4 Cheap Minerals to Help You Fall Asleep (and stay that way!)
Lifestyle habits are the main driver for better sleep, but these natural sleep supplements can give you a helping hand.
I'm not talking about sketchy horse tranquilizer-style supplements that will knock you out, instead I just want to help regular, slightly sleep-deprived folks understand there are a few minerals to help you fall asleep - boosting sleep quantity, and stay asleep - boosting sleep quality.
I know I'm preaching to the crowd here, but more (and better) sleep really is the elixir of life.
It improves focus, energy, metabolism, stress levels, and hormonal balance. And with more sleep comes an enhanced ability to lose weight, get in shape and stay motivated to take care of yourself in general.
When we can't sleep our kneejerk reaction is often to reach for hardcore sleeping pills. This is like taking a hammer to crack a nut - you just need a helping hand to fall asleep, and you don't need to be knocked out and end up groggy the next day.
So I'm going to list 4 cheap and natural minerals you can get anywhere - Amazon, ebay, your local store - which are great sleeping pill alternatives.
A quick caveat though - more often than not your inability to fall asleep or stay in deep sleep can be traced back to your daily habits. Better to fix those than rely on any sleep supplement long term.
be active during the day
wind down, relax away from screens before bedtime
stick with a sleep schedule
avoid rich food and alcohol before bedtime
That being said, here are a few minerals to help you feel sleepy at bedtime, and 'supplement' your daily efforts with those healthy sleep habits...
#1 Take Magnesium Before Bed to Fall Asleep Faster
The mineral Magnesium regulates your nervous system and natural melatonin production (so you are mentally and physically calm AND feel sleepy at bedtime.).
All Magnesium compounds aren't necessarily the same - the regular compound in most supplements is Magnesium Oxide which can cause some stomach upsets, so Magnesium Threonate may be preferable (and can help with focus too).
The New Kid On The Block, Magnesium Glycinate, is another great option which I'll mention in #2.
Whatever you go for there are no hard and fast rules about when to take it.
I split my 400mg dose into 2 x 200mg doses at midday and then before bed, but don't overthink it.
Its calming effects on mind and body, coupled with its Melatonin boosting powers make Magnesium my personal go-to everyday natural sleep supplement.
Next... #2 Glycine...
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#2 Try Glycine to Boost Melatonin Production (and feel sleepy)
Glycine is an amino acid that ensures you produce enough of our 'sleepy hormone' Melatonin naturally. This is in contrast to sleeping pills which completely take over Melatonin production from your body, increasing it to unnatural levels.
It also has a calming effect on your brain, helping you clear your mind at bedtime, with studies showing just 3g in water before bedtime can help you fall asleep faster, enhance sleep quality AND reduce grogginess the following day.
2-3g per day is sufficient (more is safe but unnecessary), or you can do what I do, which is to kill 2 birds with one stone by taking Glycine together with Magnesium in the form of Magnesium Glycinate.
Aside from its sleep-boosting effects, Glycine has been proven to help with liver and heart health, just a couple of additional but welcome benefits.
#3 Ashwagandha Reduces Anxiety so You're Chilled Out at Bedtime
Ashwagandha is an 'Adaptogen', meaning it can help the body cope with stress.
It has been shown to reduce Cortisol (your stress hormone), and manage anxiety which can often get in our way of falling asleep when we want to. If you've ever laid awake at 2 am staring at the ceiling, trying to solve your life's problems, you'll know what I mean.
I use just 0.5g per day of the powder, though it's available in capsules too. It helped me reduce my own Cortisol levels by 58% (blood tests 6 months apart) so I can attest to its effectiveness.
More than 1g per day is unnecessary, and can have side effects such as a lack of focus, and feeling a bit 'spaced out' if taken during the daytime, so more is not necessarily better. But a little bit of Ashwagandha is a great addition to a smoothie or a pre-time hot drink to help you fall asleep instead of worrying at bedtime.
#4 Tryptophan/5-HTP Works When Your Day Has Sucked
I’m lumping Tryptophan and 5-HTP together as one is a precursor to the other.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, used in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and mood disorders.
5-HTP is produced when we metabolize Tryptophan and is the precursor to Serotonin, which is then used to synthesize our old friend Melatonin.
5-HTP has none of the problems Tryptophan has with crossing the blood-brain barrier to induce sleepiness, and so it is seen as the ‘better’ of the two.
However, while Magnesium and Glycine help with natural Melatonin production, Tryptophan & 5-HTP do almost too good a job at increasing Melatonin production.
They can deplete dopamine levels when taken long-term, increasing your risk of depression and high stress. As such they’re similar to prescribed sleep meds — they do help you sleep, but shouldn’t be relied upon long term.
I personally have only used it to help with jetlag, to force me to feel sleepier at times my body hasn’t yet adapted to. I know others who use it after particularly stressful days when they fear they won’t be able to switch off come bedtime.
Check Out My Video to Help You Actually Get To Bed At the Right Time!
How to Use These Minerals in Practice to Help You Fall Sleep
You obviously don't need, nor should you take, all 4 of those minerals just to help you fall asleep every night - that's overkill and not sustainable. What I do is this:
For everyday use, I take Magnesium Glycinate 200mg with my midday coffee (that's just how I remember to take it!), and 200mg just before bed. This makes sure my natural Melatonin production is running like a well-oiled machine. Also...
I add a little pinch of Ashwaghanda (0.5-1g) to a protein shake during the day. This helps keep my Cortisol under control, and allows me to deal with the stress of the day - no more mentally trying to solve the world's problems at bedtime!
I find 5-HTP/Tryptophan a little strong for what I need on a daily basis.
I have used it in the past to deal with jetlag, to almost force myself to be sleepier than I am to adjust to time differences faster. And that's how I recommend you use Tryptophan/5-htp, as a one-off after a tough, stressful day when you're struggling to mentally switch off.
But remember all these minerals should 'supplement' your regular daily healthy habits which will help you fall asleep naturally each night. No mineral on earth will help you fall asleep if your lifestyle habits are a complete sh*tshow I'm afraid!