If you are struggling with insomnia, or if you find your sleep cycle unsatisfying in any way, nootropics can help you to come out victorious. Nootropics are generally associated with their commonly known benefits, such as their ability to boost your cognitive capacity, promote easier learning, and enhance attention and motivation.
But there also those that can help you with your sleep, both in terms of falling asleep more quickly and improving your quality of sleep. This is why we have listed nootropics for sleep and divided them in two categories. But first, let’s remind ourselves how sleep works and why it is so important.
The Science Behind Sleep
Getting enough healthy sleep every night is very important. Studies have proved that loss of sleep has a negative effect on both our behavioral and cognitive performance. Empirical validations of these claims are ongoing, and the results are the same as the ones discovered by pioneers in this field.
So, how do our bodies get ready to go to bed? One of the most important mechanism that wind the clock to tells us when it is the time to go to bed is the GABA pathway. In fact, when there is less light, our hypothalamus starts to work together with brain stems to produce GABA. GABA, then reduces our excitement and arousal levels, thus preparing us to go to bed.
How do we maintain our sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm? The neurobiology and neurochemistry behind the circadian rhythm is quite complex. At this point, it is good to know that the most important chemical for a healthy circadian rhythm is melatonin, a hormone synthesized by the pineal gland.
The next substance that plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm is adenosine. Adenosine is a natural byproduct of our cells that produce our fuel molecule – adenosine triphosphate. Increased levels of adenosine in our bloodstreams suggest to our body that it is time for some rest. Of course, this is a rather simplified way of describing it.
Why is Healthy Sleep so Important
All of our bodily organs cannot work well if we don’t get enough quality sleep. Out of all of them, our brain is the one that is the most affected. Why? Let’s take memory formation for instance. For this process to be completed, memory consolidation has to be successfully completed. And, this phase takes place while we are asleep.
Then, we have to address the issue of neuroplasticity. Thanks to it, our brains are able to store new information. The factor that determines the level of our brain’s neuroplasticity is how good our nerve synapses are working. And in order for them to be able to perform as intended, we need to rest. Otherwise. we will experience significant problems with learning new information and retaining it over longer periods of time, even if we practice repetition.
Sleep also affects the quality of our lives. According to a study, people who slept more than 9 hours, as well as those who slept less than 6 hours per night, experience a decrease in their quality of life. The same study establishes a connection between poor sleeping habits and depression as well.
The next one is a really interesting find. According to one study, people who have problems sleeping are more likely to experience feelings of fear, or even develop issues with anxiety down the line. Researchers have established a link between the REM sleep phase and the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Norepinephrine regulates our flight-or-fight response, and the REM phase plays a vital role in moderating the levels of this neurotransmitter in our brains.
All of these findings say how important is a healthy sleep cycle. As you can see, a good and healthy deep night slumber is not only going to help us feel better, learn faster, and become more efficient at what we do, but it will also enable us to perform well in bed.
By including some of the following nootropics in your supplement regimen, you will improve your sleep and, by doing so, you will experience the aforementioned benefits.
Nootropics to Help you Fall Asleep Faster
Bacopa Monnieri is one of the most powerful nootropics on the market. While it may be something new for you to discover, you should know that it is an ancient herb with a long history use in medicine. It is known by a plethora of benefits it offers to those who decide to take it as a supplement. Benefits range from better cognitive performance to reduced levels of anxiety.
There are two studies that we would like to share with you. In this one, the results of Bacopa Monnieri supplementation were astonishing. Bacopa didn’t only improve attention, but it has also significantly reduced levels of anxiety and depression in study subjects. The other one examined the effects of Bacopa on learning only. It has been confirmed that Bacopa improves our memory and learning capacity.
Bacopa is an excellent choice for those who want a nootropic to help them with cognition, anxiety and sleep. This study confirms the positive effects of Bacopa during sleep. In fact, Bacopa promotes communication between neurons in our brains by improving the signaling mechanism. This enables the process of memory consolidation during the REM phase.
Ashwagandha is the root of a herb that has been in use for centuries now. The records show us that it was part of Ayurveda ancient medicine. The traditional belief is that it improves the virility and strength of a horse. Primarily, ashwagandha is an adaptogen. This means that it has a strong anti-anxiety effect. Beside this, it is known by its ability to relieve insomnia.
A study confirmed that ashwagandha is especially beneficial for people who are under a lot of chronic stress. The levels of the stress hormone – cortisol – were reduced by 28% over 60 days of ashwagandha supplementation. Since sleep deprivation leads to increased levels of cortisol, ashwagandha is a natural way to reverse this process and allow our bodies to fall asleep faster. This is especially convenient when we know that cortisol levels spike the evening that follows a sleepless night.
Kava is a very powerful nootropic. Traditionally, it has been used as an anxiolytic and a hypnotic. It is also a herb with the ability to improve cognition. You should also know that this nootropic is not completely safe. Experts advise to exercise caution when mixing Kava with other nootropics and pharmaceuticals.
If you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety, and this is the primary reason why you cannot fall asleep, Kava can be really helpful. In medical terms, this phenomena is called anxiety-induced insomnia. In one study, all subjects experienced improvements when they were under the effect of 120 mg of Kava extract. In another study, subjects experienced better sleep quality and reduced anxiety after 200 mg of Kava.
Nootropics for Better Sleep Quality
While the above nootropics can help you to fall asleep like a baby, the following ones will help you maintain a healthy sleep cycle.
L-Theanine is a nootropic that has been under the magnifying glass of the scientific community for a very long time. This amino acid is found in high concentrations in green tea. One of the many benefits it offers to those who decide to include it in their supplementation regime is improved sleep quality.
In fact, only 200 mg of L-Theanine daily will not only improve sleep quality, but also speed up recovery and improve the subjective feeling of becoming refreshed by sleep. These are results from a Japanese study. L-Theanine is also known by the relaxation effect it has on us. Only 20 minutes after ingestion, subjects of one study had increased alpha brain waves activity.
Simply put, DMAE is a choline molecule, just with one less methyl group. DMAE is a natural occuring nootropic. In fact, we already have it in our brains. DAME is known by its positive effects on mood, energy, attention and vigilance. Be careful though, as there are some reports that DMAE can induce lucid dreaming.
Aniracetam is a molecule from the racetams family. It can help you by reducing depression and anxiety. Brain hackers have been using this nootropic for quite a while now. Studies confirm that it helps in relieving stress and anxiety, thus enabling healthy and long dreams.
Huperzine A is a popular choice in the neurohacker community. It is a naturally occuring nootropic, derived from Chinese Club Moss. It plays a crucial role in the chemical process that take place in our bodies. In fact, it is a powerful acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine.
While Huperzine A brings benefits to those who want to enhance their short-memory, it can also ensure a healthy REM phase. As it belongs to the group of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, a study provides evidence that suggests that Huperzine A can help improve REM sleep. The drug used in this study is donepezil, which is also an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor.
Hopefully, we have helped by shedding some light on sleep mechanisms. As you can see, there are nootropics that can help you improve your sleeping habits. One last piece of advice, if you want to add a nootropic for sleep to your nootropic stack, make sure to pay attention to nootropics that provide that extra energy kick. These may keep you awake longer than you intended and negate the effects of nootropics for sleep.and get you faster asleep