One of the most common questions I’m asked is, “What supplement can I take to sleep better?” This is a difficult question to answer because there are many types of sleep disorders and specific supplements to target each type of insomnia. Before giving my recommendations on sleep supplements, let’s take a closer look at the problem.
In a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation in 2002, it was found that 15 percent of the adult Americans they surveyed got less than six hours of sleep on weekdays, compared to 12 percent in 1998. And 39 percent were getting less than seven hours of sleep on the weekdays, versus 35 percent in 1991. So the problem is getting worse. But sleep disorders go beyond just looking at the number of hours a person sleeps.
I regard “insomnia” as a general term describing the inability to sleep well. One person may have a type of insomnia where they have difficulty getting to sleep, whereas another may get to sleep easily but frequently wake up in the middle of the night. Then there are those who have difficulty getting to sleep and also staying asleep. There is also insomnia that can be characterized by having unrestful sleep, or even simply waking up earlier than your normal routine. Having a Biosignature assessment performed is a smart first step in dealing with sleep disorders as it will help determine the root cause of a person’s specific sleep problem.
Insomnia is a serious issue. For one, it affects your ability to function effectively during the day. Whether you are an athlete trying to continually improve your performance, a student trying to master your assignments, or a secretary trying to do the best job possible, you need to sleep well. Further, in a survey of 1.1 million Americans by the American Cancer Society, it was found that those who slept less than six hours per night high had significantly higher mortality rates than those who sleep approximately seven hours. And don’t just think that sleeping pills will resolve the problem, as these drugs have side effects and also may be associated with an increased mortality rate.
Before finally answering the question as to what are the best supplements for resolving sleep disorders, I need to emphasize that for best results, you should uses several approaches to dealing with insomnia. Some of these methods are very simple. For example, sleeping in an environment as dark as possible and making certain to wake up at the same time every morning, even if you go to bed later than normal. For details about two very effective natural sleep strategies, check out the following article: Two Great Mindful Strategies To Induce Deep Sleep
If these simple sleep strategies are not effective, or at least not as effective as you would like, then I suggest you keep using them but start trying supplementation.
The Three Most Important Sleep Supplements
After considerable study and feedback from my personal clients and the clients of my PICP coaches, I have found three supplements that produce the most dramatic results. Here they are:
Über-inositol. Über-inositol is a great supplement to fight stress. It is a mixture of inositol and magnesium glycinate.
Inositol is a form of sugar found in citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerines and grapefruits; in nuts and seeds; wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, veal, pork, liver, brown rice, wheat bran, oat flakes, nuts, vegetables, cantaloupe, raisins and bananas. It has been classified as a member of the vitamin B complex, and is often referred to as B8, but it is not technically a vitamin.
One of inositol’s main functions is to help to maintain proper electrical energy and nutrient transfer across the cell membrane. It also acts as a lipotropic, a nutrient that converts fats into other useful products. Inositol has been shown to build healthy cell membranes, which facilitate nerve impulses.
Magnesium glycinate is a magnesium salt that is included in this formula because it supports the nervous system. Magnesium glycinate is easily absorbed because it is bound to the amino acid glycine, and it is gentler on the stomach and bowels than other forms of magnesium.
ÜberMag. Magnesium supplementation improves sleep quantity and quality in most individuals.
Magnesium is the fourth-most abundant mineral in the body, with approximately 66 percent of it found in bone and 33 percent in skeletal and cardiac muscle. It is absorbed in the small intestine and excreted through the kidneys. Magnesium is involved in 300 essential biochemical reactions in the body, ranging from ATP production to protein synthesis, so it is obviously important for optimal athletic performance and a high quality of life.
Magnesium is essential for the detoxification of cortisol, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands. The more stress you have (including training) you more cortisol you produce. High cortisol levels affect sleep quality so that even though they get eight hours or more of sleep, they will wake up exhausted.
The human nervous system is sent into sympathetic overdrive when it is magnesium deficient; and when the nervous system is too jacked up, it is hard to get restful sleep. The lack of sleep will also contribute to overtraining. Several studies have pointed out that a lack of magnesium can alter electrical activity in the brain, causing agitated sleep and frequent awakenings. In a study from England, there was a strong association for more disturbed and excitable patients to have abnormal (either high or low) magnesium levels. The authors advanced that theory that the patients who seemed most disturbed may have some abnormality of magnesium metabolism. Unfortunately, it is doubtful that you are getting enough of this important mineral if you are not using a supplement.
Before the turn of the millennium most Americans were getting enough magnesium from their diets, but now the literature suggests that between 54 percent and 75 percent of the general population is magnesium deficient. Similar patterns of deficiency have been reported in the Western world. A survey conducted in France in the mid-1990s found that 72 percent of men and 77 percent of women obtained less than the RDA of magnesium from their diets.
It’s important to consider that one’s activity level (especially resistance training) increases magnesium requirements and that the use of certain drugs can adversely affect magnesium levels in the body. For example, thiazide diuretics can cause more magnesium to be excreted in the urine – it also works the other way, as magnesium can interfere with the action of drugs; for example, tetracycline antibiotics have the effect of causing magnesium to bind tetracycline in the gut and thus affect the absorption of tetracycline.
The cheaper forms of magnesium use salts, which are not absorbed well by, or retained in, the tissues. The most absorbable form of minerals are chelates, but there is much more to this issue. You see, most attempts at restoring magnesium to optional levels fail because they use only one type of magnesium, especially magnesium orotate. In ÜberMag and ÜberMag Plus I don’t just use magnesium orotate, but also magnesium taurate, magnesium glycinate and magnesium fumarate. Using four types of magnesium improves absorption because each type of chelate attaches to specific tissues. By the way, the difference between my two magnesium supplements is that ÜberMag Plus contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, which is helpful for those who have trouble falling asleep.
Phosphatidyl Serine. PS, to use the abbreviated term, is one of the brain nutrients you can take, and in fact there are promising studies which suggest that PS supplementation could be of benefit for children with ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder). It can also help those with sleep disorders by helping to lower cortisol and calming down the nervous system.
A phospholipid is a type of lipid contained in cell membranes. These molecules were first discovered in 1847 by Theodore Nicolas Gobley, a French chemist. Gobley’s research was considered pioneering in the field of brain research.
PS helps the nervous system calm down by diminishing sympathetic nervous activity. This important nutrient has been studied for about 50 years and has an outstanding track record in both human and animal studies for nutritionally supporting healthy cognitive function. Results show in a consistent fashion that demonstrate improvements in attention and arousal, verbal fluency, and memory in aging people who are losing mental faculties. By lowering cortisol, this nutrient helps rebalance adrenal glands that are turned on at the wrong time. It is the ideal nutrient for those who cannot fall asleep.
For more information about Über-inositol, ÜberMag, and Phosphatidyl Serine, go to the sleep supplement section of our e-store.There you will find the optimal dosage for each supplement, along with a short video presentation by myself about these products.
A sound sleep is essential for optimal athletic performance, good health, and a long life. If you’re not sleeping soundly, give these natural sleep supplements a try and get the rest you need and deserve!