There’s nothing quite like a full deep sleep. And waking refreshed the next day.
In fact, we humans covet sleep so much we’ll try just about anything to help us sleep in 2023.
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.
And 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).
Drugs like zolpidem are GABAA receptor agonists that bind to the α-1 subunit, which is believed to be responsible for the drug’s sedative properties.
Turns out this mechanism of action is very similar to using benzodiazepines (benzos) for sleep. They both cause problems with memory consolidation.[iii]
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 in 2023.
And all it takes are 3 supplements that are easy and relatively inexpensive to get.
Table of Contents
Best Sleep Supplements for 2023
Put together a stack with the following supplements and you’re sure 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.
Your pineal gland receives a signal from your hypothalamus in response to your circadian rhythm and environmental clues like light and temperature.[vi]
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 a 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 natural 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 show 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 your body and brain while you sleep. Feeling 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 GABA action by magnesium helps block the excitability of NMDA receptors. Calming nerve cell signaling which relaxes muscles and brain activity.
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]
Magnesium ions control the ion channels required for brain cell signaling. And is critical for the neuroplasticity required for memory consolidation while you sleep.
Magnesium is required for adenosine triphosphate (ATP) synthesis. Which is the main energy source produced by your mitochondria in nearly every cell in your brain and body.[xi] And for the synthesis of DNA and RNA.[xii]
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 you 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.
Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) is a plant native to China and is also found growing in temperate zones throughout the world.
Sea Buckthorn is a natural source of serotonin which goes on the naturally produce the sleep hormone melatonin in your brain. This plant is also rich in flavonoids and other antioxidants, fat- or water-soluble vitamins such as vitamins C and E, β-carotene, and lycopene, phytosterols, amino acids, and minerals.
This natural sleep supplement, Sea Buckthorn helps your body and brain repair itself during the night, supports natural sleep cycles, and contributes to a more restful night.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid and precursor to serotonin, melatonin, and Vitamin B3 (niacin) in your body and brain.
Tryptophan is one of the best natural sleep aids available without the unwanted side effects of prescription sleep meds.
You’ll get better results supplementing with Tryptophan as a sleep aid by stacking it with magnesium, and Vitamin B6 because both are required to synthesize serotonin.
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 2023
For years, I used the above 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 NutriGenesis® Magnesium), 500 mg of tart cherry extract (as CherryPURE®), 200 mg of L-Tryptophan, and 100 mg certified organic Sea Buckthorn.
Performance Lab® also uses NutriCaps® 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”.
[i] “The National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR)” USA National Institute of Health (source)
[ii] “Global ‘sleeplessness epidemic’ affects an estimated 150 million in developing world” Warwick warwick.ac.uk (source)
[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)
[vi] Macchi M.M., Bruce J.N. “Human pineal physiology and functional significance of melatonin.” Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology. 2004 Sep-Dec;25(3-4):177-95. (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)
[ix] Pigeon W.R., Bishop T.M., Marcus J.A. “Advances in the management of insomnia” F1000 Prime Reports 2014; 6: 48. (source)
[x] De Baaij J.H.F., Hoenderop J.G.J., Bindels R.J.M. “Magnesium in Man: Implications for Health and Disease” Physiological Reviews Vol. 95, No. 1 (source)
[xi] Garfinkel L., Garfinkel D. “Magnesium regulation of the glycolytic pathway and the enzymes involved.” Magnesium. 1985;4(2-3):60-72. (source)
[xii] Grober U., Schmidt J., Kisters K. “Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy” Nutrients. 2015 Sep; 7(9): 8199–8226. (source)
[xiii] Rude R.K., Singer F.R., Gruber H.E. “Skeletal and hormonal effects of magnesium deficiency.” Journal of American College of Nutrition. 2009 Apr;28(2):131-41. (source)
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may also contain other affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.
Just wanted to ask a quick question about your Tart Cherry recommendation….
Do you have to use Montmorency tart cherry to get those benefits that you listed? Or will other types of Tart (or Sour) cherries also produce similar effects; e.g. Morello cherries?
David Tomen says
James, the highest concentration of melatonin is found in Balaton and Montmorency tart cherries (Prunus cerasus) (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11600041/). It may be found in lower concentrations in other sour cherry varieties. But those two have the highest concentration.
Hello. I’ve read in the article on 5-HTP that should be balanced with L-tyrosine. Is this the case for the Performance Lab® Sleep? should I combine it with L-tyrosine? If so, what would be the proportion? Would supplements of L-tyrosine create any issue to my thyroid (normal values of T4)? thank you
David Tomen says
Georgiana, Performance Lab Sleep only contains 250 mg L-Tryptophan. You also get some L-Tryptophan and melatonin from the Tart Cherry ingredient. But it should not be high enough of a dose to upset your serotonin/dopamine balance.
However, look up what dopamine deficiency feels like. If you start feeling any of those symptoms then you may want to add L-Tyrosine to what you use during the day.
Ps: she also takes vitamin B complex daily.
Hi David, do you have articles about sleepwalking? What can one do to try to understand or fix that?
David Tomen says
Laura, I don’t have any articles on sleepwalking but great idea! Thanks.
I suggest you try increasing your Omega-3 levels by using 900 – 1,000 mg DHA in the morning. It will take a while to build up your Omega-3s but it’ll happen with daily use.
Also 400 mg magnesium, 500 mg L-Tryptophan, 300 mg PharmaGABA, 400 mg Lemon Balm, and 200 mg L-Theanine all about 60 minutes before bed.
Will magnesium citrate be as effective for sleep as the bisglycinate or taurate forms? I take magnesium citrate nightly for its positive effects on constipation and in hope it will help my chronic insomnia.
David Tomen says
Michelle, I personally use 400 mg Magnesium Bisglycinate about 60 mins. before bed and it works great. Magnesium Taurate should provide similar benefits.
Magnesium citrate cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. So, it is used throughout your body except by your brain.
Hello David, I would like to know how many Mg of Tart Cherry concentrate 50:1, can I consume without it being harmful?
– And the other question is if this version that I attach below is good enough? Thank you for your time.
NOW Foods – Tart Cherry extract
David Tomen says
Ariel, we do not have any studies that show the safe upper limit for dosage of Tart Cherry extract. You’ll need to ask the manufacturer of the supplement you decide to use.
The NOW Foods tart cherry you asked about contains the type of “other ingredients” you should avoid because they can be toxic. Choose a pure Tart Cherry extract like they use in the Performance Lab Sleep supplement with nothing else added but the capsule.
If you want a standalone Tart Cherry supplement I suggest one like this: https://amzn.to/3nfOhh8 because it does not contain any toxic ingredients.
First of all I want to thank you for your website and the work you put into it, helping people.
My name is Dennis from the Netherlands. I have trouble staying asleep since 2,5 years (it was beginning of my extreme burnout). Stil trying to recover, had 3 major setbacks in the recovery process. Tried a lot for staying asleep: CBD, CBG, Magnesium Taurate, L-Ornithine, Gaba, Valeriaan, L-Theanine or capsules from a brand that contain a mixture (gaba, valeriaan, magnesium and l-theanine). Nothing really works to really sleep through the night.
Currently using during the day: CBD/CBG, Curcumine, Q10, Acetyl-L-Carnitine (couple of days) and a multi. Before going to bed CBG, Magnesium taurate and L-Ornithine
Bought the Performance Lab Sleep capsules. The came today so I’m curious what it does. I see you mentioning al the time to take them about 90 min before bed time but on the label it says 30 min. What is better?
David Tomen says
Dennis, timing of any sleep supplement depends on your system and how you metabolize these supplements. I take mine 90 mins before bed but you may need to use them 30 mins. before bed.
Considering your history you may find you need a double dose of this sleep supplement. And you’ll get the most benefit from using it daily for at least a couple of weeks. People share that PL Sleep works best after a couple of weeks of use.
Thank you very much for you reply David. Much appreciated. I’ll play some with the timing to find what works. So strange, sleep was always my friend up until 3 yrs ago. Now I frequently wake up after 4-5 hours, usually after a dream, Maybe I don’t sleep deep enough (higher cortisol?) and/or my body seems to be reacting more to dreaming because I feel more alert/aroused waking up after a dream. Sometimes unable to fall asleep again sometimes falling asleep only to wake up a few times more (after dreaming again).
David Tomen says
Dennis, I looked back over what you said above and you mentioned “extreme burnout”. I have learned that extreme and long-term stress reeks havoc in your brain and throughout your system. And essentially hard-wires the pathway between your amygdala and hippocampus.
To understand what happens go to my PTSD article here: https://nootropicsexpert.com/how-to-naturally-treat-ptsd-caused-by-covid-19/. And scroll down to the section called, “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Your Brain:”
Now, I am NOT saying you have PTSD. But chronic stress is the same no matter how it is caused.
That’s one explanation. Another is aging and what happens to our brain as we age. Some things can happen that will accelerate that and cause problems. With things like hormones out of whack. Nutrient deficiencies. And others.
I suggest you keep on reading because something here will set a light bulb off in your brain. And you’ll have an “aha” moment.
Thank you for dedicating your valuable time to help people, you are a miracle person,
In my country I only get ALA from Now foods.
but I’m worried because, it includes both S- and R-forms of lipoic acid. It is not a supplement that is only R-Lipoic Acid as you recommended in other comments, what risks do I face by consuming this version? I am worried about that.
– Also I would also like to know, please, why do I get sleepy when I consume good quality multivitamins?, including Wholefood Multivitamins
– And finally I would like to know how much Milk Thistle to use and how much TUDCA to use for liver problems? Thank you.
David Tomen says
Mabel, most Alpha Lipoic Acid supplements are offered as S-Lipoic Acid and R-Lipoic Acid because R-Lipoic Acid is highly unstable on its own. There is nothing wrong with taking a combo supplement like that one if that is all you can get. But it also helps to find a supplement that does not contain toxic “other ingredients” like magnesium stearate and silicon dioxide.
No idea why a high quality Multi makes you sleepy. But if that is the case then take the before bed.
For Milk Thistle and TUDCA follow the directions on the bottle label. But you’ll experience the most benefit by using them daily and long-term.
Hi David, I would like to know please if the organic tart cherry juice concentrate from “Bulk Supplements” is good enough as the one you recommend, because Performance Lab® Sleep is not available in my country, the product is this: Bulk Supplements Tart Cherry Extract powder
– And the other question please is, In my country I only get Potassium Citrate, what percentage of absorption does it have compared to Potasium Gluconate?, is it just as effective?
David Tomen says
Jose, Bulk Supplements is a trustworthy company who tests their product. So, I would think their Tart Cherry Extract powder would be effective as a natural way to boost melatonin.
And Potassium Citrate may my be absorbed as well as Potassium Gluconate but enough will absorb to provide your system with the potassium it needs.
Thank you for your amazing work and quick respond to our problems, we appreciate so much and so grateful for having you in our society.
I am seeking help to get a good night sleep, I am 50yrs women, I fall asleep but when I get up to use washroom at middle of night I have a hard time falling asleep I don’t know if because of menopause or life stress, overthinking any way I was wondering if I get these products while I am taking NutriGenesis® Multi for Women what do you recommend.
David Tomen says
Masa, the ingredients I describe above that are in Performance Lab Sleep do work. I use it myself. And it’s effective. Many people report that it works better after daily use for at least a couple of weeks. It’s not like Ambien or some other prescription sleep aid.
And don’t worry because we’re all guilty of over-thinking this stuff. I think it better to just start using something and see if it works the way others say it does. It may need a little tweaking here and there. Maybe adding some CBD Oil or GABA to it. But I suggest starting with PL Sleep first. And we’ll go from there.
Hi David, sorry I cannot see where to post a new comment . Last night I took 250 mg of pure magnesium glycinate from the compounding pharmacy and about 460 mgs of Taurine but still woke in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep . Should I take more of each? I have vitamin b6 in 40 mg also from compounding pharmacy , should I add this? All 90 mins before bed with or without food? I am about to go back on my iron supplement floradix which does include b vitamins which I think u have to take in the morning? I am working from
Home all year with toddler and been quite stressed . I’m really tired from lack of sleep and had insomnia where I wake up and can’t get back to sleep for about 2 years . I’m so tired from last night and I get migraines as well.
David Tomen says
Emma, if all you are doing for sleep is using magnesium that’s only part of the solution. I suggest adding L-Tryptophan and Tart Cherry Juice from concentrate which both naturally raise melatonin. You should also be using a high quality B-Complex which can be taken in the morning with or without food. See if that helps.
Thanks David . I only noticed now that you replied to me . Thanks I’ll get the the L try , can I take that along with tart cherry juice and that’s it? I find b vitamins and magnesium make me a bit moody? Thanks again.
David Tomen says
Emma, try Tart Cherry Juice from concentrate and see if it helps.
Hello! could you do an article talking about oliamide, please? We still have many doubts about this new nootropic.
David Tomen says
Sandro, I’m not likely going to do a review of oliamide because there is little evidence it’ll ever become a popular nootropic. While there is some evidence that it may induce sleep, studies also show it affects dopamine, GABA, serotonin and cannabinoid receptors. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11561096/. Not the type of compound that many can take with confidence that it will produce a particular result.
Thank you very much for the answer, David! by the way, in your experience, what do you think could help me? I wake up every morning at 4 am and I can’t go back to sleep … I thank you very much if you can help me with your help …
David Tomen says
Sandro, what’s worked for me is Charlotte’s Web Calm gummies. I take two of them before bed. You’ll find a link to them near the bottom of this review: https://nootropicsexpert.com/cbd-oil/
Thank you again, David!
Thanks for this excellent review. During a lot of time, I felt alone and lost, but now, I know that many people are struggling with similar problems than me. During more than 20 years I had have some kind of with insomnia and sleep disorders. I don’t know if my body can’t use or synthetize correctly the hormones responsible of sleeping. My problems are the constant awakenings. Normally I have a healthy life, making sports, eating healthy. I can go to sleep easily, but I start to wake up two hours after, and I can’t go again to sleep.
I started to use valerian during 2 or 3 years and then, my body started to request something more potent. I changed to melatonin but it didn’t work. For 4 or 5 years, I was using diphenhydramine and it was awful. Initially I could sleep all night but I had a very bad brain fog and humor during all day. Then, I asked professional counseling, starting psychotherapy because it’s too difficult for me disconnect from the work. I started again to make sports, changing my workout routine to the morning. I tried meditation and occasionally, yoga. However, nothing worked. Six years ago, my psychiatrist gave me clonazepam, it was wonderful during 2 years, because I could slept all night and my humor on the mornings was ok. However, I started with a few drops and gradually I increased it to 2.5 mg and then my anxiety to consume it was worse. The psychiatrist changed me to levomepromazine, but it was the same history and this, increased also my weight. One year ago, I moved to other country and my doctor here gave me zolpidem, it was the worst sensation of my life; I could sleep only 3 hours, my memory failed, I was very confused all day long and I had many suicidal thoughts. I decided to suspend it four months ago. I am tired that doctors only want to give you potent drugs without concerning of the side effects or the causes of the problem. I retake the psychotherapy and meditation but unfortunately, I can only sleep 2-3 h per day. I tried again valerian and melatonin, but without improving my hours of sleeping. Two weeks ago, I bought Unplug from Motion Nutrition; I sleep deeply, but only the same 2-3 h. I feel very desperate, and this generate anxiety and a vicious circle. Yesterday night I found your blog and I have seen the light, I did not know the nootropics. I hope you can help me. I am going to order the Performance Lab-Sleep or maybe you can suggest me other alternative. Again, my big problem is staying sleep, not falling sleep. Have you read about phenibut?
Best and thank you very much.
David Tomen says
Jhon, my advice is to stay clear of Phenibut. Especially considering your experience with other medications.
Start with Performance Lab Sleep. You’ll be safe by adding another 300 mg magnesium and 200 mg L-Theanine it if you need more help.
Report back and we can tweak this stack more if needed.
Thanks David. I will do that. Magnesium I which presentation?
David Tomen says
Jhin, magnesium glycinate is best for sleep.
Thanks for the video.
What’s your thoughts on magnesium
l-threonate which cross blood brain barrier over normal magnesium.
David Tomen says
Ash, “normal magnesium” cannot easily cross the blood-brain barrier. Which is the reason why people use Magnesium L-Threonate. It was specifically designed to cross the BBB.
Thanks for your fantastic work. I need help from you:
Last year I was diagnosed with CSF imflammation and treated with antiviral and antibiotic medications in hospital. Since then it is almost impossible for me to fall asleep… Throughout this year I had very little sleep which lead me to develop anxiety and depression. Sleepless nights were so bad that I had to search for help with psychiatrist who presribed me Mianserin (antidepressant). It worked more or less, sleep improvement was noticable but has not completly cured me. I got to the point that I decided to cut-out on this drug and after weeing it of the symptoms came back. This means that the drug did not cure my ilness but masked the symptoms.
Nowadays I live with full blown anxiety and completly disregulated nervous system.
I suspect that this virus (or medications I got during my hospital visit) caused some kind of deficiency – either in vitamins or aminoacids resulting in such symptoms.
Can you help?
David Tomen says
Paul, it sounds like your system never recovered from the antibiotic regimen you were on. Serotonin is mostly synthesized in your gut. And goes on to eventually produce melatonin which helps you sleep. But if your gut is still a mess you can try all kinds of nootropics and get poor or unexpected results.
Please see my post on the gut-brain connection here: https://nootropicsexpert.com/psychobiotics-gut-brain-connection/
There is plenty of evidence that once you get your microbiome happy again then your mood improves. I’ve personally found that every time I need to use antibiotics that it takes me minimum of 2 – 3 months of recovery using a high quality probiotic and prebiotic. For the latter try the Performance Lab Prebiotic here: https://nootropicsexpert.com/performance-lab-prebiotic-review/.
Mianserin is a tetracyclic antidepressant that works on histamine, serotonin and norepinephrine receptors (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mianserin). So if that worked more or less you have possibly already narrowed down the root cause of your anxiety and depression when it comes to neurotransmitters.
So I’d suggest experimenting with the precursors for each of those and see how you feel. For example; L-Tryptophan for serotonin and L-Tyrosine for dopamine/norepinephrine.
But these major neurotransmitters need the cofactors of several vitamins and minerals for their synthesis. So make sure you are using a very high quality multivitamin supplement like the one by Performance Lab (https://nootropicsexpert.com/performance-lab-whole-food-multi-review/).
Also, use the supplements suggested in this post to help you sleep. Some of which we’ve already covered. And let me know how you’re doing in a couple of weeks.
Thanks for taking on that topic.
So far I have not been able to find anything which could help me with the problem except the forementioned Mianserin.
So far I experimented with the following:
– b-complex high doses – proved to cause more anxiety
– niacin – max 500mg per day – proved to make me more anxious
– l-tryptophan (by swanson) – max 500mg per day seems to make my anxiety worse
– probiotics (rhamnosus R0011 & Lactobacillus helveticus R0052) also seemed to make my anxiety worse…
Once I thought I found my golden nootropic (greek yoghurt + cacao + honey before bed). This combination allowed me to have relatively good sleep but has not lasted for long. After a week my poor sleep returned despite me eating this set before bed :/
I noticed improvement after supplementing with Zinc. After introducing Zinc (30mg a day) I managed to go down on mianserin from 60mg/day to 30mg. I checked my copper blood levels and ceruloplasmin after 2 months of Zinc supplementation and they are OK but I feel that the profound effect that Zinc had on me is diminishing. Now I’m on 45mg of mianserin.
I’m starting to feel helpless since everything I try seems to help just for a little while.
How long should it take for me to start experiencing change in symptoms after introducing supplementation either with tryptophan or tyrosine ? I have yet to try tyrosine but basing on the history of my earlier tries I’m afraid to make things worse.
Should I take tryptophan/tyrosine despite feeling that the situation is worsening? Does my body need time to adapt to these new supplements? Is it possible for them to work in the pattern – first two weeks I’ll feel worse and after that the feelings will change to better?
I live in Europe and I can’t find a local Performance Lab distributor so I have to rely on other manufacturers.
David Tomen says
Paul, Mianserin is a tetracyclic antidepressant which is an antagonist of histamine and serotonin receptors Stopping hitamine H1 receptors from firing in a specific part of your brain helps REM sleep. And serotonin helps produce melatonin which is involved in sleep.
While we do not have a nootropic that directly affects histamine or its receptors, we can boost serotonin by using 500 mg L-Tryptophan ‘before bed’. And you can naturally boost melatonin to help you sleep with tart cherry juice before bed.
400 mg of magnesium before bed helps you sleep because it stimulates GABAA receptors much the same as prescription sleep aid Ambien® (zolpidem). And works with L-Trytophan to produce melatonin.
L-Tyrosine helps create dopamine which you do NOT want to increase before bed because it will likely prevent you from sleeping. L-Tyrosine is typically dosed morning, noon and mid-afternoon. While L-Tryptophan is taken before bed.
You need the B-Vitamins and niacin. I suggest reducing your dose until you do not experience anxiety. Zinc needs to taken with 1.5 mg of copper because no matter what your labs say, it reduces copper which needs to be replaced.
Your body does not need to ‘adapt’ to these supplements and you should experience their effects within 1/2 – 1 hour of taking them. If you begin experiencing negative side effects after two weeks of using them it’s likely because your dosage was too high. And built up in your system until your body protested.
I think you’re on the right track here. But adjust your dosages and timing. Please see my post on how sleep works here to understand why: https://nootropicsexpert.com/best-nootropics-for-sleep/
And BTW, Performance Lab is only available from their website and they do ship to most European countries.
So far I have tried to include niacin, b-complex (during the day) and tryptophan 250mg + magnesium citrate + mianserin before bed.
I don’t think tryptophan helps me fall and stay asleep. Nothing hapens really… I bought l-tyrosine but am waiting with using this after my body adapts to more niacin and b-complex.
One neurologist “diagnosed” my current state as neurasthenia. Do you have an article about that? Maybe you could make one ? 🙂
Do you recommend something for this particular ilness ?
Thanks in advance!
David Tomen says
Paul, how old is your doctor? Neurasthenia lost its popularity as a diagnosis in the early 1900’s. It’s now called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome by many doctors.
When you do a search of Nootropics Expert for “chronic fatigue” the B-Vitamins, iodine and zinc turn up. And a few other nootropics. And a couple of posts that may help including these:
Chronic fatigue is a symptom of a system that is out of whack including things like mitochondrial dysfunction and neurotransmitters out of balance. That can cause a host of issues including insomnia. So please start researching your problems from that angle.
You L-Tryptophan dose before bed may be more effective at 500 mg. I would NOT suggest using L-Tyrosine after 4 PM because it increases dopamine. Which if too high in the evening will prevent you from sleeping.
In the mean-time try; 500 mg L-Tryptophan, 400 mg magnesium, and 6 – 8 oz. of tart cherry juice to naturally increase melatonin.
Dear David, I bought separately Magnesium + L tryptophane + Tart Cherry.
I have read accurately the suggested dosage, and the ingredeitns in the “performance lab sleep”. No problem for Magnesium and Tryptophane.
Could you please help me on the dosage of Tart Cherry ?
I bought “BEST NATURALS” Tart Cherry where it says, for 1 capsule: “Tart cherry extract 1000mg (Prunus cerasus from 250 mg of a 4:1 extract)”
In the “Performance lab sleep” i read “Tart Cherry 500mg (50:1 concentrated ratio)” for 2 capsules serving size.
Should i get one pill of my Tart Cherry for my sleeping stack ? Or 2 ?
Would it be the corresponding amount of 1 mg of melatonin, more or less? Or this is not easy to say?
David Tomen says
Ivan, really impossible to say how much natural melatonin a tart cherry extract would provide.
I’d try two capsules of the tart cherry you have and see how that works. If it makes you feel a little sick or ‘off’ the next day then cut it back to one capsule.
Dear David, I find your stack for sleep very good. I will use to to cycle with Valerian.
It makes me sleep 7 hours almost straight (except for my usual toilet pit stop 🙂
The only thing is that during all the next day i am a bit sleepy, and the mood seems to be worse, it causes me some kind of depression (or maybe it’s just a coincidence due to my girlfriend being a bit bitchy these days).
Do you think my dosage is fine or i could fine tune something?
I am taking:
250 Mg triptophane (I started with 500 mg triptophane, but that made me feel a bit stoned, it hit me quite hard, so now i am emptying half of capsule and feels a bit lighter)
2 capsules of magnesium (each of 200mg, of which 100 mg citrate, 50 mg taurate and 50 mg bysglicinate)
2 tart cherry extract, as you suggested me before (each 1000mg Prunus cerasus from 250 mg of a 4:1 extract).
Many thanks in advance.
David Tomen says
Ivan, I think melatonin may be the culprit here because that is what your side effects the next day suggest based on my experience. Try cutting the Tart Cherry Extract dosage in half and see if that helps.
And you may want to knock another 50 – 100 mg of L-Tryptophan off as well. But start with the Tart Cherry and see what happens.
Thanks man, i think you already identified the problem.
I cut the tart cherry in half, I slept the usual 7 hours, but today i am much fresher and more active. I also removed some more Tryptophan, maybe i took 200 mg, will try with 150mg maybe. It’s great if this keeps working, cycling with valerian + tart cherry. So i can get rid of melatonin completely! I will see how it goes in the next few weeks.
In the meantime, many thanks for your help!
You state in this page that L-tryptophan is one of the best natural sleep aids available without the unwanted side effects of prescription sleep meds.
I have lots of issues when it comes to falling asleep (excessive worrying, intrusive thoughts). Therefore, I would like to ask you why L-tryptophan, not 5-HTP is recommended for sleep? As far as I understand tryptophan is converted into 5-htp, which crosses blood brain barrier easier. So the question arises why would I use tryptophan when I can take 5-HTP instead Is there a difference between using tryptophan and 5-HTP for sleep? Thank you.
David Tomen says
Justin, good question. I suggest L-Tryptophan because it’s safer and gentler than 5-HTP. More steps on the way to making melatonin. It’s very easy to use too high a dose of 5-HTP which can produce unpleasant side effects.
I personally don’t get much use out of supplements that support serotonin and melatonin. They both leave me feeling depressed and groggy in the morning. I seem to respond better to inositol, taurine and magnesium. I also use gaba stimulating herbals like lemon balm and skullcap teas.
Any idea why serotonin support supplements would make me feel depressed and groggy?
David Tomen says
Matt, likely because you already have adequate levels of serotonin and melatonin in your system. Balance is key.