Getting enough sleep and rest are two very important links in the chain when it comes to fitness, and too often their importance is overlooked. Some people may have trouble getting to sleep at night while others may suffer from poor time management. Simply put, recovery is just as important as nutrition or training when it comes to being the best you can be. While getting as much natural rest as possible should be your goal, sometimes you need a little push in the right direction. I’ve broken down the top 5 supplements to aid in sleep and relaxation to help you get the best recovery possible and supercharge your next workout.
- Melatonin is a hormone secreted in the brain that regulates sleep. In two separate studies long term supplementation of melatonin has shown to decrease insomnia and regulate sleep in both older adults as well as youth. The supplementation of melatonin has not shown any side effects or symptoms of withdrawal.
- Melatonin Dosage: Start with 500mcg (0.5mg) and work up to 3-5g, stick with lower dose if effects are strong and proceed from there.
- L-Theanine is an interesting supplement that has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and reduce mental and physical stress. In one study supplementation of L-theanine was shown to reduce the subject’s heart rate and salivary immunoglobulin A (S-IgA) responses to a stress related task in comparison to a placebo control group.
- Theanine Dosage: Start with 100mg and work your way up to 200mg according to results and personal preference.
Valerian Root benefits
- Valerian root or valeriana officinalis is an herb that is commonly found in green tea. While supplementing this herb will not put you to sleep, instead relaxation and ease of mind are more inclined to ensue. Although this herb has been used throughout history only recently have we started to understand how it works. Animal research has shown that the main benefits of valerian supplementation come from the way in which the valarenic acid in the herb interacts with the GABA receptor, binding to it and ultimately reducing anxiety levels significantly.
- Valerian Dosage: Take 400-900 mg within two hours of going to bed.
ZMA for Sleep
- ZMA is a patented formula that contains zinc aspartate, magnesium aspartate and vitamin B-6 (which is typically pyridoxine).While ZMA is one of the least researched supplements in my top 5, there is overwhelming anecdotal evidence that suggests the formula is effective at both inducing sleep and raising testosterone levels. Magnesium has been linked to effectively inducing sleep in individuals who are deficient in the mineral according to a German study done in the 90s.
- ZMA Dosage: Take supplement before going to bed at least two hours after your last meal. Do not take with calcium as this can block the absorption of zinc.
- Tryptophan is an essential amino acid in the human diet and is part of the 22 standard amino acids. The supplementation of tryptophan has been shown to increase sleepiness and decrease sleep latency (how long it takes for you to fall asleep) after a dose of 1 gram or more. Contrary to popular belief, turkey does not contain a more significant amount of tryptophan than other meats and should not be seen as a source for supplementation.
- Tryptophan Dosage: Start with 1g and work your way up to 5-15g depending on personal preference.