Best Nootropics for Sleep
There's nothing better than waking up refreshed and ready to tackle a day after a good night's sleep. On the flip side, there's almost nothing worse than getting up in the morning after not sleeping right or at all.
Not sleeping right forces you to suffer through your day like a zombie, and not getting enough sleep can have many negative health effects.
If you're having trouble sleeping, you might want to consider taking some nootropics or natural supplements. Prescription sleep aids are an option, but they're often very dangerous, addictive, and costly. Plenty of nootropics or natural substances can help you get a good night's sleep by affecting various mechanisms and hormones in your body.
Today, we want to look at the best nootropics for sleep deprivation so you can finally get back to sleeping right.
- Sleep involves a variety of mechanisms, such as the circadian rhythm, which dictates the quality and duration of sleep.
- There are various supplements and nootropics that can directly affect these sleep mechanisms.
- Some important nootropics on this front include GABA, turmeric, ashwagandha, and lion’s mane. Keep reading to find out what the best nootropics for sleep are!
How Sleep Works
Sleep is important for so many different reasons, including basic cognition, immunity, well-being, quality of life, and so much more.
However, to know why sleep is important and why certain supplements can help you with sleep, you first need to know how it functions. So, how does sleep work?
One of the primary sleep mechanisms in your body is the hypothalamus, a section of your brain. This contains a cluster of millions of cells that receive and process information about the light that your eyes are exposed to.
When the hypothalamus recognizes darkness or a lack of light, it causes your brain stem to produce GABA. This inhibitory neurotransmitter is known for producing a calming effect and can also help reduce arousal levels in the brain. This, in turn, makes you feel tired.
Essentially, two general functions control our sleep: the circadian rhythm and our sleep drive (sleep-wake homeostasis). The sleep drive is the mechanism that tracks how much sleep you get and lets you know when you're running low. It also helps you stay asleep when you need it the most.
We then have the circadian rhythm, which controls when you sleep. This is related to the hypothalamus, as mentioned above. Because the circadian rhythm tells you when to go to sleep and when to wake up, which is in response to light, let's take a closer look at the circadian rhythm.
The brain chemical most closely associated with feeling sleepy is melatonin. Your eyes and brain measure how much light you are being exposed to, and based on this, produce certain amounts of melatonin.
When your eyes and hypothalamus recognize darkness, it causes your brain to produce more melatonin, which then makes you feel sleepy. When there is a lack of melatonin in the brain, you start feeling more awake.
When your brain recognizes that light is coming through your eyelids, when it is morning time, it stops producing as much melatonin, helping you wake up.
Melatonin is produced in the pineal gland, and when it's dark outside, your retinas send messages to your brain, which sends messages to your pineal gland, to start increasing melatonin production.
GABA is not the only neurotransmitter that plays an important role in sleep. Adenosine is another one, which is a natural byproduct that occurs due to the formation of ATP or adenosine triphosphate.
For those who don't know, adenosine triphosphate is the fuel that your body uses to keep all of your cells going.
It’s very important for a number of different functions, including muscle growth and recovery, which is why athletes take creatine, which increases ATP levels.
However, when related to sleep, the going theory at the time is that adenosine, which is created during the day, leads to your body needing to replenish your energy stores through the night, which is done by sleeping. This so-called natural homeostatic sleep drive reminds you that it's time to sleep.
As we discussed above, two main mechanisms cause you to sleep: the circadian rhythm and the homeostatic sleep drive or sleep-wake homeostasis. There are many stimulants out there, such as caffeine, which act as antagonists to adenosine, which prevents it from having the same sleep-inducing effects.
There are two types of sleep, non-REM and REM sleep, with non-REM sleep consisting of three stages. There are a total of four stages of sleep, so let's take a quick look at each of them.
- Stage 1 is a stage of non-REM sleep where you change from being awake to being asleep. This stage usually only lasts for a few minutes and is characterized by slowing down eye movements, breathing, heartbeat, and muscle relaxation. Brain waves also slow down during this stage.
- Stage 2 is another stage of non-REM sleep where alpha brain wave activity comes to a near standstill. This stage is characterized by your breathing and heart rate slowing down even more, combined with further muscle relaxation. Eye movements stop during this stage, and body temperature drops.
- Stage 3 is the third step of non-REM sleep, which is a very deep state of sleep that you need to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed. This is characterized by so-called slow wave sleep, which happens in much longer periods in the first half of the night. This is when your breathing and heartbeat slow to their very lowest levels, and your muscles relax more than during any other time of sleep.
- Stage 4 is known as REM sleep, which happens about 90 minutes after falling asleep. This is when your eyes move quickly from side to side, brain wave activity varies from beta, alpha, and theta waves, and breathing becomes irregular and faster. Heart rate and blood pressure increase to levels close to those when you are awake. This is usually when you dream as well. After REM sleep, the rest of your sleep cycle is spent switching between stages 2 and 3 of non-REM sleep and REM sleep.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
Considering that not everybody is exactly the same, regular adults require between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Younger people, including teenagers and school-age children, require up to 9.5 hours of sleep per night.
However, this can differ from one person to another, and the optimal sleep level for you depends on various factors. One thing remains true, however, that everybody needs sleep, which greatly affects our overall state of being.
For instance, there is a study that shows that getting enough sleep can produce as much happiness as winning a lottery. Sleep isn't just important because you feel refreshed in the morning; it directly affects your overall quality of life.
Sleep and Learning & Memory
If you've ever pulled an all-nighter playing video games or watching movies, only to figure out that you can barely think in the morning, this is not uncommon. In reality, performing any kind of cognitive or mental tasks when you are exhausted is very difficult.
Let's quickly explain how memory formation works.
During the day, your synaptic strength progressively increases. This is known as the encoding phase of memory formation. All the inputs your brain takes in during the day are stored for consolidation later, which happens while you sleep.
However, if this strengthening of the synapses happened continuously, the human brain would quickly become insensitive to new inputs, resulting in an inability to learn or form memories. Synapses would eventually begin to lose their integrity, and neurons could no longer fire selectively.
Furthermore, the removal of neurotoxic waste and regular cellular maintenance would also decline, ultimately resulting in increased energy consumption. Sleep is, therefore, very important on all of these fronts.
The phases where you sleep the deepest are also known as slow-wave sleep, and this is crucial for down-regulating the strength of synapses. This is important for memory processing and formation.
While you sleep, those synapses recover, so you can once again learn and form memories the next day. However, if you don't sleep, your synapses can't rest, resulting in inhibited neuroplasticity and a decreased ability to learn or form memories.
Memory formation seems to be particularly affected by REM sleep, especially when it comes to spatial memory and contextual memory. Spatial memory is when your brain records information about your environment, such as where you live and your neighborhood.
Contextual memory is the ability to memorize a specific memory and to be able to discern its origins. Studies show that REM or dream sleep is involved in the formation of both of these types of memories.
Sleep and Quality of Life
Getting a good night's sleep is directly associated with quality of life or how people perceive their quality of life.
This study confirmed that those who slept either more than nine hours per night or less than six hours per night experienced what they perceived to be a vastly decreased quality of life, as well as increased instances of depression.
The reality is that a lack of quality sleep has been linked to many health issues, such as stroke, diabetes, heart disease, cognitive decline, and many more. Getting a good night's sleep on a consistent basis is therefore directly related to not only the quality of life but also the duration of it.
Best Nootropics for Quality of Sleep
Now that you know everything there is to know about sleep, let's take a look at some of the best nootropics you can take that will increase the quality of your sleep.
As discussed above, melatonin is very important for your sleep cycle. Many people take melatonin because it reduces the time it takes to fall asleep and generally improves sleep quality. This is a hormone that is synthesized by the pineal gland, which, among other things, regulates our circadian sleep cycle.
Phenibut is known for being a potent sleep aid, and it's very closely related to GABA. It is crucial for promoting relaxation, improving mood, reducing stress, and increasing quality of sleep. This is technically an analog of GABA, which is an important inhibitory neurotransmitter, as discussed above.
It has an extremely calming effect on the brain and helps to facilitate feelings of tranquility and relaxation. It's a great way to help balance mood while also acting as a sleep aid.
Speaking of GABA, we then have lemon balm, a herbal supplement. This is an ideal supplement for relieving symptoms associated with insomnia, stress, and more. It contains something known as rosmarinic acid, which helps encourage blood flow and acts as a GABA inhibitor.
Lemon balm affects GABA levels, making you feel calmer and sleepy. It also has a citrusy lemon scent, making it quite enjoyable to consume.
GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, is a specific type of amino acid that is synthesized in the brain from glutamate and vitamin B6. It is a neurotransmitter found in the central nervous system, which, as you should know by now, has calming and sleep-inducing effects. GABA is one of the best supplements you can take to help you get a good night's sleep.
Ashwagandha is a little bush that grows in India, Africa, and the Middle East. Both the berry and the root can be used for medicinal purposes. There are studies out there that suggest that this extract has the ability to increase both the amount and quality of sleep. This is an important adaptogen that should not only help you get a good night's sleep but should also help make you feel less anxious and stressed out.
TUNE IN is loaded with ashwagandha!
You then have turmeric, a plant or spice that is used in many areas of the world for cooking. However, it doesn't just taste good, but also has many health benefits, which is thanks mainly to the primary compound, curcumin.
Curcumin has many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that are beneficial for your health, with stress reduction and acting as a sleep aid being two of them.
There are some studies that suggest that curcumin may prevent cortisol from being created, which is a stress hormone, which in turn aids with sleep. Here is a study that indicates that curcumin acts as a powerful sleep aid.
Lion’s mane is known for being one of the most beneficial adaptogenic mushrooms in the world. It's been used for many centuries for medicinal purposes, especially in Asia. This adaptogenic mushroom has many benefits, both for the human mind and body.
This study suggests that this mushroom may have effects similar to antidepressants, with another one showing a reduction in depression and stress, particularly in mice. Here is yet another study that suggests that this mushroom may have beneficial impacts on sleep.
TUNE IN contains plenty of lion’s mane extract!
Tulsi, also known as holy basil, is an herb used in India for centuries. It is known for having a wide variety of beneficial health effects, with lowering high cortisol levels being one of them. It may also be able to help regulate your blood sugar. These benefits come together to help improve your sleep cycle and the quality of your sleep.
The bottom line is that there are plenty of awesome nootropics and supplements that can help you get a good night's sleep, and as long as they contain at least some of the substances above, you should have great success on this front. We certainly recommend checking out TUNE IN to help you finally get the sleep you need!
Nootropics for Sleep: FAQs
What is the Best Nootropics Sleep Aid?
Ashwagandha and lion’s mane are both great for sleep, both of which happen to be contained in TUNE IN.
Do Nootropics Make You Sleepy?
Some nootropics may be able to help calm you down, reduce stress, and promote a healthy sleep. Reishi is another sleep-promoting nootropic!
Do Nootropics Increase REM Sleep?
Some nootropics are able to increase the quality of sleep, which also includes REM sleep.
When Should I Take Nootropics for Sleep?
Nootropics for sleep should be taken shortly before bedtime.
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- Epinephrine to increase alertness
- Acetylcholine to direct attention
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