Sleep, glorious sleep! ♪♪
Who here has a love-hate relationship with sleep?
You’d love to get some sleep, but you hate the quality of your sleep.
You might struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep, or experience light unrefreshing sleep.
What we want is deep refreshing rejuvenating sleep that feels like a clear crisp morning breeze brushing against our face. That would make you very happy and content wouldn’t it?
I want to discuss with you how to achieve that high quality of sleep.
In this article, I want to elaborate on how sleep works, the hormones and neurotransmitters involved in sleep, devices you can use to improve sleep and lastly, a few supplements you can try out.
At the end, I’ll also discuss a little about sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome so hang in there.
How sleep cycles work
There are two main stages of sleep, REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM (NREM) sleep. NREM consists of 3 stages, each with increasing “intensity” or depth so to speak.
REM sleep is similar to being awake, but with total body muscle paralysis (except for the extraocular muscles). This paralysis is thought to be a mechanism to prevent you from reacting physically from dreams so that you don’t accidentally punch someone in your sleep.
You have mostly alpha and theta brain waves in the REM phase and this is where most of the dreaming and lucid dreams happen. Weed, which suppresses dreaming, reduces REM sleep. REM sleep is also called paradoxical sleep because it’s so similar to being awake.
During REM sleep excitatory neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, acetylcholine and histamine are elevated, which are associated with dreaming, memory consolidation, learning and creativity.
NREM sleep used to consist of 4 phases, but now it’s only 3 phases, as they “fused” stage 3 and 4.
Stage 1 is very light sleep where you’re basically nodding off but can be awoken easily. This phase lasts about 10 minutes. Here you experience brain waves between alpha, beta and gamma. You also experience alpha waves when you are daydreaming or in light meditation.
Stage 2 is a little deeper where you’re not awakened as fast, but you can still be awakened. Brain waves during this phase is mainly in the theta wave range and here you also experience sleep spindles (short bursts of brain activity in the region of 12-14 Hz, lasting maybe half a second each, also known as “sigma” waves) and K-complexes (short negative high voltage peaks, followed by a slower positive complex, and then a final negative peak, with each complex lasting 1-2 minutes). This aids in sleep-based memory consolidation and information processing. Stage 2 lasts approximately 10 to 25 minutes in the initial cycle of sleep but progresses to consume about 50% of the total sleep cycle later in the night.
Stage 3 is deep sleep or slow-wave sleep (SWS), which lasts 20-40min initially, where you experience delta brain waves. Getting enough of this phase is very rejuvenating. It’s during this phase where sleepwalking and sleeptalking can occur. This is also the phase where most of the growth hormone is released, muscle and joint repair take place and it’s very difficult to awake you. If you are awoken, you feel very groggy and need about 30-60 minutes to fully wake up.
This is also why taking a mid-day nap should be short else you go into deep sleep and experience delta brain waves and when you awake, you feel groggy and the day feels wasted.
Each sleep cycle is about 60-120 minutes and occurs 4-6 times per night. Total awake time should be 1-5%, light sleep at around 50-55%, deep sleep at 15-20% and REM sleep at 20-25%.
NREM sleep usually occurs in the greatest quantities during the first hours of sleep, whereas REM sleep increases during the later hours of sleep.
So let me diss out a few benefits of why we want proper sleep:
- The brain clears out waste when you sleep
- Neurogenesis & memory consolidation (R)
- Muscle repair and just repair all over
- Strengthen the immune system. Sleep deprivation leads to a greater risk of viral infections.
- Reduces oxidative stress. Poor sleep and sleep apnea causes oxidative stress
- Repletion of brain glycogen stores during non-REM sleep
- Probabilistic learning during REM sleep (R)
- Bad sleep leads to less muscle gain, more muscle loss and less fat loss and actually more fat gain
- Optimal androgen production
- Stress resilience
- Maximize strength gains
- Bad sleep lead to reduced accuracy and reduced skill gains
- Bad sleep leads to a greater chance of injury
But then again there is a U-curve. Either too little or too much can be problematic and these people have an average higher mortality rate and greater incidences of myocardial infarction and type 2 diabetes mellitus (R).
According to research, there are 3 sleep types, but according to Dr Michael Breus, who has worked with insomniac and sleep patients for over 15 years now, claims, according to his research and experience, that there are 4 types. Check out his book, Power of When, to learn more of this and check out his questionnaire to see which type you are.
If you don’t feel very tired before bed, like to go to sleep a little later and get up a little later than others, it might simply be your physiology. But check out the book above for more insight into this.
Now let’s discuss what we can do to sleep better. I’m first going to discuss neurotransmitters and how to modulate them, lifestyle hacks and devices you can use and lastly, which supplements are good for sleep.
Let’s go!! (but not to bed just yet)
Neurotransmitter & Hormones that influence sleep
Neurotransmitters and hormones play a major role in regulating sleep. The brain is never fully asleep/dead/shut off during sleep. Certain parts remain active while others shut off. The active parts release neurotransmitters during those phases. For example GABA, adenosine and glycine are active during deep sleep while histamine, orexin, acetylcholine, glutamate, serotonin and dopamine are active during REM sleep. Elevated acetylcholine, glutamate, histamine, etc., during deep sleep will disrupt deep sleep, so you want them under control.
Thyroid and sleep quality
Thyroid is mostly known for being stimulating right? But it’s also very important for proper sleep.
Slow wave sleep/deep sleep is reduced in patients with hypothyroidism in comparison to normal controls and taking thyroid restores proper deep sleep. It’s best to take thyroid in the morning and afternoon if needed, and preferably not before bed as it might be too stimulating (R).
In turn, sleep deprivation reduces thyroid hormones as well as the pulsatile release of GH that normally occurs during NREM sleep.
If you don’t want to use thyroid, start with natural ways to improve thyroid function, such as avoiding halogens (such as fluoride, bromide and chlorine), avoiding excess goitrogenic foods, avoiding cosmetics and environmental plastics and endocrine disruptors, boosting DHT, etc.
Leptin and ghrelin for satiety during sleep
Leptin is released from fat cells when the body is in a fed state and promotes satiety.
Leptin also speeds up the metabolism, increases thyroid hormones, androgens, etc. However, people tend to be resistant to leptin so time would be best spent improving leptin sensitivity instead of boosting leptin levels.
Narcoleptics who have fragmented sleep, abnormal rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), have reduced leptin concentration and loss of the nocturnal acrophase.
Ghrelin, on the other hand, is the hunger hormone that’s released when you haven’t eaten in a while and is involved in stimulating the release of growth hormone during deep sleep. Ghrelin levels rise between 0100 h and 0300 h during sleep and injecting ghrelin increases non-REM sleep in humans (R). Ghrelin mimetics, such as MK677, appear to be effective at promoting sleep (R).
Sleep deprivation lowers leptin and increases ghrelin during the day, but leads to a reduced level of ghrelin during the night, resulting in reduced GH release during deep sleep (R). Insomniac also have reduced ghrelin levels (R). This can cause you to be excessively hungry and tired during the day, while being unable to enter the coveted refreshing and rejuvenating deep sleep.
The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, as the name suggests, starts at the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus secretes CRH, which stimulates the pituitary to release ACTH, which stimulates the adrenals to release cortisol.
You know when you suddenly start feeling really hot, sweaty, uncomfortable, out-raged (and you might fly off the handle at anything), agitated and wired out of nowhere at night time? That is cortisol. Out of nowhere, you start to feel really hot and mad.
Cortisol increases ghrelin (R) and ghrelin increases cortisol and aldosterone (R), which makes you feel wired and hungry in a feed-forward loop. Enjoying a glass of milk with honey/maple syrup should immediately help calm you down.
Cortisol also stimulates leptin release but also promotes leptin resistance and leptin and cortisol are inversely related (R). Destressing is majorly important when it comes to overall health and proper sleep.
Last but not least, CRH is highly inflammatory and inflammatory cytokines disrupt sleep and reduces stage 3 deep sleep and increases stage 2, lighter sleep (R, R).
A few ways to keep cortisol low is to use adaptogens, improve insulin sensitivity, avoid things that might trigger you and make sure your belly is full 2-4 hours before bed.
Histamine is mostly known for being involved in allergies, but few know that it’s also stimulating. That is why anti-histamines causes drowsiness often accompanied by the munchies.
Histamine and thyroid are inversely correlated and the more thyroid you have, the lower your histamine should be. If that is not the case, you might have too little copper, which is involved in breaking the histamine down.
Estrogen, CRH and serotonin promote the release of histamine, which could keep you up at night. Vitamin D, calcium, lemongrass oil and vitamin C can help lower histamine.
Acetylcholine promotes wakefulness and REM and inhibits SWS (R). Taking choline supplements might keep you up at night. Acetylcholine antagonists, such as cyproheptadine promotes sleep, but can also cause fatigue and grogginess.
Serotonin – not the sleep hormone
Ever heard of that serotonin promotes sleep? Most definitely.
Have you ever heard that serotonin might disrupt sleep? Most improbable.
But it’s true. Serotonin is stimulating and disrupts sleep.
Form my article on sleep and the metabolism:
“Acute REM sleep behaviour disorder can be induced by the use of antidepressants, especially serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). Overall, serotonin promotes the wake state and inhibits REM sleep (R).
Sedating anti-depressants on the other hand, like mirtazapine, promote sleep, but if you look at its mechanism of action, it’s anti-cholinergic, anti-histaminergic, anti-adrenergic, and it doesn’t affect serotonin levels itself; it’s actually an antagonist on the 5-HT2A and 2C receptors.
Serotonin receptor 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C promotes the release of glutamate and cortisol respectively; both of which promote the wake state.
If you still find this hard to believe, serotonin antagonists, such as cyproheptadine, mirtazapine, ritanserin, ketanserin, sertindole, etc, promote better sleep (R, R).”
Serotonergic neurons fire most actively during wakefulness, decrease their activity rate during non-rapid eye movement sleep (non-REMS) and fall silent during rapid eye movement sleep (REMS) (R).
Injections of ritanserin and ketanserin, possessing 5-HT2A/2C receptor antagonist properties, induced a significant increase in SWS and a reduction of both REMS and wakefulness in rats (R). If you’re experiencing too much dreaming, more like unpleasant dreams/nightmares, and it’s disrupting sleep quality, it might be serotonin excess (R).
So how could serotonin promote sleep? By mainly converting to melatonin.
GABA for proper deep sleep
GABA, a major inhibitory neurotransmitter, promotes proper sleep. GABA agonists, such as benzos are heavily prescribed for sleep disorders, but they come with issues of their own, such as tolerance and subsequent anxiety, jitters, nervousness, anti-social tendencies, etc.
GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) is a safe precursor to GABA and can greatly aid in relaxation and sleep (R). Tolerance doesn’t seem to build based on many antidotes, so you can probably use it every night. Your doctor can prescribe you GHB for sleep issues and then just follow the instructions on the label. A good dose is between 2-3g before bed.
Natural GABA agonists, such as taurine, allopregnanolone, lemongrass, valerian root, thymol, wild jujube, theanine, skullcap, etc., are much safer alternatives.
Adenosine for shutting off
Adenosine is another inhibitory compound that activates the adenosine receptors (which then promotes drowsiness and regulates NREM sleep), hence the anti-fatigue mechanism of caffeine.
It’s routinely advised to avoid caffeine before bed because it could keep you up as it blocks adenosine and inhibits GABA.
A few simple ways to boost adenosine is the avoid caffeine before bed (ofc) and use niacin (not niacinamide). Research found that using niacin before bed will boost adenosine and promote better sleep. Use niacinamide in the morning and even in the afternoon and use niacin before bed.
But if you feel that caffeine doesn’t interfere with your sleep or if your Oura ring proofs it doesn’t affect sleep quality then there is no need to avoid it.
This effect is seen in coffee-holics, where the adenosine receptors become upregulated, which neutralizes the effect of the adenosine receptor blocking effect of caffeine. So when this happens, coffee might not even interfere with sleep.
MCH is another interesting hypothalamic peptide that’s involved in sleep. It increases deep sleep depth, but shortens its latency and increases REM sleep duration. Inhibiting it significantly prolongs deep sleep and shortens REM sleep (R, R, R).
There are MCH injectable peptides (Melanotan II which is a synthetic version of melanocyte stimulating hormone) that can promote (REM) sleep and give you a nice tan without even getting in the sun, but it has a side effect of giving you outrageous boners that last for hours. Apparently, it can even be painful boners and keep you up at night, so use with discretion and caution.
Glutamate is another excitatory neurotransmitter that should be elevated during the day and during REM sleep. Indiscriminately elevated glutamate will disrupt proper sleep, causing your brain to feel as if it’s flying around in a blender at light speed. When you can’t shut off your thoughts and keep worrying and being anxious…that’s glutamate.
The major stimulators of glutamate are estrogen, EMF, low thyroid (low ATP levels), quinolinic acid (from the kynurenine pathway) and low magnesium and zinc.
A few simple tricks you can do is to turn the wifi off at night, shut off your house’s/apartment’s power at the main switch before bed and take magnesium, zinc and theanine. This should help to lower glutamate and block the NMDA receptor.
Noradrenaline and adrenaline are stress hormones
Stress (all perceived stress), hypoglycemia, fasting and hypothyroidism will increase catecholamines, such as noradrenaline and adrenaline.
Elevated catecholamines disrupt sleep and they should be low during sleep. People that struggle to fall asleep, struggle to stay asleep and wake frequently, have elevated catecholamines. They have racing thoughts, hot flushes, night terrors/nightmares (the opposite is “day-stallions”; jk), anxiety, worry and restlessness.
Prazosin, an alpha-1 adrenoreceptor antagonist, is able to reduce nightmares and sleep disturbance in people with PTSD (R). Doses of 250mcg to 1mg should work great, but higher doses can also be used.
They tend to have low appetite during the day but then pitch a tent by the fridge during the night.
Light sleepers like these will benefit from lowering copper (excess copper converts dopamine to noradrenaline), eating more during the day, enjoying something salty and sweet before bed, avoiding anything stimulatory before bed, using blue light blocker glasses and red light filters, planning, destressing, stimulating the (Los?) vagus nerve and getting lots of sunlight in the morning.
Helpful supplements to lower adrenaline include salt, vitamin C, sugar (not a supplement), inosine, taurine, glycine, zinc, magnesium and Rhodiola Rosea.
Glycine, similar to GABA, acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Glycine can increase the release of GABA, block glutamate receptors and also inhibit the activity of orexin (a stimulatory neuropeptide) neurons directly and indirectly.
Research shows that taking 3-5g of glycine before bed can aid in dropping body temperatures and promoting proper REM and NREM sleep. Some people actually find glycine stimulating and will benefit from increasing potassium and magnesium.
Orexin is a stimulatory neuropeptide that’s involved in arousal, wakefulness and appetite. Orexin should be high during the day, as it speeds up the metabolism, and low during the night. Reducing orexin at night promotes deep sleep (R).
Orexin promotes wakefulness by sensitizes NMDA signalling and stimulating the noradrenergic, dopaminergic, histaminergic and glutaminergic neurons.
Stress (CRH) (R), TRH (hypothyroidism) (R), arginine-vasopressin (R) noradrenaline, and glutamate increases orexin.
Alkalinity (sodium bicarbonate) (R), GABA, adenosine (R), dopamine (D2 activation), alpha2-adrenergic agonists (such as clonidine, which lower noradrenaline and adrenaline) and 5-HT1A receptors agonists (such as methylene blue and zinc) can also lower orexin and improve sleep (R).
The kynurenine pathway is a tryptophan catabolizing pathway. This pathway uses about 95% of all the tryptophan in the body. The end product of this pathway is NAD+, and along the way, it creates neuroactive compounds, such as 3-hydroxykynurenine (3HK) and quinolinic acid (QA) (which are NMDA receptor agonists and are excitatory and neurotoxic) and also kynurenic acid (KA), which is an NMDA receptor antagonist and is neuroprotective.
Research found that people with low KA and/or high QA are prone to depression, anxiety and suicidality.
The pathway starts with the enzyme indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase (IDO), which is activated by inflammation and endotoxins and this leads to a buildup of QA, and not KA, because inflammation also inhibits the enzyme that creates KA.
QA is elevated in insomniacs, either because of the overactivation of the kynurenine pathway or due to a buildup of QA.
QA is converted to NAD+ by the enzyme quinolinate phosphoribosyl transferase (QPRT). QPRT uses magnesium as a cofactor, and can lower QA and increase NAD+ and promote proper sleep. It’s a win win.
Excess copper, zinc and especially iron inhibits QPRT and can increase QA, lower NAD+ and cause excitotoxic damage (R).
Under inflammatory conditions, vitamin B2, B6, Cu and zinc can inhibit excess activation of the kynurenine pathway, whereas excess iron and inflammation promote it.
If you have insomnia, it might be beneficial to test for iron, copper, zinc and red blood cell magnesium.
High dose magnesium (2g of magnesium threonate, taurate, lysinate, glycinate and malate blend) and iron chelators might be very beneficial for promoting proper sleep.
But have your iron tested before trying to lower it as iron is needed for this pathway. Too little iron, zinc, copper, vitamin B2 and B6 and you will have reduced NAD+ synthesis through this pathway.
Here I will discuss sleep hygiene and a few life hacks that you can use to ease your mind and help lull you into peaceful rest, like sinking away in quicksand to be engulfed in darkness as if hovering in a Meditation Isolation Chamber.
You’ve probably heard this all before so I will not spend too much time on it.
Make sure your room is dark, cool and quiet.
If not, use blackout curtains, or if you want to be cheap, tape your window closed with boxes. You might look like a country bumkin, but who cares right? Sleep is more important.
The ideal room temperature for proper sleep in 64-68F. If you don’t have an AC, use a fan. The fan can then also act as a white noise generator to block out sound.
If you can’t have your room soundproof, use a white noise machine, a white noise app on your phone or sleep with wax earplugs which won’t hurt your ears.
Write things down. Take your thoughts that are ricocheting around your brain like flubber and write them down.
You’ll find that once all that gobbeldy gook is structured on a piece of paper, the monsters are transformed to easy to complete tasks and you can properly relax before going to sleep.
Take a warm bath. A warm bath can be very relaxing, but it can also boost your temps which could make it hard to fall asleep, so do it about 1 hour or more before bed.
A neat little trick to enhance the effect is to add in some Epsom salt. To top that off, you can shine some near-infrared light on yourself which soaking in the Epsom salt bath, to absorb even more magnesium.
Exercise. Do some form of low-intensity exercise early in the day. Something like yoga, strolling, relaxed swimming, a leisurely ride on the bike or something similar.
Being active early in the day can help you fall asleep at night. It can also help to get the blood flowing and the juices moving to get you ready for work for the day.
Do your heavy training later in the day, but no more than 3-4 hours before bed as then it might also keep you up.
You can do light activity before bed as well, such as smashing your gut on a basketball, rolling spasms out on a golf ball, doing yoga, walking in nature as the sun goes down, etc.
Essential oils (EOs). EOs are extracts from flowers, leaves, bark, etc., and contains many different compounds that can change your physiology.
Almost all EOs have a calming effect, but lavender is one of the most commonly known ones.
I’d say proceed with caution with this one as certain EOs, specifically lavender and tea tree, are highly estrogenic and might contribute to gyno and other estrogenic symptoms.
An effective way to use essential oils is to diffuse them into the air with a vaporizer such as the Da Buddha.
Eat carbs before bed, but not too close. A high carbohydrate meal 4 hours before bed promotes sleep, but not when eaten 1 hour before bed (R). I have found that if I eat my last big meal 2 hours before bed I sleep great, but if I eat it 1 hour or less before bed it negatively impacts my sleep.
A high carb dinner can speed up sleep onset and increase stage 3 NREM sleep. Carb oxidation is the highest during REM sleep when most of the memory reconsolidation takes place (R). A low carb diet increases sleep onset and reduce REM sleep.
Eat protein. A high protein diet can improve sleep and increase sleep duration. This might be especially important for those that can’t sleep very long.
If you’re prone to overheating from meat or starches like me, just take a cold shower afterwards as that thermogenic effect/pesky “meat sweats” might mess with your sleep.
Shellfish, such as oysters, which is rich in zinc and taurine, is also able to promote sleep (R).
Don’t drink alcohol. Before you just scroll away, hear me out. Many people drink alcohol to help them sleep and it would appear that it does. But if you track your sleep quality with an Oura ring you’ll notice that your sleep quality is significantly disrupted (R).
Alcohol consumption has been associated with poorer sleep quality and quantity, reduced REM sleep and increased sleep disturbance in the second half of the sleep bout (R).
Alcohol users have less melatonin and more gut permeability (R), which leads to more inflammation and more sleep issue as time goes by.
Half a glass of red/white wine with dinner is still fine, but keep it in moderation.
Have some milk. Cow’s milk has traditionally been considered a sleep-promoting beverage. Interestingly, night time milk has 10 times more melatonin than day time milk (R).
But apart from the extra melatonin, many still report that they sleep better when they have some milk with honey/maple syrup and gelatin before bed. This is most likely because milk is rich in nutrients, such as calcium and potassium, which can aid in sleep (R).
If you can’t tolerate cows milk, try goat or camel milk.
Avoid EMF and blue light about 1 hour or more before bed. This might be impossible for some, but then just take magnesium and zinc to mitigate the damages.
EMF, dirty electricity and blue light reduce melatonin and can disrupt sleep quality. You don’t have to take a lot of melatonin, but even as little as 0.3mg would suffice.
Eat a fruit or have honey/maple/date syrup. Sweetness can induce sleep (R). Not only is sweetness good for you, but more specific sweet fruits.
Kiwi and tart cherries are able to improve sleep. Just 2 kiwis before bed or 1 cup of tart cherry juice is good enough.
Other fruits such as banana, pineapple, coffee bean (not a fruit, I know), goji, oranges, etc., are able to increase melatonin and promote sleep (R).
Have some fibre. Good fibre comes from fruit, cocoa powder or veggies. The fibre content doesn’t have to be before bed, but during the day. Higher fibre intake is associated with more stage 3 deep sleep and less time spent in stage 1 sleep.
Lower endotoxins. Endotoxins, medically known as lipopolysaccharides, are created by gram-negative bacteria and when absorbed in the gut can promote inflammation and wreak havoc in the body. Although endotoxins can promote sleepiness by activated iNOS, it prevents deep sleep by increasing quinolinic acid (an NMDA receptor agonist) (R).
Furthermore, sleep deprivation increase iNOS, which leads to neurodegeneration, oxidative stress, hypertension, inflammation, cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders, etc (R).
A gut-irritating meal that produces endotoxins can cause elevations in temps/slight fever and inflammation, which can keep you up at night (R).
Sleep inducing devices
A few devices that might help with sleep is PEMF devices and your cellphone.
PEMF devices send out pulsed electromagnetic frequencies that are able to change your physiology. These PEMF devices that aid in sleep sends out delta waves into the body.
Remember, delta waves predominate in deep sleep, so getting exposed to delta waves can speed up deep sleep latency and depth.
A few cool benefits of the PEMF devices are that it significantly improves mitochondrial function and increases cytochrome-c-oxidase activity and ATP production (R).
Two great PEMF devices are the EarthPulse and the SR1.
The EarthPulse is very potent with a gauss of 750-1100, whereas the SR1 has a 0.05 gauss.
Therefore, put the EarthPulse under your mattress and the SR1 on the middle of your collarbone.
From their (EarthPulse) website:
“You may choose any frequency between 1 Hz and 14.1 Hz. We find no matter which of the 9.6 Hz or lower harmonic settings (4.8 Hz, 3.2 Hz, 2.4 Hz or 1.2 Hz) recovery is super FAST. Speed of recovery at these lower harmonics is indistinguishable from 9.6 Hz. Crazy! You’ll normally wake early due to accelerated recovery, long before the timer runs out and Alert kicks-in.“
Some people might actually find the EarthPulse stimulating, due to its strength, but it works for 95% of the people that try it. You can even set a timer for how long you want to sleep and then the device will increase frequency to 14.4 Hz to help you wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, like jumping in cold water, but without the cold.
The SR1 device automatically turns off after 20minutes and by then you should be out already. If you wake up during the night, just turn it on once more.
Binaural beats create a frequency that can alter your brain state. This only works with earphones, because in order to create the right frequency, for example, they’ll send out a frequency of 500Hz through one earphone and 495Hz out the other, creating a frequency of 5Hz. 5Hz should put you in a theta state.
It’s obviously more complex than that and the frequency is varied all the time (within the right range) so that your brain doesn’t get used to it. BiNaural songs usually start with beta wave frequencies and then lulls your brain into the alpha state, and then progressively takes you into the theta and delta states, mimicking the natural progression of a healthy sleep pattern.
Two good apps to get your BiNaural beats from are Pzizz soundtrack app, which can play tracks in flight mode, and the Sleepstream.
Sleepstream contains over 8 hours of downloadable audio, based around the concept of binaural beats, but also includes calming sounds such as rain, wind, waves, etc.
It might be difficult to use these apps when going to sleep because of the inconvenience of regular earphones, but there are very small earphones that can work perfectly for this, although the only downside is that they don’t cut out noise very well. For that, you can just use wax earplugs or a wrap-around eye mask.
I’m not going to say too much here and only give a small description next to each supplement with the recommended dose. If this is too overwhelming for you and you don’t know where to start, just start with one and see how it works for you. If it doesn’t work after 2-3 weeks, even with a big dose, then it would be good to move onto the next one.
- Phosphatidylserine – lowers cortisol – 100-600mg before bed.
- Theanine – lowers glutamate and increase GABA – 200mg-2g before bed.
- CBD (R) – activation of the endocannabinoid system – 50-150mg before bed
- Uridine (R) – increases GABA – 200-300mg
- Glutathione (R) – 500mg
- Melatonin – 0.3mg is as effective as 1mg and 3mg (R) – take 0.3mg 30min before bed. Time release is best.
- Glycine – decreases in core temperature (R) and blocking glutamate receptors – 5g before bed.
- Taurine – increases GABA – 500mg-2g
- Threonine (R) – 500mg before bed
- Niacin (not niacinamide) (R) – increases adenosine – 500mg before bed.
- Butyrate (R) – lowers inflammation – 500mg any time of the day
- Valerian – increases GABA – 500mg
- Hops – increases GABA, but it’s estrogenic
- Passionflower – increases GABA – 500mg
- Lemon balm (R) – inhibits GABA catabolism and lowers cortisol – 500mg
- IQP-AO-101 (Night Coach™, InQpharm) is a proprietary formulation that contains asparagus extract, saffron extract, lemon balm extract, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc.
- Saffron antagonize 5-HT2C and activate the opioid sigma (1) receptors (R)
- Arginine (R) – promotes deep sleep possibly due to boosting nitric oxide – 2-5g before bed. I’d prefer to boost NO but eating NO rich or anti-oxidant rich food, such as beets, cocoa powder and fruits in general. Too much nitric oxide can be stimulatory and can be very dangerous (R).
- Magnolia bark extract (R) – 500mg
- Tintidikah (R) – increase GABA
- Ashwagandha (R) – 300mg-600mg before bed
- 5-HT1A agonists, such as Spinosin (a C-glycoside flavonoid of semen Ziziphi spinosae (Suanzaoren)), zinc and methylene blue (R).
- 5-HT2A antagonists such as Ritanserin, feverfew, Ginkgo Biloba and Bacopa Monneiri enhance slow-wave sleep (R).
- Grape seed proanthocyanidin extract – aid in the entrainment of circadian rhythm (R) – 2g in the morning
- Vitamin D (R) – 1k-10k IU based on current vitamin D levels.
- Zinc (R) – zinc is an NMDA and non-NMDA receptor antagonist (R, R). According to their results, very short sleepers (<5 h) ingested significantly less zinc than did normal or long sleepers – 22-50mg with dinner.
- Vitamin B2 – 20-100mg daily
- Ornithine (R) – 500mg-5g before bed
- Tulsi (R) – lowers cortisol – 400mg x3 daily
- Pregnenolone (R) – 1mg to 100mg before bed
- DHEA – cortisol antagonist and GABA agonist (due to boosting androsterone) – 5-15mg before bed
- Progesterone (R) – Inhibit cortisol action and activate GABA receptors – 1mg-300mg (most men use between 5-50mg for sleep purposes)
Other sleep disorders
Sleep apnea is a bugger of its own. Sleep apnea causes oxidative stress, inflammation, fatty live, blood sugar dysregulation, food cravings, poor recovery, mental side effects, etc. It can literally lead to disease.
Using an CPAP mask/device can actually reverse a lot of the damages caused by sleep apnea. But if you’re not up for CPAP, which I also don’t think is the best solution, you can try:
- zinc, iron, selenium, copper, manganese, glycine, taurine and curcumin to mitigate the damages done by sleep apnea.
- Increasing glutathione. Pulmonary function significantly and dramatically improves by providing glutathione precursors (R).
- 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C antagonists, such as Retanserin can reduce sleep apnea (R)
- Vitamin D helps with sleep apnea (R)
- Blocking 5-HT3 with ginger can be helpful (R). Ondansetron is also a 5-HT3 antagonist and is more potent than ginger, so that’s also a viable option. 2-8mg doses should work perfectly for sleep purposes.
- Increasing carbon dioxide. Bicarbonate in the blood is elevated in sleep apnea (R) and carbonic anhydrase (which converts CO2 to bicarb) is elevated (R). Acetazolamide, a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor, restores breathing in sleep apnea (R). High doses of vitamin B1, 600mg+, is also able to inhibit carbonic anhydrase and promote better breathing and sleep.
- Inhibiting the sympathetic nervous system by stimulating the vagus nerve (R)
My theory of sleep apnea is that serotonin is elevated. Serotonin increases sensitivity to CO2 and stimulates breathing. A high serotonin state could contribute to hyperventilation and a drop in CO2. This can cause breathing to stop to prevent CO2 from dropping too low and to increase CO2 again. Once CO2 is high enough, it causes gasping and accelerated breathing. So “elevated” CO2 is not the culprit, its elevated serotonin that causes rapid loss of CO2.
Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
Folate, iron, magnesium, dopamine and possibly a zinc deficiency can cause restless leg syndrome (R, R, R).
People with RLS also experience more oxidative stress, so a little methylene blue, CoQ10, vitamin K2 and vitamin C might be very helpful to lower free radicals and prevent RLS (R).
Near-infrared light might also be helpful, most likely because it promotes mitochondrial function and lowers oxidative stress (R).
Get my free personal routine that I use to induce a beautiful night’s rest every time.
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2 thoughts on “How to Optimize Sleep for better Life Performance”
nice information! Tip #6 Eat carbs before bed. what type of carbs should i eat rice potato buckwheat fruits? I wake up after 4-5 hours of sleeping everyday since i was kid.. my longest is around 6 hours! how i can fix this?
Any kind of carb should work really. Just stick to carbs that digest well and doesn’t cause gut irritation.
There is a lot of things that might keep you up at night. Vitamin B2 has helped me greatly with staying asleep. Zinc and manganese can also be beneficial.
But it all comes down to what you might be deficient in in terms of vitamins and minerals. Stress depletes vitamin B1, B2 and B3 rapidly, so those can be very helpful.