Insomnia and Natural Supplement Remedies

insomniaSleep is one of the body’s basic requirements. At some point in their lives, most people have gotten too little sleep and felt the effects the following day. But what happens when you miss sleep on a daily basis? If you’re someone that can never seem to get to sleep at night or can’t stay asleep for the requisite 7-9 hours, you may have insomnia. Insomnia and the resulting sleep deprivation are growing conditions in our modern society. The tricky thing about insomnia, however, is that it’s not a single problem. Each case of insomnia can have its own unique set of causes.

What Can Cause Insomnia?

Even though it can be caused by a number of factors, there are some common causes. They can be grouped into 3 general categories.

Psychological Causes: Stress, anxiety, depression or recent trauma can all keep your mind in a space that’s not conducive to sleep. These are often the most common causes. The mind can start racing at night when all the lights are off and there’s no stimuli fighting for our attention. 

Medical Causes: Many medical conditions can cause insomnia. These can include, but aren’t limited to respiratory problems like allergies and asthma, neurological diseases like Parkinson’s, or chronic pain from an injury. 

Environmental Causes: These are often the most preventable and include inconsistent sleep habits, late night computer or TV viewing or working “graveyard” shifts. Something as simple as having a poorly designed sleep environment can cause insomnia too. A room that’s too bright, noisy or uncomfortable can prevent you from fully settling. 

The Dangers of Sleep Drugs

sleep drug dangersBig pharmaceutical companies are constantly pushing ads for drugs like Ambien and Lunesta to help treat insomnia. Of couse, there are drawbacks to using drugs this strong. The nightmares people report from Ambien, the number one sleep aid, are very real. On the FDA’s Ambien medication guide the warning states: 

“After taking AMBIEN, you may get up out of bed while not being fully awake and do an activity that you do not know you are doing. The next morning, you may not remember that you did anything during the night. Reported activities include: driving a car (“sleep-driving”), making and eating food, talking on the phone, having sex, sleep-walking”  

Clearly there’s a case to avoid strong sleep-inducing drugs. 

Treat Insomnia Naturally

So, how can you combat insomnia without worrying about waking up in a McDonald’s drive-thru? The process starts by analyzing your environment. Is your room dark and quiet? Is your bed comfortable? Make sure you’re not watching TV or using the computer too close to bed time. After you’ve addressed these issues, the next step is to look into some supplements to help you fall asleep faster and get natural, sustained, restful sleep.

Supplements to Treat Insomnia

  • L-theanine: This supplement has fantastic benefits for both day and night users. The same effects that help improve a calm state while awake and combat stress can also help ease the mind and body before bed. A placebo-controlled Japanese study showed a 70% improvement in a number of sleep quality factors after using l-theanine.  
  • Choline: Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that has significantly higher production during REM cycles. Inadequate levels of acetylcholine have been linked to sleep deprivation in multiple studies. Taking choline before bed can help ensure you’re getting the right amount of acetylcholine production during the night.

  • GABA: GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that has been directly linked to insomnia. In general, it works by slowing down certain parts of the brain at the right time so when levels are low, the brain will keep working just as it was during the waking state and it’s harder to fall asleep and get the right amount of deep sleep required to fully recover.

  • Melatonin: Melatonin, a hormone naturally produced in the body, is nature’s sleep regulator. At night, undisturbed by outside light sources like TV, Computers, Phones, Lamps, etc the body raises melatonin production and you get sleepy. Obviously, this can become problematic in the modern world where people are glued to a screen all the time. Without natural light signals, the body doesn’t fully know when to “shut down” and technically thinks it’s still daytime.  Melatonin supplements before bed can help offset this and kickstart the sleep process.

Each of these supplements can be an effective weapon against insomnia. What’s even more important is that they can each be used safely and won’t leave you feeling hungover or groggy the next day. If a proper supplementation regime is combined with proper sleep habits, stress management, and nutrition and exercise, most common insomnia cases would likely be eliminated.

Sources

Caffeine and L-Theanine: Coffee, Tea, or Supplements?

caffeine from starbucksImagine having the focus of a Zen master with the energy of a cheetah. Combining caffeine and L-theanine can help make that a reality.

Most people are familiar with the idea of caffeine based energy, otherwise there wouldn’t be a Starbucks on every corner, but the focus part is what’s most important.

Running around in circles will get you nowhere, but caffeine AND L-theanine gives you the ability to think in a clear, strategic way while your energy levels are high.

Caffeine

The first component is the caffeine. Even through it’s a nervous system stimulant, caffeine can be beneficial if taken in the right frequency and doses. When used appropriately, it can improve focus, energy, cognition and even mood. However, if you get too much caffeine it can have a nasty jittery effect and leave you feeling burned out very quickly. Also, caffeine needs to be cycled in order to stay effective and avoid tolerance buildup.

Coffee vs Caffeine Supplements

Not all coffee is created equal when it comes to caffeine

Not all coffee is created equal when it comes to caffeine

Most people get their daily caffeine through drinks like coffee. Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the world. It’s used by students and executives alike to get their day started. If you’re going to consider using it for nootropic purposes, however, there are some things to consider.

First, you need to be scientific with it. One cup of coffee doesn’t always have the same amount of caffeine as the next, especially if you’re getting mixed coffee drinks or coffee from different sources each day. The actual caffeine content can vary drastically if you don’t have strict control over how strong or big the cup of coffee is.

Bulk Caffeine Supplements

The alternative is to go with bulk caffeine supplements. This can be accurately measured and taken in consistent doses so you know what you’re actually getting each and every time. You can also use bulk caffeine in custom pre-made stacks or capsules. Plus, it is less expensive than coffee in the long run if you’re drinking high quality coffee or daily lattes.

L-theanine Powder

green tea contains l-theanine, which sooths and relaxesThe other half of the combination is l-theanine powder. This supplement is a naturally occurring amino acid that was originally discovered in green tea. On its own, l-theanine works within the central nervous system to provide anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) or calming effects.

L-theanine promotes alpha wave activity in the brain. Alpha waves are the brain waves produced in a relaxed, awakened state, so it’s easy to see how this supplement can help calm you.  Like caffeine, l-theanine is available in bulk which gives you the ability to mix it into custom stacks and accurately measure each dose.

L-Theanine Powder and Caffeine

Despite the two supplements having what seem like drastically different effects on the body, the net effect of the caffeine l-theanine combo is a synergy that gives you the energy of caffeine but with a calm focus.

This combination is one that, whether they knew it or not, monks have used for thousands of years. Teas, which contain small amounts of caffeine and l-theanine, were staples of their mediation practices, giving them the energy to stay awake and the focused calmness to stay in their state for hours at a time.

L-Theanine Powder and Caffeine Dosage

L-Theanine Powder can be weighed with a milligram scale for accurate dosing

Use a digital milligram scale to accurately weight your supplements.

L-theanine and caffeine dosages are measured in ratios as opposed to total mg. The recommended ratio of l-theanine to caffeine is 2:1, meaning you should take two parts theanine for one part caffeine.

Again, this is where bulk caffeine is more beneficial since you can get a clean measurement. Starting doses can vary depending on your own caffeine intake and tolerance. If you’re not a caffeine drinker at all, then 50mg caffeine and 100mg l-theanine may be ideal. And if you’re a heavy caffeine user already, you’ll need to adjust the ratios to your current intake.

Don’t like using milligram scales? Then check out these caffeine L-theanine capsules. You will get all the same benefits without the extra work.

What to Expect with Caffeine and L Theanine Powder

When you are able to dial in your ideal dosage, you will notice a few things. First, you will be alert. This wont be news for any coffee drinkers or caffeine users. Second, you wont have a jittery edge to your caffeine buzz. And finally, you’ll find it easier to focus. The effects may seem more or less subtle depending on your current supplement usage, but in general you’ll have a calm, focused energy to get you through your day with no jittery anxiety.

Caffeine and Theanine Sources

http://chemistry.about.com/od/moleculescompounds/a/caffeine.htm

http://altmedicine.about.com/od/greentea/a/Theanine.htm

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21040626

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18641209

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22326943