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Supplements, Foods and Tricks To Fight Insomnia Off

For us, aiming at living perpetually in gainz world, sleeping is a priority as well as going to failure to every set of biceps curl and eating exclusively chicken with broccoli and rice. 

Sleep is for the weak

(it's a joke, you actually really need to sleep!)​

You know what happens if you don't sleep enough? You don't recover, you develop less strength and you won't get as big as you would by sleeping properly (ah, and you get fat). Hey, it's not me saying this, look at the research here.

How To Sleep Easily Despite Normally Sleeping Like Shit

Ok, you got it that you need to sleep, but what if you are terrible at sleeping?

Join my club my friend!

If there was a championship for bad sleeping quality, I'd be definitely the uncontested champion since 2012 (but I'm sure you would agree that you would actually be the champion). This made me feel sleepy during the day and especially sleepy at work. Not good.

Because of that, I spent months and months researching what are the best ways to sleep better. I more or less sleep like a log now. Of course, don't expect this to be consistent every night but it's a HUGE improvement.

In this post, I will collect all the tricks I use to have a good night of sleep that you can use too and start finally sleeping better.


Supplements to Sleep Better

Here a list of supplements that are used to help you sleep better.

Some of them might be completely unknown to you.

I haven't tried all of them but I will report the scientific studies related to their efficacy.

Supplement

Recommended dosage

Does it work?

Safe?

Personally tested?

Comments

Melatonin

0.3-5mg

​(meta-analysis)

  • Natural hormone produced by our pineal gland responsible for making sleepy.
  • Try first with a low dose and see how you respond to it and gradually increase if necessary.
  • To make its absorption faster, just dissolve the pills under your tongue.
  • If you have troubles staying asleep and you want to sleep for longer, you can take the time-release version that is released more slowly.
  • Personally, it makes me feel groggy the day after.
  • Melatonin is the best way to sleep very fast.

Magnesium

200-400mg

​(study, study)

  • It acts as a sedative.
  • Take it in citrate/diglycinate/gluconate form. Avoid magnesium oxide/chloride: they are poorly absorbed and will just cause cramps and diarrhea.

L-Theanine

200-400mg

(study, study, study)

  • Promotes relaxation (it looks like GABA).
  • Effects on improving sleep quality are minor.
  • Personally it improved my sleep quality but not reliably and nothing spectacular.

Glycine

1-3g

(study, study, study)

  • My absolute favorite. I slept 10 hours on the first night.
  • Personally I take 1g but research is performed with 3g. 
  • Personally its effects on sleep quality wore off after 1 week but I still wake up refreshed and awake.
  • It might promote decrease in body temperature by expanding the blood vessels of your skin so that heat can be dissipated faster. When you fall asleep you body temperature normally decreases, and glycine seems to help that.
  • This helps me to sleep for 8 hours straight (at least).

Trypthophan

0.5-5g

(review)

  • This is something I am probably going to try
  • Mechanisms are explained in the next section

Phenibut

  • body weight dependant
  • DO NOT EXCEED 1g

  • BE AWARE THIS COMPOUND CREATES ADDICTION.
  • Withdrawal symptoms are hell like so don't fuck around with this. (study, study, study)
  • It cannot be used every day, at most once per week.
  • It is a GABA like molecule that can cross your blood-brain barrier and promotes relaxation.
  • Its effects are similar to alcohol but without the hangover.
  • Itis also used from people with social anxiety and pickup artists.

Ashwagandha

0.3-6g

?

?

  • Herb used in Ayurveda medicine
  • Effects on improved sleep quality reported only in mice
  • In humans reports are anectodal
  • Personally, I didn't notice difference with 1g a day (divided in two doses — breakfast and lunch)

Ginkgo biloba

240mg of Egb-761

?

  • Seems to improve sleep efficiency but not REM sleep. (study, study)
  • On the plus side it has  cognitive enhancement properties. (study, study)

Valeriana officinalis + Lemon balm

120-160 mg valerian root extract + 80 mg lemon balm extract

(study, study)

  • Effect not very strong.

Lavender

80-160mg

?

  • It can sedate.
  • Studies report increased sleep quality in insomniacs but quality of the studies is poor.

Kava

200-300mg of WS1490

(study)​

  • Works by reducing insomnia related anxiety.
  • Might be toxic for the liver. (review, review)

Marijuana

?

  • Can cause withdrawal symptomps. (more info)
  • Effects on sleep are not clear. (more info)
  • Personally, it worked only once on the two times I tried.

Foods To Sleep Better

Taking supplements directly is the fastest and most effective way to treat sleep problems. There are, though, some food hacks that you can use to enhance the quality of your sleep or just to fall asleep faster.

The Key Is In The Turkey

First of all, you need to know about the importance of the amino acid tryptophan on making you asleep. (btw, turkey has the same amount of tryptophan like other meats more or less)

Melatonin is the hormone produced by your pineal gland that signals to your body that is time to sleep. To make melatonin, your body needs tryptophan.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that you ingest when you eat protein-rich food. But there is one caveat, though.

First of all, tryptophan is not very abundant compared to other amino acids. Furthermore, to reach the brain it needs to use a transporter that is shared by other large amino acids.

So, it's not that you just need to eat a protein rich meal before going to bed. Tryptophan will still have a hard time to get through, hence, we need something else.

The Proof Is In The Pudding

When you eat carbs, you spike insulin in your blood stream. Insulin will tell your muscles to suck up amino acids from the blood stream. Tryptophan is not as affected by this as its "competitors", therefore its levels will rise in the bloodstream.(study)

Consequently, more tryptophan reaches the brain, more melatonin is produced and you will fall asleep faster.

As for fat intake at night, research is not clear. Most of the studies show a negative effect of fat on sleep quality (study, study, study) and one shows a positive effect of low-carb diets at night (study). I suppose you have to test this for yourself.​

PRACTICAL TIPS


  • Have a high protein meal before bed with some high glycemic index carbs (study, study).
  • Choose a "safe" type of starch as rice and potatoes. Try to avoid wheat (study).
  • Cherry juice helps sleeping better (study) and probably passionflower tea too (study).
  • Generally a high fat intake at night seems like a bad idea.
  • Don't eat and drink too much right before going to bed (study, study).
  • Avoid coffee and energy drinks in the afternoon (study, study).
  • Dairy products can increase insulin as much as carbs (study, study) so have them before going to sleep. Don't drink too much milk though or you will have to wake up often to go to the toilet.
  • You may want to avoid chocolate before going to bed (study).
  • You may try some alcohol-free beer (study). It contains hop, a plant which affects several neurotransmitters responsible for making you relaxed.

All those broscience tips you read online are just broscience tips. Certainly, almonds will increase your magnesium intake but good luck trying to knock 150g of almonds back to get your 400mg of magnesium in!


Other Stuff That Makes You Sleep Better

Blue Light, Bitch Light

sleep is for people without access to the internet

Did you know that one of the causes of your insomnia can simply be the fact that you are staring at a computer screen, TV, smartphone, tablet, etc. just before sleeping?

These devices emit blue light which will prevent your pineal gland from synthesizing melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone of the sleep. Naturally, you secrete it at night so that you can fall asleep. Being exposed to blue light will prevent melatonin production, therefore, you will have a hard time falling asleep.

Solutions Against Blue Light At Night​

  1. Use orange glasses that filter the blue light from your devices. I have these ones.
  2. Install f.lux on your computer. This software will filter out as much as possible the blue light from your screen and it will give it an orangey tone. If you want to use the computer just before going to sleep, use the option darkroom mode.
  3. Install twilight on Android or use the "Night Shift" mode on iOS. They are the same as f.lux but for your mobile devices.
  4. Dim the brightness of all your electronic devices as well as the lights in your apartment. I personally turn every light off 1 hour before going to bed.

Temperature

Temperature has a very important impact on your sleep.

Try to have a temperature of 19°C (66.2 F) where you sleep (study).

Taking a warm shower before going to bed helps too (study).​
No, cold showers won't make you sleep better.

Meditate

Shutting down your brain and activating the parasympathetic nervous system are two benefits of meditating before going to bed.

Have all the lights shut off, sit comfortably or even lay down in your bed and start focusing on your breath. You can even count your breath to ten and repeat.

You might even fall asleep directly, beware.

Studies support the role of meditation to treat insomnia (study, study, study, study). To be frank, it's not the best research out there but surely meditating won't hurt you.

Be Regular

Even your sleep has a circadian rhythm. So go to sleep every night more or less at the same time to assure a good night of sleep.​


Broscientific Tips To Sleep Better

The following tips are the results of n=1 and completely not backed up with scientific studies. These are some tips that I found out working for me and may or may not work for you as well.​

1

HAVING SEX

This has been proven in rats (study) where they compared the quality of sleep of rats after having sex, running in the wheel and control. The ones having sex slept the best.

In humans, there's one study comparing volunteers masturbating with or without orgasm and control and they didn't find any difference. The study had just 10 participants so it's too small to draw any conclusion. And also, it's masturbation, not sex.

Anyway, I noticed that after having had some good sessions of sex, the quality of my sleep is much better.​

Personally, I found masturbation having non-reproducible results (did I just make an unwanted hilarious joke?!)​

2

CHANGING BED SHEETS

No idea why but every time I change my bed sheets, the quality of my sleep improves dramatically.

3

WEARING SOCKS

Keeping your extremities warm and the core of your body cold is how we fall asleep (I talked in more details about this here)

Wearing socks at night can make you fall asleep faster.

Personally, I noticed this to be true but I would wake up in the middle of the night to take them off because I feel too warm.

4

READING

While watching a movie would completely switch me on, reading or listening to an audiobook seem to increase the easiness with which I get sleepy.

5

BONUS: THE WEIRD ONE

In the beginning I thought it was a coincidence. Then I found out this to be true 90% of the time.

Every night of new moon I would sleep better.

I know.

It sounds weird and I have no idea why this happens but it keeps happening..

Well, it turns out there's actual research about this (study).​


What Correlates Negatively With Sleep In My Experience

sleep now thats a thing i havent done in a long time

Since we are still in the bro-realm, here a list that I personally have found correlating poorly with sleep.

  • Racetames (piracetam and aniracetam)
  • High-fiber food
  • Carrots
  • Bananas
  • Cold showers
  • TV/music/computer/smartphone before bed even with flux or twilight installed
  • Talking with other people in real life or facebook/whatsapp. I'm extroverted and I get energized through social interaction.
  • Watching movies

Conclusions

This post was dense of actionable stuff and might be pretty overwhelming. If you want to start sleeping better I would recommend you to:

  • Reduce or avoid caffeine altogether. You actually need it because you sleep bad and you sleep bad because of it in an endless loop of disaster (study).
  • Eat high-protein and high-GI carbs meal around 4 hours before going to bed. Limit fat intake.
  • Don't drink too much liquid at night.
  • Avoid electronic devices.
  • Have a winding down ritual.

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