Sleep, oxygen, water and food: 4 essential resources to human existence
In my previous post, I outlined in specific detail why sleep is too important to skimp out on. Even more so if you have any fitness goals or health improvement aspirations!
For a full outline of sleep’s importance and 5 effortlessly applicable and natural ways to enhance your sleep, check out this post: Click here
For many, just the formation of better habits (such as the ones outlined in my previous post) can yield vast improvements in sleep quality. Progress is often gradual, although sometimes monumental improvements can be seen.
Now, if you’re someone who has been suffering at the hands of poor sleep for a considerable period of time, you may feel inclined to pursue a more aggressive means of sleep enhancement.
Allow me to bring to your attention – 5 easily accessible supplements that are proven sleep aids. It’s not just science that supports their effectiveness, but also my own personal experience.
Also, many of the following supplements aren’t restricted to solely the benefit of sleep. Many of these are multi-mineral providers and overall health boosters.
In short, these supplements can benefit everyone who uses them in a variety of ways!
5 supplements for better sleep:
Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in our bodies. It is involved in over 300 bodily functions! It is also heavily involved with the contraction of muscles – so any hard training individual is definitely selling themselves short if they aren’t dosing Magnesium adequately!
Magnesium is also a huge influence on insulin sensitivity, insulin sensitivity is a profound marker for overall health. If your insulin sensitivity is compromised, rest assured your health will be too. An insulin sensitive state is the opposite of diabetes. Insulin control and regulation is crucial to building muscle and losing fat (overall body composition improvement)
Dosage: Ideal doses vary dependant on age, size and activity. The older you are, the more magnesium you will require. By the same token, the more active you are (particularly those who train hard/heavy) the more you will require as you’re depleting magnesium during all the physical activity in the form of muscular contraction.
I would recommend 400 mg MINIMUM to everyone. If you’re an active individual training hard, multiple times per week, then that number will be greater. More in the 500-800 mg per day range.
Obviously those who are clinically deficient in magnesium may well need to start a cycle of super doses (in order to get their levels sufficient) – in these cases doses of 1 gram or more may be necessary.
The best time for consumption of magnesium is either post-workout or pre-bedtime.
It’s worth highlighting that there are various forms of magnesium on the market. One to avoid however is: magnesium oxide. This variation is cheaply made and poorly absorbed by the body! You often find this form in combined supplements such as magnesium and calcium tablets. These two minerals compete for absorption and therefore should be taken separately!
Magnesium citrate is a very good alternative to oxide. All other forms are also very beneficial too.
2. Vitamin D3
Vitamin D3 is another extremely important supplement with an array of benefits. D3 is heavily correlated to bone density and strength – deficiency in vitamin D3 increases your risk of osteoporosis. Also, D3 is bound to proteins in the body and frees up testosterone, thus enhancing your overall testosterone. Overall testosterone is crucial to performance and vitality. Vitamin D3 levels have also been shown to correlate greatly with strength levels and performance capacity.
Doses: Sunlight is a natural method which to obtain vitamin D. However, depending on the climate of your habitat, you may have a very hard time achieving optimal levels whilst relying on sun exposure alone! If you live in Florida or California, your need for vitamin D3 will undoubtedly be less than if you live in northern Russia or Greenland.
2000 iu per day would be a minimum dose (even those graced with regular sun are more deficient than we realise)
5000 iu per day would be a better dosage for the general population (those with limited sun exposure) this is the dose I recommend and have seen numerous people feel better and sleep better on.
Ultimately, seasonal changes will affect dosages and a blood test will truly dictate your ideal dose. Similar to magnesium, if you are shown to be deficient; a dose of 10,000 iu or more may be warranted until blood levels of vitamin D3 are within the target or desired range.
Taurine is an amino acid that has been shown to enhance human sleep and relaxation. There are also studies that show Taurine decreases physical activity in animals. Therefore it is a great supplement to calm overly excited nervous systems that insomniacs often possess.
Taurine raises the neurotransmitter; GABA – a chemical responsible for suppressing anxiety and enhancing calmness.
Taurine is actually present in the energy drink ‘Red Bull’ which seems crazy, but when Taurine is combined with Caffeine (in a a low ratio of taurine versus caffeine) it has been found to prevent sleep and promote wakefulness. Hence ‘Red Bull’ being an “energy” drink.
However Taurine taken without caffeine is extremely beneficial to sleep and overall elimination of anxiety.
Dose: 2 to 3 grams taken before bed is plenty.
4. Valerian (tea or extract)
Valerian is a herb that originates from a medicinal plant. Valerian has sedative properties and has also been shown to increase GABA.
Valerian herbs are most commonly obtained through herbal tea (any good health store should provide a decent range of Valerian tea varieties) results vary regarding the effectiveness of Valerian tea for improved sleep. However, it is recommended to consume Valerian tea for a consistent 2 to 3 weeks before considerable results are produced.
More potent and aggressive methods of Valerian supplementation are via inhalation (aromatherapy) which can be found in most health stores.
The most powerful form of Valerian is in the medium of concentrated liquid extract. The best way to implement Valerian into your lifestyle is to start with a few cups of tea in the evening and allow a 2-3 week period of trial. If results aren’t as desired, consider exploring aromatherapy or supplementing with a concentrated extract.
Melatonin can be obtained via direct supplementation or through the consumption of Tart Cherry juice. Melatonin influences the regulation of your body temperature (as discussed in my last post, this is vital for sleep quality!) which also influences your sleep-wake cycle.
Tart cherry juice contains phyto-chemicals that can reduce inflammation and encourage greater production of melatonin within the body. Drinking Tart cherry juice prior to bed can work like magic! (Tastes great too!)
Melatonin is a commonly used supplement, especially by hard trainers and the sleep deprived. Doses in the range of 0.5 grams to as high as 5 grams will go a long way towards eliminating insomnia and encouraging deep and restful sleep.
5 great supplements that are………
- Not too expensive
- Beneficial to overall health in addition to their sleep benefits
Magnesium and vitamin D3 should be staples of everyone’s supplementation. They offer too wide a spectrum of health boosting qualities to be forgotten!
For extremely fast and efficient results, combining all the outlined supplements above would be extremely powerful!
Although as I always promote; progress progressively
Start with the minimum guided dose and become a student of your body, assess how you feel, how much of a benefit each addition or adjustment is providing and alter accordingly!
If results are too prominent, reduce the dose(s)
If they are lacking, increase the dosage(s) incrementally
Abusing your body’s natural requirements of sleep WILL come back to get you…….guaranteed.
Respect the importance of sleep and your body will respect your efforts in return through improved health and life quality.
The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.