Lesson 17 of 29
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The Sleep Supplement Stack

Supplements and Herbal Sleep Aids

Removing things vs. Adding them

The place to start when it comes to resetting sleep is by removing things first than impede good sleep, from the caffeine and alcohol to blue light and then adding relaxation in (your breathing practice from this week). However, for those who suffer from more stubborn sleep issues like many of my patients, ‘taking something’ for sleep is often needed.

Whey supplements dont always ‘do anything’

Supplements are the icing on the cake and it’s really important to do all other things we have just learned first. However, they can be a huge helper. One of the issues with over the counter sleep supplements though is that most of them just dont work. This is due to the dose being wrong, the formula being cut with cheap fillers, the wrong part of the plant or subspecies is used, or they are single herb supplements only–which tend not to work as well as specific combos. This is one of the tenets of botanical medicine that herbs work together quite well, especially certain ones and generally you would choose a main herb and then add ‘helper herbs’ onto that. Luckily for most of us who are not expert hebalists, there are many examples of these products that are pre-made.

How to Start-Herbals

You may want to start with very gentle herbs and supplements used in synergy (meaning they help each other work better) combination. My favorite ones tend to be professional grade supplements via a practitioner that offer higher doses of each herbal in the right combination, but for ones you can buy yourself, these are some of the herbs to look for, in some combination together (at least 3 ideally):

  • Passionflower
  • Skullcap
  • Lemon balm (avoid high doses used daily if you have low thyroid as it may lower it further)
  • Valerian (note: in approx 10% of people, it can have the opposite effect and make you feel awake or even ‘wired’ so observe your reaction over the first few days/doses to ensure this is not you. In the majority of people where it is useful, it can take weeks to start working its magic, eg take it for 4-6 weeks, because it acts on our GABA receptors and the effects seem to build up gradually in some people more than others
  • Hops flower

How to Start-Supplements

In addition to the botanicals, the following supplements including amino acids and minerals can also be added, alongside the herbals for a better effect:

  • L theanine-this is an amino acid which helps relaxation
  • Milk Protein Hydrolysate-this is from cows milk and has been shown to aid sleep in animal models
  • 5 HTP-this is an amino acid needed to make serotonin and it may help improve sleep based on some animal models but the research is thin. However some people do find it helps, especially when combined with other sleep ingredients
  • Magnesium Glycinate or threonine — these are well-absorbable forms of magnesium that can help with muscle tension and is considered to support mitochondrial (cell energy) function and many patients report it also helps with anxiety and feeling ‘wound up’ (hello wound up warriors!). When we sleep, the cell membranes in the brain open up a bit to allow more magnesium to flow in, which is why I put magnesium in the ‘sleep support’ supplement category and should be taken before bed. Normally 400-600 mg dose is used, but in some people under medical supervision occasionally more is used but not before checking things like kidney function.
Resilience Clinic