Sleep Supplements - the Healthy Way to Sound Sleep

There are broadly two types of insomnia supplements. The first type helps in addressing the biochemical problem. It boosts the levels of melatonin and serotonin which in turn promotes better sleep. The second category helps in decreasing your stress levels. When the stress levels are reduced, you automatically tend to get a sound sleep.
Deficiencies in certain vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes may be a cause of a sleep disorders. Calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, folic acid and melatonin deficiencies may become one of insomnia causes.

sleeping imageTryptophan (L-tryptophan) is an amino acid that plays a key role in the repair of protein tissues and in creating new protein. In the brain, tryptophan is converted into serotonin, a natural sleep-inducing chemical. It also enhances the brain's ability to produce melatonin, the hormone that regulates your body's natural inner clock and sleep cycle. It is a key amino acid for sleeping problems.

Tryptophan supplements were banned in the United States by the FDA after a contaminated batch from a Japanese manufacturer was suspected of causing a serious blood disease in several people. There is no risk though associated with eating tryptophan-rich foods. L-tryptophan is found in foods such as milk and turkey.

Clinical studies showed that L-tryptophan produces only modest effects in the treatment for insomnia. More importantly, research showed that L-tryptophan can reduce REM sleep while increasing the time spent in non-REM sleep.

Serotonin is an important initiator of sleep. Our body makes serotonin from the amino acid tryptophan. Taking tryptophan will raise serotonin levels and promote sleep. Tryptophan is more effective for cases of sleep-onset insomnia, since its greatest effect is to shorten the time required to fall asleep.

Phosphatidylserine is an amino acid that helps the brain regulates the amount of cortisone produced by the adrenals. It is helpful for those who cannot sleep because of high cortisone levels, usually induced by stress.

5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) is a form of tryptophan that is one step closer to serotonin administration. 5-HTP has also been found, in several clinical studies, to decrease the time required to fall asleep and decrease the number of awakenings.

5- HTP provides the quickest, most effective, and most consistent overall results in treating insomnia. It is an effective alternative for dealing with sleep problems in a safe and natural way compared to sleep medicines. 5-HTP improves the quality of sleep. More importantly, clinical studies show that 5- HTP is also useful in the treatment of sleep disorders other than insomnia.

5-HTP increases REM sleep significantly (typically by about 25 percent) while increasing deep sleep stages 3 and 4 without increasing total sleep time. 5-HTP achieve this by shortening the amount of time you spend in sleep stages 1 and 2, which in certain ways are the least important stages of the sleep cycle.

Sleep medications imageThe impact of 5-HTP on sleep stages is dose-related; taking higher doses produces a somewhat greater impact. In most cases, the lower dosage is adequate. Higher doses may lead to a greater number of disturbing dreams and nightmares due to abnormally prolonged REM sleep. It can also lead to mild nausea.
To increase the sedative effects of 5-HTP, take it with a food high in carbohydrate such as fruit or fruit juice near bedtime.

Melatonin is a hormone secreted naturally by the pineal gland. Melatonin is the sleep hormone. It is said to induce sleep without any negative side effects. In several studies, melatonin has been found helpful in inducing and maintaining sleep for both people with normal sleep patterns and those suffering from insomnia. It is also useful in banishing jet lag.

However, it appears that the sleep-promoting effects of melatonin are most apparent only if a person's melatonin levels are low. In other words, taking melatonin is not like taking a sleeping pill or even 5-HTP. It will only produce a sedative effect when melatonin levels are low. Melatonin appears to be most effective in treating insomnia in the elderly, as low melatonin levels are common in this age group.

Safety: Studies of melatonin's safety are limited, with isolated reports of exacerbation of depression, fatigue and restriction of coronary arteries.


Calcium, especially when contained in food, has a sedative effect on the body. A calcium deficiency causes restlessness and wakefulness. Liquid calcium has been shown to have a relaxing effect.

Insomnia drugs imageMagnesium can help induce sleep. Magnesium deficiency is responsible for nervousness that prevents good sleep. Magnesium-rich foods include kelp, wheat bran, almonds, cashews, blackstrap molasses, and brewer's yeast.

The lack of calcium and magnesium can cause leg cramps during the night. Calcium and magnesium produce calming effects on the brain.

B-Complex: B vitamins have long been known as the “Anti-Stress Vitamins.” B vitamins are essential also in fighting against anxiety and depression.

The higher metabolism and stress level, the faster B vitamins are used up. If high amounts of stress are present in your life, it is very essential to increase the amount of B vitamins in your diet. This is important as stress is one of the major factors that lead to insomnia.

Vitamin B6 supplements can help to prevent insomnia. A tablespoon or two of nutritional yeast is an excellent Source of vitamin B6. Stir it into a glass of juice.

Vitamin B12 is another important supplement for treating insomnia.

Vitamin B 5 (Pantothenic acid) can serve as an effective anti-insomnia vitamin regimen. The B5 is good for relieving stress. The best food sources of the B vitamins are liver, whole grains, wheat germ, tuna, walnuts, peanuts, bananas, sunflower seeds, and blackstrap molasses.

Vitamin B8 (Inositol) possibly alleviates insomnia. It is known that B8 influences the ability of the “calming” neurotransmitter named GABA to bind to its receptors and this action of inositol (which is similar to that of valium) may influence sleep. Some researchers claim that B8 enhances REM sleep.

Chromium is often effective for someone with a blood sugar problem that is keeping them awake at nights. Brewer's yeast is a good source of Chromium.