*For Informational Purposes only*
Everyone I know is struggling with sleep at the moment, oh and me too – a little. Wake up for a pee and can’t get back off to sleep…
Chronic sleep deprivation can result from or result in (confusingly) depression & anxiety, and obviously takes its toll physically too.
Here are some quick tips – I hope they help
Magnesium For Better Sleep
First thing I would try – high dose magnesium. There is a lot of research on how it is beneficial for anxiety generally and also sleep.
Magnesium glycinate is good if you have problems with your stomach at all – as other forms of magnesium can make you a bit loose in high doses. There is a drink you can make with magnesium citrate if you don’t like tablets.
Not sure of the level of research supporting their use but epsom salts definitely work too, but just be mindful of dehydration – fighters use epsom salts for weight cutting. There are also magnesium sprays.
Minimise Blue Light Exposure From Computers & Mobile Phones
Try not to use your mobile after 8pm (or 2 hours before bedtime) and look to get a blue light filter or browser plugin for your computer – like Get Flux.
Lavender Oil For Relaxation & Sleep
I’ve personally never tried this one (just ordered some though), but there is some research on this to say it helps + a load of good Amazon reviews which is always (overly) convincing
This review of scientific research on lavender oil and sleep concludes:
Early results appear promising but they should be viewed with caution. More scientifically rigorous and adequately powered trials are needed to investigate the true effect of lavender oil aroma inhalation on sleep.
Listen to White Noise or Waves
Waves works for me, white noise makes me see really mad colours (when my eyes are closed), which is cool but not especially helpful. I’ve tried to use this video for meditation several times, and each time I fall fast asleep before the end.
Meditation For Sleep
If you can get passed the voice (non-judgement being an important part of meditation!) then this track is helpful…insomnia seems to be associated with ‘many thoughts’ and overthinking, so mindfulness and meditation is a difficult, but obvious path to follow
Other Supplements for Sleep
People like supplements for sleep (including me) as its a quick-fix – not a criticism, it’s just easier…especially when you’re knackered –
Melatonin – I don’t know too much about this to be honest, apparently there are safety concerns, more info here – https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/melatonin-and-sleep/page/0/1
Bali Kratom, Kava Kava & Phenibut – All 3 are highly effective, but I can’t vouch for their legality since the psychoactive substances ban – whereby everything except caffeine, nicotine & alcohol that is psychoactive was banned.
Kava Kava – listed on examine.com as the most researched ‘supplement’, with robust evidence for treating anxiety. It’s also great for sleep, but there’s concerns over liver toxicity. Certainly don’t mix with alcohol. It’s an ancient drink used by Pacific Islanders for thousands of years.
Kratom is another ancient herb which has become controversial. I first read about it on the Forbes website and it had a positive write up, but it’s since been scheduled in some states in America – which people are up in arms about because thousands have been using it to treat PTSD, depression and pain. Some strains make you sleep, some make you happy and alert. More info here.
Use of phenibut is probably best kept to a last resort. Phenibut was invented for Russian cosmonauts to tackle anxiety and enhance focus during space flights. Phenibut is so effective that unfortunately, it’s quite addictive for some people and the withdrawals are pretty bad. Use once a week max (or just don’t bother).
See also GABA and 5 HTP
Glycine has also been shown to improve the quality of sleep – take 2g/3g about 45 minutes before bed time. Study here.
Tackle the Cause of Poor Sleep
If your lack of sleep is due to stress, then I’d suggest tackling this from both the physical and mental ‘angles’.
A very quick overview of this (I’ll do a seperate blog post at some point)
- Have a read up on gut health and mental health – then see if you can make some key changes to your diet, like adding fermented foods and cutting out sugar. “All disease starts in the gut” Hippocrates
- Tackle overthinking with regular meditation
- Exercise. Yoga for example, can provide the benefits of being physically active & also the major mental health benefits of building social relationships. The actual exercises are great for getting rid of physical tension and it’s a kind of a moving meditation too.
- Take an ‘adaptogen’ like ashwagandha or rhodiola rosea
- Avoid omega 6 and supplement with omega 3 (preferably fish oil, which contains EPA)
- I’d personally recommend reading a number of books, or listening to them on Audible – The Chimp Paradox, The Happiness Hypothesis, anything on Stoicism, Be Here Now (quite hard core), 10% Happier by Dan Harris and it’s a bit hard going but The Power of Now is good if you can get your head round the grandiose writing style. Reading definitely helps, for example in the book “Man’s Search for Meaning” it ‘talks’ of how prisoners of war survived Nazi concentration camps with a sense of humour and by providing a sense of meaning to their survival.
Better Sleep – Quick Tips & Hacks
Apologies for using the word hacks….but to summarise:
- Try speaking with a Doctor
- Supplement with magnesium
- Supplement with an adaptogen like ashwagandha
- Try listening to some ocean-waves at bed time.
- To minimise exposure to blue light – try get flux on your computer.
- Make sure your bedroom is completely ‘black’. Any light at all can mess with your sleep quality.
- Try Lavender Oil – add a few drops on your bedding
- Look at supplementing with omega 3 and avoiding omega 6; meditate and exercise.
Exercising in a class has the added benefit of building social relationships, which is highly correlated with being ‘more happy’.
- Don’t have kids
If you’re still struggling to sleep – see a doctor…and research kava kava – remember there’s some concern over liver toxicity though