Before just throwing money at your sleep hygeine and hoping for that illusive 8 hours on your Fitbit, look at singular ingredients which effectively improve your stress symptoms and aid recovery in the long term as opposed to anything that’s just going to knock you out and have you dragging your knuckles on your morning commute.
There’s so many different products containing these ingredients and in different dosages, so be mindful of certain ingredients alongside other compounds that come in the form of higher concentration proprietary blends before purchasing and potentially making a habit of it.
In no particular order, here are a few sleep supplements that I have personally tried myself during prep last year and that which I have continued to take going forward to assist better sleep and stress recovery.
- Ashwagandha/ KSM66
I’ve probably been taking this supplement for the past year and have definitely noticed the benefits with regards to sleep and better yet sleep ‘quality’ on the whole. Stress management is essential when it comes to a successful prep, but these definitely have a place in effective stress reduction day to day also, not just for bodybuilding and high impact exercise.
It doesn’t make me groggy the next day which is essential when getting up at 5am and earlier. Nor does it leave an aftertaste, which some herbal capsules do when digesting. This is a lighter note which one can apply to those likely to forget or misdose different products when taking a few at once, it wouldn’t be dangerous if you happened to forget a dose and have more than one. Now I’m not saying that’s a green light to have as many as you can swallow but You’ll be surprised how much harder it would be to wake willingly to the sound of your alarm had you done this with sleeping tablets or anything stronger. Overall I’ll continue to take this product throughout the year, I have around 800mg half an hour before bed and may have slightly more on a higher output day or one with more stimulants or caffeine in the mix.
While ZMA shares similar effects to Ashwagandha, promoting deep sleep and lucid dreaming, ZMA assists the regulation of various vitamins and minerals that are responsible for essential functions of the body, now I’m not a doctor so I couldn’t tell you the specifics supporting these claims but all I know is that this supplement helps me feel well rested and resolved in any particular area of thought that I have been repressing subconsciously, which is essentially what sleep is for right? Besides the obvious resting part. This isn’t something I’d haphazardly have too much of as some of the most vivid dreams I can recall have been whilst taking ZMA. Great product use with caution if you tend to have nightmares already.
5-Hydroxy tryptophan is an amino acid which helps produce serotonin, the chemical which ascertains the extent or lack thereof, further concerning your overall mood and wellbeing. A prolonged deficiency of these chemicals can be negatively contributing to cases of irritability, depression, anxiety and essentially anything antonymous to happiness.
People tend to take this supplement before and after taking anything which will further affect serotonin production, heavy stim pre’s, party drugs and alcohol. Though prolonged use of 5-HTP would essentially counteract and negate the bodies natural production of serotonin, resulting in a suppresive, overcompensating effect of these feel good hormones. Too much of a good thing isn’t good for anyone, but if you want a pick me up to help you sleep after a stressful day or want to reduce the come down symptoms of a few too many nights out this may be just the thing. Do your own research before taking anything frequently.
Matthew Walker, the author of ‘Why We Sleep’ commented on people’s reliance to sleeping tablets and such to counteract the biproduct of disjointed work schedules, too much caffeine and not enough rest. Melatonin is our sleep hormone, it determines night from day which in turn tells our body when it’s time to sleep. Anything naturally occurring in the body is easy to justify taking considerable amounts of, its already there anyway I just need more of it? Well just like 5-ATP there’s only so much application of supplementing these chemicals in the short term before it becomes detrimental to long term production. On top of this, it’s hard to quantify the exact amount of melatonin contained within certain supplements and products that probably won’t be readily available at your local Holland and Barrett. Nor will they be easy to get hold of, but if you do shift work, are catching more flights than feeling’s and would benefit without being jetlag for longer than necessary, do your research and find a product with the dosage clearly stated.
- Valerian root
Considered ‘nature’s valium’ valerian also has the potential to reduce to stress and anxiety alongside being a great night cap supplement. It inhibits the breakdown of Gamma aminobutyric acid or GABA, an amino acid which blocks certain brain signals and decreases activity in the nervous system, promoting autonomic rest and recovery. I personally haven’t tried GABA and this is something which I have been recommended on numerous occasions, but I’m assuming this works in the same way valerian root does, alongside serotonin production and sleep enhancing benefits.
I personally wake up groggily when I’ve taken previously, maybe look at this kind of alternative when you don’t have to get up early and need to be firing on all cyllinders from the off.
Products that contain these ingredients…
Sleep-er by Trec Nutrition
Cool as a Cucumber by Boxed off
Do your research and get your rest 👌
You’re gonna need it 💪