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Using Supplements for Better Sleep

by in Medical Care May 30, 2019

The human body hosts an amazing and complex collection of chemistry that influences every aspect of our physical function and health.  Every day, unseen vitamins, minerals and hormones help keep countless systems humming along with barely a thought on our part.

While we may not notice when everything is functioning properly, we certainly do notice the impact when the levels of these vital compounds stray outside the ideal range.

In this post, we’ll examine three of the most common supplements used to promote better sleep. We’ll look at both natural and supplementary sources for each, the effect they have on the body in general (and sleep, in particular), and how proper regulation of each can help you improve your sleep quality and quantity.

Magnesium

More than 300 enzyme-related reactions in the body involve the mineral magnesium. These critical processes include the body’s production of energy, the transportation of countless vital minerals within the bloodstream, regulation of blood pressure and other cardiovascular functions, and control of the stress-response system. Perhaps most relevant to sleep, magnesium influences the levels of the neurotransmitter Gamma-Amniobutyric Acid (GABA) that impacts sleep quality.

Magnesium is found in abundance in foods like spinach, quinoa, almonds, avocados and tofu.  The recommended daily intake ranges from under 100mg/day for younger children to just over 400mg a day for adult males and roughly 300-350mg a day for adult females.  Those amounts can be difficult to ingest via food alone, so many people take additional supplemental magnesium to bolster what they get from their diet.

In addition to magnesium deficiency caused by diet or lack of supplemental intake, people can also lack magnesium due to absorption issues caused by conditions like gastroenteritis, IBS, Crohn’s  and Celiac diseases, diabetes,  and kidney disease.

Proper magnesium levels can decrease insomnia, while also promoting deeper, more restful sleep. They’ve also been shown to improve other complaints that bring on insomnia, like Restless Leg Syndrome.

Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland that has a large impact on your wake/sleep cycle. During the day, the production of melatonin is suppressed by the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which is light-activated. After the sun goes down, the pineal gland resumes its production of melatonin. Blood levels of melatonin are typically highest between 9am and 9pm, causing drowsiness and promoting sleep.

Emerging research suggests that supplemental melatonin may be helpful for some people, but both the amount taken and the timing of the dose are important. High levels of melatonin may decrease alertness during the day and could potentially lead to toxicity issues.  Even though melatonin supplements are widely available over the counter, it is highly recommended that you consult a medical professional to help properly manage your melatonin levels.

L-theanine

Found mostly in tea leaves, L-theanine is an amino acid which can help battle insomnia by reducing anxiety and racing thoughts that can prevent people from falling asleep.

If you drink black or green tea, you’re already getting some L-theanine. A typical cup of black tea contains about 25 mg. However, that same cup of black tea also contains 40-50mg of caffeine, so you can see why trying to get the sleep-improving levels of L-theanine (between 250-400mg according to one study) from tea alone could be a bit self-defeating.

L-theanine is not known to have any direct side-effects, though standard warnings of avoiding excess caffeine consumption still apply.  

Managing Sleep Quality through Testing and Treatment

Our medical staff is trained to diagnose and treat sleep issues. In addition to helping you manage sleep-promoting supplements, we also offer take-home sleep studies than can be used to diagnose sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea in the comfort of your own bed. We can help patients with OSA improve the quality of their sleep by providing APAP machines and masks.

Want to learn more about supplements for sleep or take-home sleep studies? Make an appointment today! Give us a call at 865-524-1234!

May is “Sleep Month” at Apple Healthcare. All month long we’ll be helping you learn how to get great sleep to enjoy great health! Follow us on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram, or subscribe to our Newsletter for more information.