The 8 Best Sleep Supplements That ACTUALLY Work: L-Theanine, Melatonin, Tryptophan And More... (Deep Sleep Optimization, Part 4) | Dr. Michael Van - The Science Of Optimal Human Performance

Let’s Dive Into The Best Natural Supplements You Can Use To Take Your Sleep To The Next Level.

The products discussed in this article will ensure an improved sleep quality, and you’ll be able to regenerate, recover, and repair damage in the most efficient way as possible, giving you INCREDIBLE energy during the day.

 

Now that we have covered the basic aspects of why deep sleep is so crucial for overall health and recovery, how to reset your circadian rhythms, how to incorporate easy-to-follow steps to avoid EMF and how to optimize your sleep environment, we are now going to dive into the top supplements you can use to take your sleep to the next level.

The 8 Best Sleep Supplements That ACTUALLY Work: L-Theanine, Melatonin, Tryptophan And More... (Deep Sleep Optimization, Part 4) - Dr. Michael Van (Michael VanDerschelden)

Remember, start with the basics first in Part 1 through Part 3 of this sleep optimization series before moving on to these strategies. Those set the foundation.

The supplements we are going to go over in this article are additional tips and strategies to take you from a good sleeper to an optimized sleeper, and in this article, we are going to go over the following sleep supplements:

  • Magnesium
  • L-Theanine
  • Medicinal Herbs
  • Omega-3’s
  • Phosphatidylserine
  • Melatonin
  • Tryptophan

Watch my new video now, or keep scrolling if you prefer to read the whole article…

 

The 8 Best Sleep Supplements That ACTUALLY Work: L-Theanine, Melatonin, Tryptophan And More... (Ep4)

 

 

Here Are My 8 Best Sleep Supplements (That ACTUALLY Work!)

 

1. Magnesium

Magnesium should be consumed every evening.

The technical upper limit for magnesium supplementation is 350 mg per day, even though greater doses doesn’t seem to cause any side effects besides GI upset and loose stools.

What we do know is that nearly 68% of Americans have some type of magnesium deficiency, and two of the biggest reasons for depletion is being sleep deprived or chronically stressed out.

This turns into a pretty vicious cycle as being deficient in magnesium will in turn impair your melatonin production, which we now is what signals our brain to initiate relaxation and sleep1.

Supplementing with magnesium increases deep sleep and decreases levels of your stress hormone cortisol2. In fact, doses of 400mg of magnesium daily have shown to increase parasympathetic nervous system function and heart rate variability (HRV)3.

In addition, it seems to help people wind down and lower stress and anxiety by activating the GABA receptors in your brain4. (GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, reducing the activity of your brain and nervous system, which leads to relaxation, reduced stress, alleviation of pain, and gives you a calm, balanced mood.)

In general, you will find that many of the supplements to enhance sleep are also GABA precursors or contain GABA itself for this very reason.

 

Recommended Forms

 

• Magnesium Glycinate

This is a fantastic option because in addition to magnesium, it contains glycine. Glycine is an amino acid and is similar to GABA as it is also a calming neurotransmitter that helps with deep sleep. This amino acid is commonly found in bone broth and gelatin5 6 7.

• Magnesium Threonate

This is a great form because magnesium threonate can cross the blood-brain barrier, allowing you to get the calming effects in the brain where people can use it most8. This also helps enhance learning abilities, working memory, and short and long-term memory.

• Magnesium Malate

Malate has an added bonus of alleviating pain, especially fibromyalgia pain, in addition to helping people with chronic fatigue syndrome.

• Magnesium Citrate

This is perhaps the most common type found in supplements, along with magnesium oxide. This type is completely fine, but it doesn’t contain additional support like the other types to help the body with deep sleep (which again, isn’t a bad thing).

 

 

2. L-Theanine

L-Theanine is an amino acid found naturally in green tea. It can cross the blood-brain barrier and has a direct impact on the brain, helping memory. It helps boost levels of GABA and serotonin, aiding in relaxation. It also seems to increase alpha-brain waves and help you fall asleep9.

It also works synergistically with caffeine, lowering your levels of anxiety and stress10.

This allows you to feel the alertness of caffeine without the jitters. Think of it as a compound that can slow the release of caffeine.

 

How To Take It

Since it is naturally found in green tea and works great with caffeine, one option is to drink green tea throughout the day. However, since green tea also contains caffeine, you don’t want to take that later in the afternoon.

Take 100-200mg of L-Theanine when drinking coffee and another 200mg right before bed. If you are heaving sleep issues, try switching from coffee to green tea and supplement with additional L-Theanine.

 

 

3. Medicinal Herbs

The 8 Best Sleep Supplements That ACTUALLY Work: L-Theanine, Melatonin, Tryptophan And More... (Deep Sleep Optimization, Part 4) - Dr. Michael Van (Michael VanDerschelden)

Many of the following herbs I recommend below help support sleep and act as GABA precursors, promoting relaxation. These include:

 

1. Valerian Root

This has been shown to improve sleep quality without side effects11.

 

2. Ashwagandha

This is a widely used adaptogenic herb, which is a fancy term for something that helps lower the levels of stress in the body, or put another way, helps counteract the effects of stress in the body.

It has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety in humans12, and has been shown to reduce insomnia and help sleep quality in rats. It has an added benefit in boosting testosterone and increasing fertility in men13.

It is recommended to take this in the form of ksm-66 at a dose of 450-500mg a few times a day. Use this periodically with breaks (for example, one month on followed by one month off)

 

3. Chamomile

The 8 Best Sleep Supplements That ACTUALLY Work: L-Theanine, Melatonin, Tryptophan And More... (Deep Sleep Optimization, Part 4) - Dr. Michael Van (Michael VanDerschelden)

Chamomile is a great, widely used herbal remedy, especially in the form of chamomile tea.

 

4. Reishi

The 8 Best Sleep Supplements That ACTUALLY Work: L-Theanine, Melatonin, Tryptophan And More... (Deep Sleep Optimization, Part 4) - Dr. Michael Van (Michael VanDerschelden)

Like Ashwagandha, Reishi is an adaptogen. It helps lower stress and promote sleep and relaxation14 15.

 

5. Passion Flower

Helps with anxiety and insomnia without side effects16.

 

 

4. Fish Oil

The 8 Best Sleep Supplements That ACTUALLY Work: L-Theanine, Melatonin, Tryptophan And More... (Deep Sleep Optimization, Part 4) - Dr. Michael Van (Michael VanDerschelden)

Fish oil consumption is associated with better sleep quality. In fact, even if you aren’t deficient in fish oil because you include fatty fish in the diet, extra fish oil supplementation still further improves sleep quality17.

One possible mechanism goes like this: The pineal gland, which produces melatonin, is made up of large amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids. It has been shown in rats that if you are deficient in these essential fatty acids, this can negatively impact your pineal gland and reduce melatonin production, impairing sleep18.

Another mechanism is that sleep deprivation elevates inflammation. Lowering this inflammation with anti-inflammatory omega-3’s from fish oil can offset this and help with breathing difficulties associated with sleep apnea19.

 

 

5. Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid and very important for cell membranes in the brain. Taking this in supplement form is mainly used for supporting memory because it can cross the blood-brain barrier20.

This has also been shown to reduce cortisol production, which is a stress hormone, and speed up physical recovery. For this reason, those of you who exercise a lot or live a high-stress life, it might be a good idea to take this before bed. The effective dose seems to be 400-600mg/day21.

 

 

6. Melatonin

Perhaps the most common natural sleep aid that helps people with sleep quality, increased total sleep time, and the time it takes to fall asleep 22 23.

Most doses in supplements are anywhere between 1-10mg, but this is actually much higher than your what your body produces naturally.

If your circadian rhythms are out of balance, then higher doses can be utilized. However, you don’t need high doses to have positive effects from melatonin supplementation and lower doses can prevent any potential side effects from higher doses like daytime drowsiness, headaches, dizziness, or nausea.

 

 

7. Tryptophan

Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin and melatonin… Just think of what everyone says about that thanksgiving turkey: it is loaded with tryptophan and makes you sleepy. There is some truth to this, as tryptophan is associated with normal sleep and a stable mood 24.

Tryptophan is found in foods like spirulina, whey protein, pumpkin seeds, and meats like turkey, beef, and chicken. Consuming these a few hours before bed can help. Another option is to supplement with 600-1000mg of L-tryptophan at night time.

 

 

What I Do

Now that is a lot of supplements we just discussed! I certainly don’t take all of these regularly, but all of them are backed by research to increase quality. I often get asked what I personally do in terms of supplements in regards to sleep, and what I personally do is this:

  • I always take magnesium and alternate forms pretty regularly. My current magnesium regimen is this:
  • On intense training days and days I feel stressed, I take 600 mg phosphatidylserine
  • Wild Salmon Fish Oil and/or DHA supplement. I always take some type of omega-3 supplement, including krill.
  • Ashwagandha supplement that contains other adaptogenic herbs when I feel stressed or need the calming properties (not every day).
  • The others I talked about I have done and will utilize them periodically if I feel I need additional support.

 

 

• • •

 

 

Summary

You have just learned about some great supplements that have been shown to increase sleep quality.

If you feel like you need additional support besides the previous tips we discussed in the Sleep Optimization Series, give them a try. I find that they really help me relax and wind down at the end of my evening, helping me prepare for a great night sleep. This means, of course, that I am setting myself up for ultimate regeneration and recovery to function at my very best the next day.

Again, these supplements will help you get an optimized, deeper sleep, and as you know this will give you INCREDIBLE energy and mental sharpness during the day.

And in my next articles of this series we will explore what biohacks you can implement in your day to day life, to get the highest-quality sleep ever.

Stay tuned!

 

 

P.S.

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References:
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2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3703169/
3. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs15006-016-9054-7
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5452159/
5. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/glycine
6. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1479-8425.2006.00193.x
7. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1479-8425.2007.00262.x
8. https://www.cell.com/neuron/fulltext/S0896-6273(09)01044-7
9. http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?recordID=JP1998003883
10. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1179/147683008X301513
11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4394901/
12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573577/
13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19789214
14. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874111008981
15. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S009130570700086X
16. https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/stress-anxiety/passionflower-benefits-anti-anxiety-and-insomnia-without-the-side-effects/
17. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1389945715020225
18. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/129/11/2074/4721869
19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3848082/
20. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899900714004523
21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503954/
22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4973490/
23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3656905/
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