I’ve had Nootropics Expert readers asking me what I use to help me sleep. And what I use every night. This post is a detailed response to that question.
Performance Lab® Sleep is the best sleep and anti-insomnia supplement I’ve found.
Turns out it contains the same basic ingredients I’ve used as individual supplements over the last several years for the perfect night’s sleep.
I’ve dealt with insomnia all my adult life. But it wasn’t until I wrote a post recently on ‘Best Nootropics for Sleep’ that I understood why.
I was diagnosed with Adult ADD about 10 years ago. Studies show that those of us with ADD and ADHD commonly experience symptoms like daytime fatigue, breathing pauses during sleep, restless legs, and periodic limb movements in sleep.[i]
But even if you are not ADD you may be able to relate to some of these same issues.
Or you must have problems falling asleep. And staying asleep all night.
There’s nothing quite like a full deep sleep. And waking refreshed the next day. We all want that.
In this review I’ll show you how the ingredients in Performance Lab Sleep help you get to sleep, stay asleep all-night long, and wake up feeling refreshed the next day.
My Sleep Supplement Criteria
If you are desperate for a good night’s sleep like I was, you’ll try just about anything.
In fact, an entire industry has blossomed around sleep. McKinsey & Company reported in 2017 that the ‘sleep-health’ industry is collectively estimated to be worth up to $40 billion.[ii]
Products and services offered simply to get a good night’s sleep include everything from mattresses to sleep consultants to prescription and OTC sleep aids.
Prescription sleep medications alone generate over $1 billion per year just in the USA. With OTC natural and synthetic sleep aids bringing a few hundred million.
But prescription sleep meds come with some serious problems. Especially for the dedicated neurohacker.
We know that sleep is essential for memory consolidation at the end of every day. Using prescription sleep meds prevent that memory formation from happening.[iv]
So if you put a priority on memory and learning, sleep meds may not be the best option.
Which leaves us with natural supplements. But to sort through the 15 supplements I’ve researched and have been shown to help sleep, which ones work best?
Here are my three criteria for choosing the best nootropic supplements for sleep:
- Fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow
- Stay asleep all night
- Wake up feeling refreshed
Discovering Performance Lab®
If you deal with sleep problems one or more times per week and have searched for effective natural sleep aids …
… you know how challenging it is to find the right combination of supplements that work …
… and are safe to use long-term.
Nearly every stack of sleep supplements on the market feature a long list of herbs on the label. And most include synthetic melatonin.
Now you need melatonin for sleep without question. But melatonin is hormone. And like many people, I’ve had an unpleasant experience using melatonin as a supplement.
Some question the safety of supplementing with this hormone. Which we’ll talk about in a minute.
So I’ve been on the lookout for a sleep supplement stack that could help replace the individual supplements I’ve been taking every evening. A formula that does not include synthetic melatonin.
And recently I’ve become aware of Performance Lab® and their new line of supplements. Including a supplement stack for sleep that consolidates what I’ve been using as separate supplements for years.
Who Makes Performance Lab?
Performance Lab® is a new line of supplements made by Opti Nutra Advanced Nutraceuticals. The same people who produce Mind Lab Pro®.
I’ve been using Mind Lab Pro for over 2 years and have come to trust the company. And the quality of their supplements.
Opti Nutra is based in the U.K. and manufactures all their supplements in the USA.
Performance Lab® Whole-Food Multi is the foundation of their new supplement line.
Performance Lab Sleep extends the benefits of their Whole-Food Multi to cover your entire day and night. But you can also use this formula on its own to promote quality sleep.
Performance Lab® Sleep Ingredients
It helps to be familiar with the actual stages and mechanism of sleep and know how sleep works. So we can make the best decision when choosing a sleep supplement stack.
For a detailed explanation on the mechanism of sleep, see “How Sleep Works” in my post on Best Nootropics for Sleep.
But as I touched on earlier, I’ve had problems when using melatonin as a sleep supplement. And the thing is most sleep supplement stacks on the market use synthetic melatonin.
“Natural” melatonin was first extracted from the pineal gland of cows. But has fallen out of favor since the mad cow disease scare.
Synthetic melatonin for supplements is manufactured by reducing 5-methoxyindole-3-acetonitrile with sodium and ethanol. The resulting product is then acetylated by using glacial acetic acid and acetic anhydride. It’s then mixed with an inert carrier or binder for use in supplements.
A 2017 study investigated 31 commercial melatonin supplements. And screened each supplement for the presence of melatonin and serotonin.
Published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, the researchers found melatonin content ranged from -83% to + 478% of melatonin content listed on the label.
The team also found serotonin (which is a controlled substance) in 8 of the supplements tested.[vi]
The results of this study on supplements containing melatonin are very troubling.
Because if you are sensitive to melatonin as a supplement in the first place like I am, you may be getting less, or nearly 500% more than what you thought you were getting.
And if you are using SSRI antidepressants, using a melatonin supplement with undeclared serotonin can cause Serotonin Syndrome. Which can be fatal.
Performance Lab Sleep does supply melatonin. But as a tightly controlled natural source of this neurotransmitter from Montmorency Tart Cherry.
Montmorency Tart Cherry 500 mg (CherryPURE® 50:1 concentrate)
Montmorency tart cherry is nature’s richest natural source of melatonin. It’s identical to the hormone secreted by the pineal gland in your brain.
Your pineal gland receives signals from your hypothalamus in response to your circadian rhythm and environmental cues like light and temperature.
This natural process can be disrupted by exposure to artificial light (i.e. mobile and tablet screens), medical conditions, medications, stress, food, and drink.
Your circadian rhythm can also get out of whack by flying to a different time zone. Or working the night shift.
Supplementing with tart cherry provides melatonin when your natural melatonin may be suppressed.
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial 20 volunteers consumed tart cherry juice concentrate or placebo for 7 days.
Measures of sleep quality were recorded along with urine samples to determine levels of melatonin metabolites.
Total melatonin content was significantly higher in the tart cherry group compared to no change in the placebo group.
And there were significant increases in time in bed, total sleep time and sleep efficiency in the tart cherry volunteers.
The researchers concluded that consumption of tart cherry juice concentrate provides an increase in melatonin. Which improved sleep duration and quality in healthy men and women.[vii]
The added benefit of tart cherry comes from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Repairing your body while you sleep. Tart cherry contains anthocyanins which block COX-1 and COX-2 proinflammatory enzymes.
Tart cherry has been found in several studies to reduce muscle damage and pain during strenuous exercise.[viii] Offering faster relief from minor aches, stiffness and discomfort following muscle exertion.
Tart cherry extract in Performance Lab Sleep may help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep, and help repair your body and brain. Leaving you feeling refreshed and physically ready to start your day.
Magnesium 100 mg (from Magnesium Bisglycinate 300 mg, Magnesium Taurate 200 mg, BioGenesis™ 200 mg)
Magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in your body. And a cofactor in more than 300 enzymatic reactions.
Some of these processes are directly involved in falling asleep and staying asleep. Magnesium helps calm nerve cell signaling; relaxing and calming muscles and brain activity.
Magnesium helps relax smooth muscle cells. Allowing for easier blood flow and lower blood pressure that precedes sleep.
Many are living with a magnesium deficiency and unaware that this lack may be contributing to sleep and memory problems.[xii]
Regular magnesium is not very bioavailable. Performance Lab Sleep solves the bioavailability issue by using 3 forms of magnesium for your body and brain.
Magnesium Bisglycinate is a chelated form of magnesium bound to the amino acid glycine which improves bioavailability.
Magnesium Taurate is magnesium bound to the amino acid taurine which inhibits neurotransmission, acts as a heavy metal antioxidant, assists long-term potentiation, and helps magnesium cross the blood-brain barrier.
BioGenesis™ Magnesium is Opti Nutra’s proprietary magnesium grown in lab-cultured yeast. Producing a nature-identical form of magnesium which enhances bioavailability.
The combination of three forms of magnesium provides a total of 100 mg of elemental magnesium.
L-Tryptophan (TryptoPure®) 250 mg
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 (in Performance Lab Sleep), and Vitamin B6 because both are required to synthesize serotonin.
Vitamin B6 is available as one of the essential vitamins in Performance Lab’s Multi for men and women.
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.
TryptoPure® used in Performance Lab Sleep is made by Japanese company Ajinmoto® who are global innovators of amino acid supplements.
The capsules used in Performance Lab® Sleep are so unique I had to include them the list of ingredients. And here’s why …
The premium ingredients used in Sleep will only provide the benefit promised if your body can use them. How the ingredients get into our body matters a great deal.
Every other pre-formulated sleep supplement on the market use either gelatin capsules, or vegetarian capsules.
Gelatin capsules are made by boiling down animal hoofs, bones, and connective tissue to form a gel-like substance. This material cools and dries. Then is formed into capsules.
Vegetarian capsules are Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose which are made from pine or poplar tree pulp. The end result is a type of plastic.
Performance Lab uses Plantcaps® which are made from pullulan (fermented tapioca). A much costlier way to encapsulate their supplements. But safer, vegan-friendly, and disintegrates right away once you take it.
And Performance Lab infuses each capsule with a prebiotic that helps support your digestion.
I’m not aware of any other quality supplement manufacturer who goes the extra mile by using Plantcaps.
Performance Lab® Sleep Dosage
The amount of each ingredient listed on the label is for Performance Lab’s recommended 2-capsules per day.
I recommend using 2-capsules about 90 minutes before you’re planning on going to bed. And if you have real problems with insomnia like I do, you can safely boost your dose to 4-capsules.
However, use extreme caution if you are using a prescription SSRI medication. Because Tryptophan increases serotonin. And SSRI’s increase serotonin.
It is unlikely that the low doses of L-Tryptophan in Performance Lab Sleep will lead to Serotonin Syndrome if taken with SSRI’s. But you may want to check with your doctor to be safe.
How Performance Lab® Sleep Works in Real Life
Taking Performance Lab Sleep 90 minutes before you plan on sleeping means you should fall asleep soon after your head hits the pillow.
Anxiety levels should decrease during the day and feelings of happiness increase.
Memory should improve. Music may sound better. And feelings of self-esteem could get a boost.
Many neurohackers even report being able to taper off prescription antidepressant meds. And never again needing to use a prescription sleep med to get to sleep.
Performance Lab® Sleep is Good Value
For example, here in the USA at the time I write this:
Tart Cherry Juice organic concentrate costs me about $8 per week ($32 per month)
Magnesium Glycinate chelate is about $15 for a 2-month supply. So figure around $8 per month for magnesium.
L-Tryptophan as TrypoPure is about $18 for a 3-month supply. So it works out to about $6 per month.
So my total sleep supplement budget before finding Performance Lab Sleep worked out to around $46 per month.
Performance Lab Sleep for a one-month supply is only $35.
And you get a 5% discount by ordering 2-bottles. Or a 10% discount when ordering 3-bottles of Performance Lab Sleep.
Pros & Cons of Performance Lab Sleep
Opti Nutra has taken an extra step to include Plantcaps® instead of regular vegetarian capsules in their sleep stack. These vegan caps are made from tapioca. And are infused with Prebiotics for better digestion and bioavailability of the nootropics in this sleep supplement.
All of the other competitors with a quality sleep formula use HPMC vegetarian capsules which are a semi-synthetic polymer made from wood pulp.
Now, let’s look at what I think are the pros and cons of this premium sleep supplement.
- Full disclosure on the amount of each ingredient
- Highest quality, nature-identical, eco-friendly BioGenesis™ and patented ingredients
- No added ingredients
- No World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned substances
- Vegan-friendly ingredients including capsules
- Tested prior to encapsulation for allergens, GMOs, microbes, pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, and other contaminants
- Tested again to confirm potency, purity, and activity after encapsulation
- Ships in recyclable cardboard security boxes filled with biodegradable packing peanuts
- Competitively priced
- Empty bottle, money-back guarantee (less shipping)
- 24/7 customer support
- Only available on their website
I honestly can’t think of any other cons for this sleep supplement. It works for me and I truly hope it works as well for you.
Nootropics Expert Recommendation
Pricing of Performance Lab Sleep is competitive for what you get. Buying these supplements separately can cost up to twice as much depending on where you get them.
But the biggest advantage with this sleep supplement stack is it avoids what every other “natural” sleep formula on the market uses – synthetic melatonin. At doses much higher than most would consider safe.
With Performance Lab Sleep you get a very small but effective dose of natural melatonin from tart cherry.
Performance Lab Sleep pairs well with the company’s Whole-Food Multi formula which supplies the B-Vitamins that ensures your body can produce serotonin.
Opti Nutra only offers their Performance Lab products including their Sleep formula on their website. You will not find it on Amazon or other online retailers.
Opti Nutra goes the extra mile by using top-notch ingredients in this formula. Including nature-identical BioGenesis magnesium, peer reviewed Tart Cherry extract, and market-leader TryptoPure. Even their product packaging is second to none.
The company uses vegan PlantCaps for capsules to ensure quick absorption. And testing before and after encapsulation of each batch of product.
And Opti Nutra also offers a risk-free, “empty bottle”, money-back guarantee if you are not happy with any of their products.
So if you’d like to get off the prescription sleep meds, or simply haven’t had much luck with other natural sleep formulas – I recommended giving Performance Lab Sleep a try.
If you’d like to try Performance Lab Sleep, or learn more about this exceptional line of supplements, please go to their website for more: www.PerformanceLab.com
[i] Bjorvatn B., Brevik E.J., Lundervold A.J., Halmøy A., Posserud M.B., Instanes J.T., Haavik J. “Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Report High Symptom Levels of Troubled Sleep, Restless Legs, and Cataplexy” Frontiers in Psychology. 2017 Sep 20; 8: 1621 (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)
[vi] 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)
[ix] Palacios-Prado N., Chapuis S., Panjkovich A., Fregeac J., Nagy J.I., Bukauskas F.F. “Molecular determinants of magnesium-dependent synaptic plasticity at electrical synapses formed by connexin36.” Nature Communications. 2014 Aug 19;5:4667. (source)