Sleep is an essential biological function that allows your body and mind to reset and recharge. Without enough sleep, your body would have difficulty functioning, mental processing would be slower, and your body's hormonal response would suffer. Insomnia or a disturbance with sleep quality, maintaining sleep, or falling asleep effects nearly 30% of the US population. Studies have shown that some herbal supplements, vitamins, and amino acids, can help reduce the symptoms of insomnia and provide insomnia evidence-based nonpharmacologic alternatives that may improve sleep
What Is Insomnia
Insomnia is defined as a disruption in sleep quality or difficulty in sleep latency, quality of sleep, sleep duration, and frequency of waking up. Approximately 40% of adults with insomnia have used either over-the-counter medication or alcohol to help induce sleep, and approximately one-quarter have used prescription medications at least once
Best Supplements For Insomnia
1. Valerian Root
Valerian is one of the most well studied herbal sleep aids. Evidence suggests that valerian root naturally increases levels of the neurotransmitter gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, blocking signals such as fear, and anxiety experienced from excitatory neurons, contributing to a calming effect in the body.
Several studies have shown that valerian root can improve sleep quality and sleep latency, or the time it takes to fall asleep with a dose ranging between 100-600mg.
An extensive systematic review of randomized, placebo-controlled trials investigated valerian root on improving sleep quality found that most commonly reported outcome reported that, the use of valerian root was found to nearly double sleep latency and sleep quality as compared to placebo groups [R].
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Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone and powerful antioxidant that induces sleep by directing your circadian rhythm. Melatonin can be thought of as an internal bed-time reminder. Melatonin signals your body that it’s time for bed, inducing a sense of relaxation for sleep preparedness. Melatonin is produced by your brain a response to darkness, therefore, when the sun sets melatonin levels begin to rise putting you in a state of quiet wakefulness [R].
Current evidence suggests that melatonin taken before bed, can help you achieve optimal sleep cycles and improve sleep latency, to help you get to bed faster. In fact, a systematic review published in the Journal PLOS One, analyzed 19 different studies and found that melatonin reduced time to get to sleep by an average of 7 minutes and increased overall sleep duration [R].
RELATED ARTICLE 4 Proven Benefits Of Melatonin For Sleep
3. GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid)
GABA is a naturally occurring amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter in your brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which blocks or inhibits certain brain signals in your central nervous system. In fact, 40% of all inhibitory synaptic processing utilizes GABA.
GABA inhibits excitatory neurons, promoting a sense of calmness, relaxation, and anxiolytic effects. When GABA receptors are activated, it also promotes sleep. Clinical evidence suggest that GABA can benefit and improve mood state, sleep quality, reduce anxiety and lower blood pressure. Excessive excitation can lead to insomnia and anxiety, whereas excessive inhibition can lead to sedation and a calm mood state. GABA essentially pumps the brakes to achieve a state of emotional/mental homeostasis. With increased levels of GABA and serotonin, the body also increases the hormone melatonin, resulting in more efficient sleep cycles.
Nearly all proven sleep aids, have a direct mechanism by increasing levels of GABA as well as serotonin and dopamine.
In a systematic review investigating the Effects of Oral Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) Administration on Stress and Sleep in Humans, 14 studies were identified with the inclusion criteria, showed that consistent doses of GABA between 100-300mg can improve sleep latency and the first stages of non-REM sleep, due to beneficial effects on reducing stress and inducing calmness [R].
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Ashwagandha is an ancient anxiolytic and adaptogen used in traditional ayurvedic medicine.
Research shows that ashwagandha may be powerful enough as a proposed alternative to recommended present treatments for insomnia. Constant exposure to blue light, work deadlines, and stress can keep us up at night, disrupting sleep schedules and patterns, leading to adverse effects, irritability, and sub-optimal productivity.
A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, evaluated the pharmacological effects of ashwagandha on sleep. 80 healthy participants were assessed on sleep parameters, such as sleep efficiency, sleep duration, wakefulness, and sleep onset.
In both healthy and insomnia groups, ashwagandha produced a significant improvement in all studied sleep parameters, proving to help sleep quality and manage insomnia [R].
RELATED ARTICLE What Is Ashwagandha?
In a randomized placebo-controlled trial, A total of 60 patients with insomnia and anxiety were randomly divided into two groups: test (n = 40) and placebo (n = 20) in a randomization ratio of 2:1 received either a capsule containing a high concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract 300 mg, and the placebo control was an identical capsule containing starch.
Results concluded that Ashwagandha improves sleep quality and sleep onset latency in patients with insomnia at a dose of 300 mg extract twice daily [R].
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, that is necessary in producing several important molecules to signal sleep. Tryptophan can be converted into a molecule called 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), which is used to make serotonin and melatonin [R].
Once serotonin is produced, it can be converted into melatonin, to produce better sleep-wake cycles. Several studies have shown the impact tryptophan has directly improving sleep by increasing melatonin, improving sleep-wake cycle signaling you went to go to sleep and wake up [R].
RELATED ARTICLE The Science Of Tryptophan For Sleep
Studies have shown that in patients with mild insomnia l-tryptophan can increase sleepiness, improve sleep quality, and decrease sleep latency or time to get to sleep [R].
L-theanine is a non-protein amino acid naturally found in tea leaves most notably green tea; non-protein meaning it has the same structure as an amino acid yet is not considered a building block of proteins. Research indicates that Theanine has anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects, which is the precursor to high-quality sleep.
A study published in Pharmaceutical Biology showed that a mixture of gaba (Gamma- Aminobutyric acid) and l-theanine (100/20mg) showed a decrease in sleep latency (20.7 and 14.9%) and an increase in sleep duration (87.3 and 26.8%) compared to GABA or theanine alone [R]
RELATED ARTICLE The Science Behind L-Theanine For Sleep
Best Supplements For Insomnia: Takeaway
Sleep deprivation and insomnia have serious long-term health implications, with an elevated risk of chronic disease such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and depression, as well as poor quality of life. If you suffer from mild to severe insomnia supplementing with a high dosed natural sleep aid as opposed to prescription medication can induce a calming state to help improve sleep quality, time of sleep, and sleep latency. It’s important to find a sleep supplement that contains several proven sleep aids, not just one single ingredient to produce better quality of sleep and sleep duration, as opposed to one ingredient. Single ingredients for sleep will not produce nor have the same effect as a supplement with several high quality sleep ingredients.
Do you suffer from Insomnia? Looking for the best sleep supplement for insomnia to help you better quality sleep?
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