Are you having trouble sleeping ? It's not always clear what triggers insomnia, but it's often associated with the following factors:
On the other hand, energy drinks, weight loss supplements, and cocoa products, as well as red yeast rice, garlic, policosanol, DHEA, chromium and high doses or levels of vitamin D, potassium and coenzyme Q10 may interfere with sleep.
In some cases, adjusting dosing or timing of dose may help.
What you eat may also affect your sleep.
Supplements that may disrupt your sleep
Products containing caffeine such as energy drinks, weight loss supplements, cocoa and or other stimulants can worsen the quality of your sleep.
A word of caution, weight loss supplements and caffeine products are also among the supplements most often associated with injurious effects in general.
High doses of vitamin D, as well as high blood levels of vitamin D have been associated with a deterioration in sleep quality. When taken in high doses, vitamin D may interfere with the body's production of melatonin.
High doses of the supplement coenzyme Q10 may cause insomnia, especially when taken in the evening. If CoQ10 seems to cause insomnia, take it well before dinner time and consider reducing the dose.
On the other hand if you are taking a statin which is a medication used to treat high cholesterol, then coenzyme Q10 may actually improve your sleep as it reduces the muscle pain induced by the medication.
Supplements such as red yeast rice, garlic, policosanol (a common ingredient in cholesterol-lowering supplements), DHEA and chromium have also been reported to cause insomnia in some people.
Supplements that may improve your sleep
Melatonin is one of the most popular supplements for sleep. It can help you fall asleep faster, although it will not necessarily help you sleep longer.
Research has shown that it may also improve the quality of sleep in people with tinnitus, and improve sleep quality and duration in people with autism. Melatonin may also be beneficial for people taking beta blocker medications.
Beta-blockers can lower the body's nighttime production of melatonin and interfere with sleep, and a small study suggests that melatonin supplementation may improve sleep in people taking these medications. However, be aware that melatonin may increase blood pressure in people taking another type of blood pressure lowering medication.
Also, be aware that taking melatonin may increase leg movements in restless legs syndrome and, although not directly proven, there is also some concern that melatonin might worsen breathing among people with nighttime asthma.
Tart cherries contain a small amount of melatonin, and there is some evidence that tart cherry juices, concentrates and extracts may contain enough melatonin to improve sleep for some people.
One study, for example, found that drinking two 8 oz./ 237ml glasses of tart cherry juice daily moderately improved some measures of sleep, such as reducing waking after falling asleep in older adults.
L-tryptophan and 5-HTP are amino acids that the body uses to produce melatonin (as well as serotonin). L-tryptophan supplements can increase sleepiness and decrease the time needed to fall asleep in people with mild insomnia but have not been shown to increase sleep time. They do not appear to be helpful for people with severe insomnia.
L-theanine, an amino acid found in black and green tea, can reduce stress and improve sleep quality, but does not cause drowsiness. Interestingly, L-theanine may also help to increase alertness during the day.
CBD (cannabidiol) can help improve sleep in people with insomnia and other conditions that can cause difficulty sleeping, such as anxiety and Parkinson's disease.
Magnesium may reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep in older people with insomnia, but it doesn't seem to improve total sleep time. One small study found magnesium reduced leg movement associated with waking in people with restless leg syndrome, although this study was not blinded or placebo controlled.
Ashwagandha may improve sleep quality and decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, as well as reduce anxiety, according to one clinical trial.
Saffron extract has been shown to provide some very modest and limited sleep benefits in small, clinical trials among middle-aged people.
It helped reduce self-reportedly severity of insomnia symptoms (i.e. difficulty falling and staying asleep, early morning awakenings) and improved sleep quality as indicated by reported tiredness, mood and energy compared to placebo.
These improvements occurred within the first seven days of supplementation. In addition the saffron supplement was also found to decrease symptoms of depression.
Valerian is commonly used as a sleep aid. One study reported an improvement in sleep for postmenopausal women who suffered from insomnia; however, a review of 37 studies of valerian concluded it was probably not effective for treating insomnia. Like Ashwagandha, however, it may have a calming effect and be helpful for stress and anxiety, which can contribute to insomnia.
Prevagen, a branded supplement that contains jellyfish protein, and PQQ, an antioxidant compound, have each been tested in a single study and found to improve sleep.
Chamomile tea is a popular, traditional home remedy for insomnia. However, a review of clinical trials with chamomile concluded that while it may modestly reduce generalized anxiety and improve sleep quality.
Chamomile is one of the most concentrated plant sources of apigenin, a flavonoid compound that laboratory and animal studies suggest may have hypnotic and benzodiazepine-like (anti-anxiety) effects (Shinomiya, Biol Pharm Bull 2005; Viola, Planta Med 1995).
If you are allergic to the Compositae/Asteraceae family, such as daisy, ragweed, and chrysanthemum, then you may also be allergic to chamomile. (Srivastava, Mol Med Report 2010; McKay, Phytother Res 2006).
Chamomile may also have anti-platelet (blood-thinning) effects, and may increase the effects of blood-thinning medications such as warfarin, as was reported in an older woman who consumed 4 to 5 cups of chamomile tea per day in addition to using chamomile lotion (Pierre, Platelets 2005; Segal, CMAJ 2006).
Dietary factors that may affect sleep
Sources of carbohydrates in the diet may affect sleep. A study that followed over 50,000 postmenopausal women in the U.S. found that those whose diets were highest on the dietary glycemic index (i.e., diets that most increase blood sugar levels) were 11% more likely to have insomnia at the start of the study and 16% more likely to develop insomnia over the next three years than those whose diets were lowest on the dietary glycemic index.
Higher risk of developing insomnia was specifically associated with higher intakes of added sugars, starch, and refined grains, while higher intakes of fruit (but not fruit juice) and vegetables, dietary fiber, and whole grains were associated with a lower risk (Gangwisch, Am J Clin Nutr 2019).
Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !