If you're on the hunt for science-backed ways to improve your sleep, you've likely come across the name Dr. Andrew Huberman. A renowned neuroscientist and tenured professor at Stanford University's School of Medicine, Dr. Huberman has made significant contributions to our understanding of brain function and neural plasticity. In a recent conversation with Tim Ferriss, he shared his personal sleep cocktail - a combination of supplements designed to optimize sleep quality.
Dr. Huberman's sleep stack consists of four key supplements:
Magnesium Threonate: 300-400mg - daily, 30-60 minutes before bed
Magnesium Threonate stands apart from common magnesium supplements due to its unique property of superior absorption into the brain. It is a patented form of magnesium, chemically known as L-Threonic acid Magnesium salt, which effectively crosses the blood-brain barrier. This potent brain bioavailability of magnesium threonate is linked to improved cognitive functions, including memory and learning capabilities.
As a sleep aid, magnesium threonate plays a critical role due to its calming effect on the nervous system. By promoting GABA neurotransmitters in the brain, which are responsible for quieting down nerve activity, it helps in the relaxation of the body and mind. Consequently, this form of magnesium is effective in preparing the body for a restful sleep, thus helping with sleep disorders like insomnia.
L-Theanine: 100-400mg - daily, 30-60 minutes before bed
L-Theanine is an amino acid predominantly found in tea leaves, specifically in green tea. Unlike some other sleep aids, L-Theanine promotes relaxation without causing drowsiness or sedation. It operates by increasing the levels of calming brain chemicals like serotonin and GABA, which can modulate sleep. Simultaneously, it reduces levels of chemicals associated with stress and anxiety.
Additionally, L-Theanine enhances alpha brain waves, associated with a state of wakeful relaxation. This combination of increased relaxation and decreased stress levels makes L-Theanine a popular choice for improving sleep quality and duration.
Apigenin: 50mg - daily, 30-60 minutes before bed
Apigenin is a natural bioactive compound, a type of flavonoid found in several plants, including chamomile, parsley, and celery. It's well known for its calming effects and is commonly used in sleep aids and anxiety treatments.
Its sleep-inducing effects are believed to be due to its potential role in activating GABA receptors in the brain. These are the same receptors targeted by many anti-anxiety medications and sleep aids. By mimicking the action of GABA, Apigenin naturally aids in reducing anxiety and promoting sleep.
Myo-Inositol: 900mg - every 3 nights or when awoken mid-sleep
Myo-Inositol is a naturally occurring compound, technically a type of sugar alcohol, that resembles the structure of vitamins. Myo-Inositol serves a variety of health purposes, from managing PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) to aiding mental health conditions.
In the context of sleep, Myo-Inositol is often used due to its potential to alleviate insomnia and improve the overall quality of sleep. It aids in re-establishing healthy hormone signals that influence sleep patterns, thus creating a balanced and regular sleep cycle. Anecdotal evidence suggests that individuals like Dr. Huberman use a specific dose of 900 milligrams of Myo-Inositol to help fall back asleep when woken up in the middle of the night. It's important, however, to consult a healthcare professional before starting or adjusting any supplement regimen.
When faced with the decision to choose only two of these supplements, Dr. Huberman prioritized Magnesium Threonate and Apigenin. Both were highlighted due to their pronounced and potentially superior effects in enhancing sleep quality for a broad range of individuals. It's worth noting, however, that L-Theanine might not be a one-size-fits-all solution. Dr. Huberman cautions that those who tend to have particularly vivid dreams or nightmares might want to steer clear, as L-Theanine can intensify dream lucidity.
Now you've possibly gathered the ingredients necessary for the sleep cocktail, you'll be wanting to know how much to consume and when to:
There are the 3 supplements, Magnesium Threonate, L-Theanine and Apigenin, which are best to take 30-60 minutes before getting into bed each night. As previously mentioned, Dr. Huberman recommends to take the 900mg dose of Myo-Inositol when you are awoken during your sleep, as it will help reduce the amount of time taken to get back to sleep.
Reminder: Dr. Huberman has given recommendations on ideal quantities of supplements to take to help better your sleep, however we once again recommend to take this information as valuable starting point. It's good practice to consult with a healthcare professional before taking a new supplement plan.
While these supplements can aid in sleep, Dr. Huberman emphasizes the importance of comprehensive sleep hygiene. This includes regular exercise, a healthy diet, and good sleep habits.
He also shares some insightful tips for better sleep hygiene:
If you'd like to watch Andrew run through this in short, check out this great clip on the Tim Ferris Podcast
Remember, always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen. While Dr. Huberman's sleep stack can provide a valuable starting point, it's essential to tailor your approach to your unique needs and circumstances. Happy sleeping!