Sleep; a condition of the mind and body that recurs each night, in which the nervous system is relatively inactive. Our eyes close, our postural muscles relax and consciousness is partially suspended. Although this may sound like a simple lack of functions, it isn’t as straightforward as you may have thought.
Traditionally, sleep has been divided into 4 categories; awake, light, deep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Each stage plays an essential role in maintaining your mental and physical health. Despite the significant importance of achieving all the stages of sleep, it can be an uphill battle for many of us. More specifically, getting enough deep and REM sleep each night can be exceptionally challenging.
That being said, I am going to give you a few tips on how to up your quality of sleep and let you in on my 3 go-to nootropics that help me sleep better at night. Hopefully, my tips and tricks will help you sleep better, too! Let’s start with the basics.
What happens during deep sleep?
During this stage of sleep, you dive deeper into your inner world and pay less attention to the outside world. Although you will likely appear to be out like a light, some parts of your body are hard at work.
During deep sleep, your breathing and heart rate go down while your ability to fight germs and capacity to form/store memories goes up! However, experts are still trying to figure out exactly what deep sleep is and how it benefits us in other areas.
What is REM sleep?
Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, or stage R, typically starts about 90 minutes after you’ve fallen asleep. Your brain activity, pulse, blood pressure, and breathing speed up simultaneously as your eyes begin to dart around very quickly.
This stage of sleep is also when you do most of your dreaming. REM sleep is vital for learning, storing information/memories, and other functions of the brain. As with all stages of sleep, we are only scratching the surface of how this affects our day-to-day lives.
Top 3 nootropics to increase sleep quality.
Getting 10 hours of poor-quality sleep will do more damage than getting 6 hours of high-quality sleep. When it comes to sleep, quality comes above quantity. Here are three nootropics that help me sleep better at night.
Magnesium helps increase physical relaxation. This nutrient reduces stress, helping you stay asleep longer. The mineral has been used to successfully treat cases of insomnia all over the globe. A lot of stress can be experienced in physical symptoms. When we can successfully decrease our physical symptoms of stress, our mental symptoms often ease back. This is a great nootropic to keep at your bedside and add to your nighttime routine.
Melatonin is likely the most popular supplement for getting in those extra z’s. Essentially, melatonin is a hormone that we already host. It is primarily released by the pineal gland during sleep and has long been associated with the control of our sleep-wake cycle. While magnesium helps the body to relax and sleep for longer, melatonin helps you to fall asleep faster.
If you take the two in combination, you will likely notice a difference in your sleep quality. This supplement is a great option for those who do not release enough melatonin at night. This is often a cause of poor sleep for the majority, making metatonin a simple fix for many individuals with slight sleeping issues.
Ashwagandha is a naturally occurring root with sleep-inducing potential. It is likely best known for treating stress, anxiety, and mood disorders, but did you know it is also an effective nootropic for sleep? Preliminary research has shown us that ashwagandha may help people fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer and experience better sleep quality overall.
This particular study has found that participants who took ashwagandha for 6 weeks improved their quality of sleep. The study found that it improved sleep quality by 72% on average! There is still a lot more we need to know about ashwagandha before we can understand the ins and outs of its effect on the sleeping brain.
Additional tips and information
I have personally tried all of these sleep nootropics myself and I believe they have helped me make a lot of progress during my journey to better sleep. However, I do also know that it is not as simple as taking a few supplements before heading to bed. I know that it is a lot more complex. As with many other things in life, a collective attitude will get you the furthest.
Trying many different methods and staying consistent is what worked for me. I used to have a lot of trouble with getting quality sleep in every night. I didn’t realise how poor my sleep was until I got a sleep tracker.
I knew my sleep quality wasn’t the best but I didn’t realise it was as bad as it was since I was getting more hours of sleep each night than the average person. Since then, I’ve put a lot of time and effort into creating an effective routine that works for me and I highly suggest you do the same!
We are all unique individuals with specific requirements. This is why it is so difficult to treat sleeping disorders… The source of the problem can take a long time to locate and can also require a specific cocktail or remedies to fix. Not to mention, every day is different which means that each night will be different as well.
I highly recommend doing some research into nighttime routines and seeing what is working for others. From there, you can try a variety of methods and play around with different routines until you find something that works for you.
I have a very specific nighttime routine that I try my best to follow every evening. Even though I have been following a similar routine for a long time, I still need to change it around sometimes.
Life is full of different phases and change is constant, therefore I have found forcing myself to stick to the exact same routine for years has been counter-productive. We are changing and evolving all the time, and so are our needs and requirements for sleep.
I know that treating poor sleep can feel hopeless at times. Just do your research and do your best! The more you overthink your sleep cycle, the worse it gets. Your relationship with sleep and how you view sleep has a heavy effect on the quality of your sleep. To experience enough of each sleep cycle, I can suggest trying the nootropics above and any others that you come across that are known to promote good sleep as well as an effective night-time routine.
We spend so much of our lives asleep and the quality of our waking life certainly depends on how restorative our sleep is each night. Focus on improving your sleep and your brain will thank you!