If you want to feel refreshed and positively charged for the day when you awake in the morning then it’s important you get enough quality sleep.
We spend about a third of our lives sleeping. For good reason, there are many physical and psychological health benefits to getting plenty of shuteye.
One of the key health benefits of sleep, especially for men, is testosterone production. While lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise can influence testosterone levels, sleep is considered to be one of the most important. For men, it is during sleep when levels of testosterone reach their highest concentrations.
So if you want to supercharge your testosterone levels then it is crucial you get enough deep, restful sleep. While regular practice of sleep hygiene will help you get a good night’s slumber, there are some readily available over-the-counter supplements you can use to improve your sleep duration and quality.
Top four supplements to improve sleep quality
Magnesium is an essential mineral for good health and wellbeing. More than 300 biochemical reactions in the body use magnesium. Magnesium is the fourth most abundant element in the human body and the second most abundant positively charged ion within human cells after potassium.
Magnesium is essential for healthy bones, heart tissue and brain cells. A healthy intake of magnesium produces energy, reduces stress, eases pain and relaxes muscles. It also helps to promote restful sleep, reduce insomnia and, importantly for men, increase testosterone levels.
Scientific studies have shown the role that magnesium plays in improving sleep quality. In fact magnesium is so effective that it’s sometimes referred to as the miracle sleep mineral.
A study from 2012 published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences showed dietary magnesium supplementation produced significant increases in sleep time and efficiency among elderly people, with the supplement group showing a significant decrease in the insomnia severity index compared with the placebo group. The results also showed that magnesium supplementation raised levels of renin and melatonin which are two important hormones in the regulation of sleep and wakefulness.
If you want to improve your sleep, an intake of 400 mgs of magnesium per day is typically recommended for adult men. Food sources that are rich in magnesium include nuts, beans, avocado, bananas and green leafy vegetables.
We’ve probably heard more about melatonin’s role in promoting sleep than just about anything else. Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland and one of the body’s most powerful anti-oxidants.
Scientific studies have shown melatonin to be an effective natural sleep aid and treatment for sleep disorders.
A study in 2007 of people aged 55 years and older with insomnia showed prolonged-released melatonin of 2 mg per day for three weeks significantly improved their quality of sleep and increased morning alertness.
A meta-analysis in 2013 of 19 studies involving 1683 subjects found that melatonin showed significant efficacy in decreasing sleep onset latency, increased sleep duration and improved overall sleep quality. The researchers found that trials which involved a longer duration using higher doses of melatonin demonstrated greater effects on decreasing sleep latency and increased total sleep time.
If you want to improve your sleep using melatonin supplements, the recommended dose is between 0.5 mg to 2 mg per day. Some foods rich in melatonin are nuts, bananas, cherries, oats, pineapples and tomatoes.
Note: Over supplementing with Melatonin can cause drowsiness. It is recommended you start from a small dosage first and then work your way up.
Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) is a popular and powerful Ayurvedic herb, originating from one of the world’s oldest medical systems where its use in traditional Indian medicine and healing has spanned the past 3000 years.
Sometimes referred to as Indian Ginseng, Ashwagandha has powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties. The herb has a wide-range of health benefits that have been shown to improve brain function and memory, decrease blood sugars, blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety.
Ashwagandha can also increase testosterone and fertility in men and reduce cortisol – the stress hormone that exacerbates insomnia in some people.
Research supports Ashwagandha supplementation improves and promotes sleep. A 2012 study showed that Ashwagandha improved the quality of sleep in six of 18 healthy people who followed a dose regime between 750 mg to 1250 mg per day for 30 days.
Research shows that as an effective adaptogen, Ashwagandha supplementation can help users more easily transition to drowsiness and thereby improve sleep. As such, Ashwagandha may be helpful for improving sleep quality in people who have sleep disorders such as insomnia.
Recommend dosages of Ashwagandha are typically 500 mg to 1000 mg, taken once or twice a day, preferably around 30 minutes before bedtime.
We’ve long heard about the benefits of calcium as a key nutrient to keep our bones and teeth strong. But calcium has a number of other important functions in the body. Some of these include cell signaling, muscle contraction, heart rhythm, blood clotting and nerve function.
There’s another important function that calcium plays in human health and that is its role in getting a restful night’ sleep. We don’t often hear about calcium as a natural relaxant and sleep aid. Calcium helps the brain use the amino acid tryptophan to create the sleep hormone melatonin.
A 2014 study showed calcium was associated with fewer sleep difficulties in an analysis of a large representative sample involving 4548 participants. The researchers found that calcium was linked with decreased difficulty falling asleep and non-restorative sleep.
The usual recommendation for calcium intake for adult men is 1000 mg per day. But to get the most out of the supplement it is important that users get enough vitamins C and D to improve calcium absorption. Good food sources of calcium are plain yoghurt, calcium-fortified cereal, low-fat cheese, milk, kale, sardines and dark green leafy vegetables.
It looks like far too many of us are experiencing sleep deprivation and disorders, according to recent research by the Sleep Health Foundation.
A 2016 survey of 1,011 people over 18 years of age found inadequate sleep duration and poor sleep quality is affecting between 33 to 45 percent of Australian adults. And it’s having some concerning impacts on our work, wellbeing, safety and social activities.
Indeed getting enough quality sleep is fundamental to our health in all aspects of life and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
If you are experiencing sleep issues or disorders then you might like to try one of more of the four supplements described above as a natural sleep aid.