The Best Sleep Supplements and Practices for Quality Rest
By: Rebecca Paredes
December 15, 2020
- A healthy diet and wellness routine can’t compete with a lack of sleep. But if you’re always stressed or low in certain nutrients, you might be missing out on quality zzzs.
- The best sleep supplements aren’t just pills—they’re behaviors, foods and natural supplements for sleep that support less stress and more relaxation.
- Find out how to sleep better with natural sleep supplements and tips for stress management.
If you want more energy, better focus and a foundation to feel your best all day long, go to sleep! Quality shut-eye literally affects everything from your mood to your energy levels. The problem is, a ton of factors can impact your sleep quality, from diet to stress. The best sleep supplements help you get the rest your body needs, without feeling groggy the next day. Here’s what you should know about natural sleep supplements and behaviors to help you relax and drift off to dreamland.
Can melatonin support sound sleep?
We know: When you’re lying in bed, staring up at your ceiling and counting sheep, it might be hard to believe that your body actually wants you to sleep. When it gets dark, your body naturally increases levels of a hormone called melatonin. This all-important sleep hormone interacts with your body’s circadian rhythm—an internal clock that signals when it’s time to sleep, wake up and eat.
But, falling asleep isn’t always that easy (which is how you end up scrolling your phone in bed). Here are a few factors that explain why your body might not produce enough melatonin:
- Stress: When you initially wake up, your body produces a stress hormone called cortisol to signal that it’s time to get moving. But if you’re chronically stressed out, cortisol takes center stage. You’ll have trouble sleeping because melatonin never has a chance to help you fully unwind.
- Unnatural light: Do you love watching TV before bed, but have a hard time actually feeling sleepy? Blame the bright lights. Unnatural light, particularly blue light from screens, can actually keep you awake by interfering with your circadian rhythm and preventing melatonin from doing its job.
- Time changes: Jet lag, Daylight Savings Time and even changes to your schedule can all interfere with your body’s melatonin levels—which can translate to sleep issues. No thanks.
Here’s the good news: When your body isn’t taking the hint that it’s time to rest, a melatonin supplement can help you finally hit the hay.
How a melatonin supplement can help you sleep
Bulletproof Sleep Mode is a non-habit-forming, natural supplement for sleep made with ingredients to support better rest and less stress—namely, plant-based melatonin and L-ornithine.
Sleep Mode’s active ingredient is a physiological amount of plant-based, bioidentical melatonin—which means it’s the amount your body normally makes. Why is that a good thing? Over-the-counter sleeping pills commonly contain higher levels of melatonin. Sleep Mode is different. It contains just a minimal amount of melatonin to help you relax into a deep sleep and feel recharged the next morning.
What about L-ornithine? According to Bulletproof Scientific Affairs Manager Emily Gonzalez, ND, the amino acid L-ornithine has been found to help people relax and feel less stressed. “It reduces cortisol, the stress hormone that can disturb melatonin’s natural circadian rhythm, and helps support a healthy night’s sleep,” Gonzalez says.
Whether you’re feeling restless, wide awake before bedtime, stressed or all of the above, just take two capsules of Sleep Mode about 30 minutes before bed, as needed. That’ll allow enough time for the relaxing effects of melatonin to kick in. And, like all Bulletproof dietary supplements, Sleep Mode is soy-free, gluten-free and made without any artificial fillers.
How to reset your sleep schedule
Your circadian rhythm interacts with melatonin, but it’s also pretty finicky. Staying up late, eating a big meal too close to bedtime and feeling stressed can all interfere with your sleep-wake cycle and translate to poor sleep. This is especially true if you’re working against your natural sleep chronotype—another way of saying, if you’re forcing yourself to be a morning person when you’re really a night owl, your circadian rhythm will take a hit.
The thing is, supporting your circadian rhythm translates to more restful sleep—so you want to follow a regular sleep routine. But, if your nighttime schedule is less ‘routine’ and more ‘watch TV until I drift off on the couch after midnight,’ try these tips to reset your sleep schedule and get a good night’s sleep:
- Start slow: Want to go to sleep earlier? Start by getting in bed sooner by a few minutes every day so your body has time to adjust.
- Craft a bedtime routine: Follow a set pattern of behaviors to signal to your body that it’s time for bed. Around the same time every night, shut off your screens, drink a cup of chamomile or passionflower tea, read a book—find a pre-sleep pattern that works for you and that you can consistently follow.
- No screens in the bedroom: Keep your TV, phone and computer out of the bedroom so you’re not tempted to reply to emails (and get hit with blue light) while you’re trying to wind down.
- Set cut-off times for eating and exercising: A healthy diet and regular exercise do support healthy sleep, but working out and eating a big meal can also keep you awake if they happen too close to bedtime. Set a deadline for workouts and exercise about two hours before you want to go to sleep.
- Take your supplements: Managing your stress throughout the day can help you feel more prepared to wind down, and some of the best supplements for sleep are also helpful for stress management. For example, we formulated Bulletproof Zen Mode to reduce stress with a blend of adaptogenic herbs and nutrients like ashwagandha, magnesium, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and L-theanine.
How stress and exercise affect your sleep quality
We mentioned cortisol as a key part of signaling when it’s time to wake up. In a perfect world, your body is able to bring your stress hormone levels back to baseline so you stay balanced, not wired.
However, stress becomes a problem when it’s chronic and unending, keeping you in fight-or-flight mode. You might know this as the feeling you get when you’re amped or startled—but if you’re always stressed, your system never has a chance to wind down.
Unfortunately, stress affects your entire body: muscles stay tense, your heart rate remains elevated, inflammation increases, and even your immune system is impacted. All this to say, stress affects sleep in a big way, because it can prevent your body from fully winding down.
This is one of the reasons stress management is such a key part of your overall wellness toolkit. In addition to helping you feel more centered and focused, managing your stress levels can help you sleep better—which positively impacts everything else in your day, too.
How exercising reduces stress
Okay, exercising isn’t as easy as taking a pill, but it gives you a big return on your investment—whether you’re lifting weights or jogging on the treadmill. This happens because exercise:
- Decreases cortisol levels: Research associates exercise with reduced stress hormone levels.
- Reduces muscle tension: Your body was made to move. Exercise helps stretch your muscles and stimulate blood flow, which can help reduce tension-related aches and pains.
- Provides breath support: You breathe more deeply and heavily during exercise, which strengthens your heart and lungs. Deep breathing is associated with lower cortisol levels, which can help you feel more prepared to unwind by the time you’re ready for bed.
- Supports brain health: Studies show that exercise increases the size of your hippocampus, the part of your brain responsible for learning and memory.
These are just a few of the reasons to explain why regular aerobic exercise (the kind that increases your breathing and heart rate) supports your overall health. Regular exercise isn’t just a natural sleep supplement—it’s also one of the most important parts of your routine because its side effects support overall wellness in such a big way.
Keep in mind, there isn’t one “right” way to exercise. Find what works for your body and your schedule. You might lift weights, run, cycle or swing a kettlebell, but even something as simple as taking three 10-minute walks throughout the day adds up to 30 minutes of movement—and that can help your body feel more balanced and less stressed over time.
How foods can improve sleep
In a list of best sleep supplements, you might not think about food—but certain foods can help you sleep better and wake up feeling more energized. And nope, we’re not just talking about tryptophan-induced turkey naps.
If you want better and more restorative zzzs, make sure you’re getting enough of these foods and supplements in your diet:
Quality fats for sustained energy
Do you wake up in the middle of the night? Your body might need more energy before bed. Quality fats like grass-fed ghee and butter, coconut oil and MCT oil give your brain and body fuel throughout the night (which is one of the reasons Sleep Mode contains Bulletproof Brain Octane C8 MCT Oil).
Protein for muscle repair
While you sleep, your body gets to work repairing muscle tissue. You want to make sure you’re supplying amino acid building blocks by eating enough protein throughout the day. And if it’s hard to eat enough protein-rich foods, protein supplements can help fill in the gaps.
You might have heard of bodybuilders having a whey protein shake before bed—this won’t bulk up your muscles on its own, but if you tolerate dairy, this is an easily digestible way to make sure you’re getting enough protein. Whey is also unique because it contains bioactive milk peptides, which are natural sleep aids, and it helps your body make glutathione, your body’s master antioxidant. (No dairy? No problem. Get glutathione in Bulletproof Glutathione Force.)
One easy tip if you haven’t hit your protein goals: Take 1-2 tablespoons of Bulletproof Collagen Protein before bed. It’s hydrolyzed, which makes it easy to digest, and it mixes easily in hot or cold liquids. Try it in this Sleepytime Tonic recipe, which contains soothing ingredients that double as natural supplements for sleep.
Omega-3 fatty acids for overall wellness
We do know that omega-3 fatty acids support your brain, heart and joint health. Get a clinically-backed omega-3 blend in Bulletproof Omega Krill Complex, which also contains antioxidants that help fight free radicals that can contribute to inflammation.
Heads up: If you’re having trouble sleeping, work with your healthcare provider. These tips aren’t a replacement for medical advice. Instead, use these tips to supplement your sleep routine and support overall wellness. When you sleep better, you feel better. That’s what being healthy is all about.
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