In fact, we humans covet sleep so much we’ll try just about anything to help us sleep.
A recent study showed that 70 million Americans have problems sleeping.[i] Another study at The University of Warwick Medical School in the UK with nearly 50,000 people revealed that 17% of the population were dealing with sleep problems.[ii]
Insomnia has been deemed an ‘epidemic’ by researchers and medical scholars throughout Europe and the Americas.
When it feels like you are perpetually exhausted from lack of sleep, it’s tempting to ask your doctor for a prescription for something like Ambien® (zolpidem).
OTC sleep aids containing the antihistamine diphenhydramine prevent acetylcholine (ACh) action. Low ACh can lead to brain fog, mental confusion, delirium, blurred vision, memory loss and hallucinations.[iv]
And if you try to go ‘natural’, you’ll find most ‘natural’ sleep aids on the market contain synthetic melatonin.
But not only is this form of melatonin not natural, a study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine showed something very alarming.
Researchers found that synthetic melatonin content ranged from -83% to + 478%. Contrary to what was claimed on sleep supplement labels.[v]
If you are as sensitive to melatonin as a supplement as I am, taking a chance on nearly 500% more than what you thought you were getting is a big problem.
But I have good news for you because experienced neurohackers have found other ways to get a great night sleep. And all it takes are 3 supplements that are easy and relatively inexpensive to get.
Table of Contents
Best Sleep Supplements for 2019
Put together a stack with the following supplements and you’re almost guaranteed to get the sleep you need. Night after night.
Montmorency tart cherry contains the richest natural source of melatonin. Identical to the hormone secreted by the pineal gland in your brain.
The problem is this natural process in our modern society can be disrupted by exposure to artificial light from cellphones and tablet screens, medications, medical conditions, stress, food and drink.
And your circadian rhythm can also be disrupted by working the night shift. Or flying to the different time zone.
Supplementing with tart cherry provides melatonin when your natural melatonin is suppressed.
Tart cherry for sleep has been proven in clinical trials as well. For example, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was done with 20 volunteers who consumed tart cherry juice concentrate or a placebo for 7 days.
Sleep quality was recorded along with melatonin metabolites from urine samples.
Melatonin was significantly higher in the tart cherry group compared to no change in the placebo group.
The researchers recorded significant increases in time in bed, total sleep time, and sleep efficiency in the tart cherry volunteers.
And concluded that tart cherry juice does indeed increase melatonin. Which in turn improved sleep duration and quality in healthy men and women.[vii]
Tart cherry is also a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It contains anthocyanins which block COX-1 and COX-2 proinflammatory enzymes.
Several studies showed that tart cherry helped reduce muscle damage and pain after strenuous exercise. Offering faster relief from minor aches, stiffness and discomfort.[viii]
Tart cherry extract may help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep, and help repair body and brain while you sleep. Helping you feel refreshed and physically ready to start your day.
Recommended dosage of organic tart cherry juice from concentrate is 4 – 6 ounces (120 – 180 mL), or 500 mg of CherryPURE® which is tart cherry extract in a capsule about 90 minutes before bed.
Magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in your body. And a cofactor in more than 600 enzymatic reactions.
Some of these processes are directly involved in falling asleep and staying asleep. For example, magnesium stimulates GABAA receptors much the same as prescription sleep aid Ambien® (zolpidem).[ix]
This process also boosts nitric oxide (NO) which helps relax smooth muscle cells. Allowing for easier blood flow and lower blood pressure that precedes sleep.[x]
The problem is most people are unaware that they are living with a magnesium deficiency. Which is contributing to sleep and memory problems.[xiii]
Over the last 60 years, the magnesium content in fruit and vegetables has declined by 30%. And a further 80 – 90% of magnesium is lost during food processing.
But the thing is that supplementing with regular magnesium won’t do much good. Because it’s not very bioavailable. And the high dosage required to elevate your magnesium levels can cause diarrhea.
The best option is to choose the right form of magnesium. Magnesium Bisglycinate is a chelated form of this mineral bound to the amino acid glycine which boosts bioavailability.
Or use Magnesium Taurate which is magnesium bound to the amino acid taurine which inhibits neurotransmission (helping sleep), acts as an antioxidant, assists long-term potentiation, and helps magnesium cross the blood-brain barrier.
And the addition of taurine also aids in the movement of potassium, sodium, and calcium into and out of cells. Which helps alleviate muscle twitches that can keep you awake.
Recommended dosage of magnesium is 100 – 400 mg about 90 minutes before bed.
Tryptophan converts to 5-HTP, and then with the help of Vitamin B6 (P-5-P) produces serotonin.
The further conversion of serotonin into melatonin requires the presence of SAM-e.
The entire pathway from Tryptophan to 5-HTP to serotonin to melatonin provides a good mood during the day. And a calming influence preparing you for relaxation leading to sleep, and sound sleep all night.
Recommended dosage of L-Tryptophan is 250 mg about 90 minutes before bed.
Best Pre-formulated Sleep Stack for 2019
For years, I used the above 3 individual supplements as my sleep stack taken about 90 minutes before bed.
I’d fall asleep in less than a minute, and sleep through the night. Feeling refreshed the next morning.
Then in early 2018, Performance Lab® came out with a sleep stack using the same ingredients. It’s what I now use instead of individual supplements which is less expensive but still works like a charm.
Performance Lab® Sleep contains 100 mg of Magnesium (as Magnesium Bisglycinate, Magnesium Taurate, and BioGenesis® Magnesium), 500 mg of tart cherry extract (as CherryPURE®), and 250 mg of L-Tryptophan (as TryptoPure®).
Opti Nutra®, the company who makes Performance Lab® supplements also uses Plantcaps® vegan-friendly capsules which are made from tapioca. Rather than ‘veggie capsules’ which are actually a type of plastic made from pine or poplar tree pulp.
And there no fillers or additives! Just plain, pure, patented ingredients.
If you are craving a great night’s sleep, I highly recommend this premium stack.
Get Performance Lab® Sleep or
See my complete Performance Lab® Sleep Review or
See my deeper dive into how sleep works, how much sleep you really need, and health problems associated with not getting enough sleep in my post on “Best Nootropics for Sleep”.
[iii] Morgan P.T., Kehne J.H., Sprenger K.J., Malison R.T. “Retrograde effects of triazolam and zolpidem on sleep-dependent motor learning in humans.” Journal of Sleep Research. 2010 Mar;19(1 Pt 2):157-64. (source)
[iv] Fox C., Smith T., Maidment I., Chan W.Y., Bua N., Myint P.K., Boustani M., Kwok C.S., Glover M., Koopmans I., Campbell N. "Effect of medications with anti-cholinergic properties on cognitive function, delirium, physical function and mortality: a systematic review." Age and ageing. 43 (5): 604–15 (source)
[v] Erland L.A.E., Saxena P.K. “Melatonin Natural Health Products and Supplements: Presence of Serotonin and Significant Variability of Melatonin Content” Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine 2017 Feb 15; 13(2): 275–281. (source)
[vii] Howatson G., Bell P.G., Tallent J., Middleton B., McHugh M.P., Ellis J. “Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality.” European Journal of Nutrition. 2012 Dec;51(8):909-16 (source)
[viii] Kuelh K.S., Perrier E.T., Eliot D.L., Chesnutt J.C. “Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial.” Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition 2010 May 7;7:17. (source)