Stock up your sleep station with supplements for sleep from Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and the world of mushrooms.
Sleep is a delicate dance, and supplements for sleep can be just the right dance partner, if used carefully.
Researchers say there is a sweet spot, and that everyone has, as Goldilocks would say, just the right amount of sleep that they need. Trouble happens when the stress of actual life, outside of the fairy tales, gets in the way of quality sleep. It could be a sick partner or child, or an especially stressful time brought on by work, relationships, or a pandemic.
Sometimes sleep issues show up all of sudden and sometimes there is a gradual fade, a lessening of sleep quality that leaves the days, and often the nights, feeling especially long and uncomfortably tedious and difficult.
When my father died suddenly, I went through a few very difficult years. My prolonged grief manifested as a chronic nighttime cough that resulted in me waking up every night around 1 am and not being able to go back to sleep until about 4 am. This pattern offered me a paltry four to five hours of tragically interrupted sleep.
My doctor, who has one foot firmly planted in Western medicine and one in a more functional approach, suggested I try a cough syrup with codeine. “You need sleep, period,” he insisted. It was meant to suppress my cough and break the insidious cycle of cough, wake, toss, and turn. And it did that with moderate success. The problem was, I would wake up the next day feeling drugged, my mind still swimming with the effects of the codeine, clear thinking beyond my reach. This was not a long-term solution for me and so I turned to supplements for sleep that would not leave me foggy-headed in the morning.
I decided to turn to alternative treatments. I explored Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and the world of mushrooms. By this point, I had a fair amount of stress accumulated from the lack of sleep so I knew that in addition to waking-in-the-middle-of-the-night pattern I was in, I also needed to address my stress level, which had me operating at a fairly high-wire level.
In addition to cleaning up my sleep hygiene (I swore that if one more person told me to take a hot bath before bed I was going to scream) I looked for companies that offered formulas that were rooted in centuries of practice and that were impeccable with their testing and product quality.
I now have what I affectionately refer to as my sleep station. It’s where I keep my tinctures, tablets, and packets of powder. It’s where I turn to when the days start to feel like too much, or my sleep gets just the tiniest bit interrupted. Here are some of what I affectionately refer to as the stars of my sleep station. I hope these supplements for sleep work for you.
The Queen of Mushrooms
Once reserved for royalty, reishi mushrooms offer a variety of benefits, not the least of which is as an adaptogen, aiding the body in its ability to react to stress. It may also offer mild sedative properties. Both of these make it the perfect addition to any bedtime routine. I prefer my cup of reishi elixir about an hour before bed, mixed with hot water, a couple of droppers of magnesium liquid, and a splash of unsweetened macadamia nut mylk.
When I hit a major stumbling block with my sleep, I turned to acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine formulas. My acupuncturist is a gifted healer and herbalist, and while her tinctures are not widely available, the Four Gentlemen Decoction is a formula that has been used for thousands of years in TCM to support better sleep. It can be found at LunaWell.
When feeling overly wired, Ayurvedic herbs and blends may support deep sleep with a combination of sleep promoter all-stars: skullcap, valerian, chamomile and ashwaganda. One of the first formulations that brought me real relief from my sleepless nights, I Sleep Soundly delivered on its name. I keep a bottle by my bedside table for those days when everything has been a bit over the top and I know I need some help getting calm and staying asleep.
Nod Off With Nootropics
The latest addition to my queue of supplements for sleep is ZZZZs. The name alone could be considered enough, but it’s full of some promising ingredients that I’ve heard about individually: 5-HTP, L-Theanine, and melatonin. I haven’t had the chance to try it, which is actually a good thing, but I will keep it lined up with the others, hoping that if it’s needed, it will live up to its name.
Keep reading about sleep: “How to Sleep Better in 15 Minutes.”