inhibitory function – slows down neuron firing) this means that it mildly sedates and gives a sense of peace without creating drowsiness; and is the key to the efficacy of taking Ashwagandha for sleep.
It is important to note for the people who suffer from high blood, low blood pressure, stomach ulcers, multiple sclerosis, lupus, or thyroid disorders, should not take Ashwagandha. However, it is safe to combine with most other natural nootropics supplements.
3) L-Glutamine – nootropics for sleep
L-Glutamine is one of the 20 amino acids that are the building blocks for all protein in the body. If the body has enough L-glutamine available it can increase the production GABA which has a positive impact on restorative sleep. This is because GABA inhibits the signal transmission between the nerve cells, meaning, it is like a natural sedative in the brain. As a result, users will feel a balance in stressful situations, peace of mind, and reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress.
4) L-theanine – nootropics for sleep
L-theanine is a non-protein amino acid that is naturally found in green tea leaves. It enables the user to reach an optimal state of relaxed concentration without the feeling of drowsiness. This is due to the fact that it induces the increase of GABA and glutamate. GABA receptors work as a “downer” modulator for the brain, while glutamate is the “upper” control. This explains why individuals do not feel as both receptors are targeted, hence it lightly relaxes the user. Taking high doses can be a great sleep aid as it will increase GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that reduces anxiety while promoting relaxation.
Additionally, l-theanine is known to smooth out alpha brain waves which are thought to be responsible for inducing a deep level of relaxation. This results in the mind being calmed and the body relaxed. It works best when taken with melatonin as l-theanine itself does not induce sleep.
5) Huperzine A – nootropics for sleep
Huperzine A is an extract that comes from the Chinese club moss (Huperziceae family). It is known as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, meaning it stops an enzyme from breaking down acetylcholine which results in an increase in acetylcholine. In terms of sleep, studies have shown that Huperzine A increases the levels of rapid eye movement by as much as 30% which is crucial for quality sleep. However, tolerance to Huperzine A can occur, hence, it not recommended for prolonged use.
6) Valeriana Officinalis– nootropics for sleep
Valeriana officinalis or valerian roots is a plant commonly used for relaxation and sedation purposes. It has been highly associated to soothe anxiety and improve sleep quality. Although scientific measurements showed no difference between people who supplemented valerian root and may just be a placebo, many participants reported it did improve the overall quality of their sleep when supplementing valerian root. It works by activating the sedative neurotransmitter GABA in the brain which is responsible for preventing individuals from becoming anxious or feeling stressed. A study was done in which one out of eight pilots supplemented valerian. The results showed that the pilot who supplemented Valerian was able to improve sleep latency, however, large doses were associated with drowsiness the following day.
Melatonin – supplements for sleep
Although melatonin is a hormone that the body naturally produces on its own, it can also be found in supplements. There are two different versions of melatonin supplements, instant release and timed release. Timed release is recommended over instant release as it offers a smoother, longer lasting effect’ compared to the instant release short half-life. It is important to note that melatonin should not be supplement daily as it can potentially depress the natural production of melatonin in the body. Many melatonin supplements are way too strong anyway, hence, a dose of 300 mcg is sufficient. Do not take 6 mg of melatonin at a time as it will make users wake up feeling fatigue and unrested. Other than that, melatonin should only be used if users want to shift their sleep time earlier or later, as further studies need to be done to support any additional claims.
Waking up 1-3 times during the night shows that you are not getting the proper rest you need and can end up making you sleep longer. Deep sleep is what you need in order to get rest so you can perform optimally tomorrow. Remember, it is not the quantity of sleep that matters, rather the quality of sleep.
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