Sleep Supplements: The Breakdown

Quality sleep, like every function of the body, relies on optimal biochemistry. This centres largely around the production of neurotransmitters - those chemical messengers in our brain which determine whether the body is in a state of excitement or one of calm and relaxation.

As they say though, it’s about the journey, not just the destination. So supporting the body’s own production of sleep promoting neurotransmitters is the best course of action.

Dimming lights at sunset, for example, support the body’s natural production of melatonin, which is the brain's key messenger for inducing sleep. However, there is no real substitute for providing the body with specific nutrients required in the biochemical pathways leading up to the production of these neurotransmitters. These nutrients are called co-factors, and without them, those pathways become compromised.

You see the amino acids which act as direct precursors to neurotransmitters, have a number of routes available to them, but not all roads lead to the desired neurotransmitter. Tryptophan is an example of this. While it acts as a precursor to serotonin, this will only happy with the support of Vitamin B3. In the case of B3 deficiency, tryptophan will choose another route, and subsequently serotonin production becomes compromised. Since serotonin is converted into melatonin at sunset, the consequence of low serotonin production has a direct impact on the function of sleep.

You can see why B Vitamins are important co-factors when it comes to sleep. They are the sign posts directing traffic to your end destination…. Dream land!

 

Below is a breakdown of all the ingredients found in our Deep Sleep Supplement Powder and why we've included them in our exclusive formulation.  

Neurotransmitters

Gamma Amino Butyric Acid (GABA) is the body's main inhibitory neurotransmitter which has the ability to ‘shut down’ nerve cells throughout the central nervous system. It’s no wonder it plays a role in sleep disorders! It is particularly useful in sleep maintenance disorders. Low levels are commonly seen in people who experience anxiety. Some medicinal and recreational drugs reduce the natural level of GABA; these include alcohol, barbiturates and cannabinoids.

So, if falling asleep comes easily to you, but you wake throughout the night, this neurotransmitter may help to keep you sleeping through to sunrise.

 

Amino Acids

l-Glycine is an amino acid that is important in brain metabolism and has a calming effect on the nervous system. When combined with amino acids Leucine and Cysteine, it makes the body’s chief antioxidant, Glutathione.

Inositol is considered to be part of the B Vitamin complex and is often referred to as Vitamin B8. It's concentration in the body is the second highest of B vitamins, surpassed only by Niacin. Inositol has been shown to promote a sense of calmness and is used in treating conditions such as anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorders and panic attacks. Its stores throughout the body are depleted by regular caffeine intake.

5-HTP is the direct precursor to serotonin. Serotonin is the body’s feel good neurotransmitter responsible for regulating, mood, appetite and pain sensation.  At sunset, the loss of natural light triggers the conversion of serotonin into melatonin. Higher amounts of serotonin in the system at this time supports a greater production of melatonin. It is not surprising then that melatonin levels have been shown to increase immediately following oral digestion of 5-HTP.

l-theanine is an amino acid that is difficult to attain through diet. When ingested, it works immediately in the brain to create a sense of relaxation. It supports the production of GABA and therefore has a large role to play in creating a state of relaxation.

 

Co-factors

Riboflavin (aka Vitamin B2) is difficult to attain through diet, which often results in in deficiency and the need for supplementation. Women who take oestrogen or brith control pills, people on antibiotics or experiencing stress need additional amounts. It has a large role to play in ensuring the adequate uptake of other bi vitamins and is therefore crucial to their function.

Niacinamide (aka Vitamin B3) acts as a co-factor directing tryptophan towards to the production of serotonin. This is why co-prescribing tryptophan with B3 is important for the purpose of promoting better quality of sleep. As serotonin is converted into melatonin in the evening, Vitamin B3 is also important for the production of melatonin. 

Vitamin B6 is an important B Vitamin, particularly in women, as it plays a role in balancing hormones. It also acts as a co-factor in the production of several neurotrasnmitters including GABA. For this reason it plays a large role in supporting the onset and maintenance of sleep. It is lost in the refining or processing of foods and is not the easiest vitamin to obtain naturally from diet.

You can enjoy the benefits of this incredible combination of ingredients in our Deep Sleep Supplement Powder.  

 

Others

Activated Charcoal is commonly used as a detoxifying agent as it binds to ‘toxins or poisons’ that are currently in the digestive tract and removes them from the body via the bowel in stool. It can be found in detoxifying products such as toothpaste. You can find Activated Charcoal in our Deep Sleep Supplement Powder with Activated Charcoal to assist digestion throughout the night. 

Magnesium Chloride – Magnesium is an important essential mineral involved in several hundred biochemcial reactions. It is considered the ‘anti-stress’ mineral and is a natural tranquiliser as it functions to relax skeletal muscles as well as smooth muscles of blood vessels. The reduced amount of magnesium available in our soil has reduced the amount that is naturally available in fresh produce. Intake of alcohol, caffeine and sugar all decrease magnesium levels in the body. Increase your magnesium intake with our Oral Magnesium Spray, available in two flavours.

 

There are periods throughout life when the body uses and therefore requires higher amount of nutrients, for example during times of stress, pregnancy, illness, recovery, exposures to environmental pollutants and while taking many medications.

While a varied diet, one that is ideally organic, based on fresh fruit and vegetables, combined with whole grains, protein and healthy fats, should be the primary source of nutrients, there may be times when supplementation is required to meet these additional demands. 

 

Blog contribution by incredible Clinical Naturopath Polly Rea from Feeling Dandy. Based in Byron Bay, Polly offers consultations via Skype, phone, or in person. 

Tags: Supplements