Article At A Glance:
How well do you look after your sleep?
Sleep is something that is regularly overlooked, and often we’re so laser-focused on optimising our supplemental daily routine, that we can completely disregard supplements for sleep.
Optimising sleep is a major component in fitness and exercise recovery, and if we have an understanding of some basic natural sleep compounds, we can begin to reap the benefits of a good night’s rest.
In this article, I’ve focused on some of the best, and most importantly, simple supplements for sleep, which you can get from most sports and health food stores.
Let’s jump in (and because the market is flooded with supplements for sleep, I have included links to recommended brands and discount codes where relevant).
Magnesium is kind of a biggie when it comes to its use for sleep (and practically everything else in the body).
One key characteristic of magnesium as it pertains to sleep is its ability to increase levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter found in the body that promotes rest and relaxation (Boyle et al., 2017).
Higher levels of GABA allow our body to switch to a more relaxed state, switch our mind off and get a deeper, more restful night’s sleep.
Zinc is actually a completely overlooked mineral when it comes to sleep.
When it comes to sleep, Zinc actually plays a role in regulating various neurotransmitters and neuronal activity in the brain. It’s said that Zinc may actually decrease the uptake of glutamate, an excitatory component when it comes to neuron function that promotes wakefulness and alertness (Cherasse & Urade, 2017).
Studies have shown dietary supplementation of Zinc to improve sleep latency (time falling asleep) and sleep quality compared to placebo, highlighting the value of Zinc in supplements for sleep (Saito et al., 2017).
What’s even better, Zinc is extremely affordable and also an essential component for healthy immune function and a key supplement to have in addiction and early sobriety.
Glycine is an amino acid that helps our body make serotonin, a neurotransmitter that’s commonly associated with mood regulation and depression, but may also assist in sleep.
Do you experience mood dysregulation and depression? Read this article on Bee Propolis: Could This Amazing Supplement Help with Alcohol-Induced Depression?
In vivo studies have demonstrated supplementation of glycine increases serotonin levels (Imtiaz et al., 2018), and having healthy levels of serotonin allows for healthy conversion of melatonin at night.
Melatonin is the body’s sleep-regulating hormone, which is a neurotransmitter in establishing healthy sleep patterns, and glycine can help keep these levels adequate.
Glycine as a sleep supplement may also help us fall asleep faster through its role in regulating core body temperature during the day and night.
Glycine is thought to exert this through hypothermic and vasodilation effects in parts of the brain that regulate the sleep-wake cycle, it’s almost like a reset button for the body’s natural circadian rhythm (Kawai et al., 2015).
When we have low GABA, we tend to have high Glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter that does the complete opposite.
I tend to call this the Seesaw effect of Glutamate and GABA – Article on this here.
More recently though, researchers have discovered GABA-transporter systems in the brain, which actually allow substantial amounts of GABA to cross into the brain and exert its effects (Shyamaladevi et al., 2002).
There are also even more recent studies showing that GABA supplementation may act more on our peripheral nervous system through the gut-brain axis, via primary absorption in the stomach (Cryan & Dinan, 2012).
This research gives us confidence that GABA can be an effective sleep supplement, and as its primary action is to slow nervous system activity, it can help us get to sleep faster and improve our quality of sleep (Hepsomali et al., 2020).
There are so many sleep supplements out there on the market, so this list really gives you a succinct toolkit on some of the common ones that actually work.
Better yet, most of these compounds are fairly affordable and easy to find, and below is a list of common brands I’ve tried to be effective and recommend.
- BioXact Magnesium 30 Australian Made
- ATP Science Z-Mag (use code CLARITY for a 10% discount).
- Fusion Health Zinc Advanced
- Ethical Nutrients Mega Zinc Powder (use code CLARITY for a 10% discount).
- Life Extension Glycine
- Healthwise GABA (use code CLARITY for a 10% discount).
Please note: All affiliate links used help support the comprehensive, in-depth nature of these articles, so please use them!
If you have any other brands for me to try or recommend, reach out.
Clarity is here to help, so please use the resources we offer, and if you have any questions, do reach out.
- Boyle, N., Lawton, C., & Dye, L. (2017). The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 9(5), 429. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9050429
- Cherasse, Y., & Urade, Y. (2017). Dietary Zinc Acts as a Sleep Modulator. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(11), 2334. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18112334
- Cryan, J. F., & Dinan, T. G. (2012). Mind-altering microorganisms: the impact of the gut microbiota on brain and behaviour. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 13(10), 701–712. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn3346
- Hepsomali, P., Groeger, J. A., Nishihira, J., & Scholey, A. (2020). Effects of Oral Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) Administration on Stress and Sleep in Humans: A Systematic Review. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 14. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2020.00923
- Imtiaz, S., Ikram, H., Ayaz, M., Qadir, M. I., & Muhammad, S. A. (2018). Effect of glycine: Studying memory and behavioral changes in mice. Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 31(5), 1943–1949. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30150193/
- Kawai, N., Sakai, N., Okuro, M., Karakawa, S., Tsuneyoshi, Y., Kawasaki, N., Takeda, T., Bannai, M., & Nishino, S. (2015). The Sleep-Promoting and Hypothermic Effects of Glycine are Mediated by NMDA Receptors in the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus. Neuropsychopharmacology, 40(6), 1405–1416. https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2014.326
- Roberts, E. (1974). γ-aminobutyric acid and nervous system function—A perspective. Biochemical Pharmacology, 23(19), 2637–2649. https://doi.org/10.1016/0006-2952(74)90033-1
- Saito, H., Cherasse, Y., Suzuki, R., Mitarai, M., Ueda, F., & Urade, Y. (2017). Zinc-rich oysters as well as zinc-yeast- and astaxanthin-enriched food improved sleep efficiency and sleep onset in a randomized controlled trial of healthy individuals. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 61(5), 10.1002/mnfr.201600882. https://doi.org/10.1002/mnfr.201600882
- Shyamaladevi, N., Jayakumar, A. R., Sujatha, R., Paul, V., & Subramanian, E. H. (2002). Evidence that nitric oxide production increases γ-amino butyric acid permeability of blood-brain barrier. Brain Research Bulletin, 57(2), 231–236. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0361-9230(01)00755-9
Former drinker, Nutritionist, Biohacking enthusiast, self-experimenter, research fanatic, and self-taught writer, Stephen immerses himself deep into the literature of human optimisation and better understand the nature of addiction. His goal is to help people take control of their addiction, reset their cravings, unscramble their broken brain circuitry and use actionable strategies that work ten times better than anything else.