If you’re often irritable and can’t get anything done until you have your first sip of coffee, the quality of your sleep might be the problem.
Many external factors can affect our quality of sleep, including light from our devices, stimulants like caffeine and alcohol, and the temperature of the room we’re sleeping in.
If you’ve tried reducing stimulants and boosting your sleep hygiene but you’re still running on empty, here are some supplements that might just help.
Short for gamma-aminobutyric acid, GABA is a naturally-occurring chemical in the brain that promotes relaxation and sleep. A 2006 study discovered that when taken orally, GABA supplements significantly increased alpha brain waves (the calming, flow-state waves) in participants after 60 minutes. This left them feeling relaxed, less anxious, and in a much better position to get a good night’s sleep.
Melatonin is a hormone that our bodies secrete to signal it’s time to go to sleep, but sometimes we’re just not getting enough of it. Melatonin is widely used by people who experience jet lag and need to adjust to a new time zone, however it can be used to help you fall asleep at home. We recommend talking to a medical professional before using this supplement as there can be side effects with long-term use.
A mineral that helps your muscles to relax, magnesium is commonly used to combat insomnia. It also helps your body to produce more melatonin, and as we’ve seen above, that’s a great precursor to a decent sleep. A 2012 study of magnesium use in elderly participants discovered that supplementation of this powerful mineral improved sleep efficiency, sleep time, and helped with insomnia.
Most commonly linked to building strong bones, we receive vitamin D naturally through exposure to sunlight and consuming oily fish. But did you know that vitamin D can also help you sleep? One study of adults with sleep disorders found that when participants took vitamin D supplements regularly for 8 weeks, they fell asleep faster, slept for longer, and experienced a better quality of sleep than those who received a placebo.
Perhaps the most common and most powerful of the vitamin family, B vitamins (including thiamine, riboflavin, B6 and B12) help to support brain function, energy levels, and cell metabolism. They also aid in preventing infections and supporting our healthy blood cells. Supplementing your diet with B vitamins is a great idea for your overall health, but for sleep, B5, B12 and B9 (folic acid) are the ones you’ll want to target.
5-Hydroxytryptophan or 5-HTP is a naturally occurring amino acid that produces serotonin (the feel-good, mood stabilising hormone). This serotonin is then able to be converted into melatonin, our important sleep hormone. If you suffer from anxiety and sleep disorders, it could be because you have low serotonin levels in your body. That’s where 5-HTP may really help you to relax and drop off to sleep faster.
If you’re looking for a better night’s sleep, try one or two of these supplements and see how you go! Whilst these supplements are generally quite safe, it’s important to consult the advice of a medical professional before you dive in headfirst, especially if you are on other forms of medication.