But what are the consequences of a poor night’s sleep? Interrupted, disturbed, or incomplete sleep can prevent the body from repairing and rejuvenating as it should. This can lead to a variety of physiological and psychological problems.
The Effects of Insufficient Sleep
The physiological effects of sleep deprivation have been widely investigated and are well established. An impairment in cognition is the most apparent issue, with several studies showing poor sleep diminishes concentration, focus and brain function.2 A strong relationship between sleep and glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity has also been observed.3,4 Poor sleep could affect heart and cardiovascular health as well. A systemic review found that sleeping an average of 7-8 hours per night was associated with better heart health than sleeping longer or shorter.5
The psychological effects of sleep loss are also well-documented. A 2016 meta-analysis found sleep impairments to be significantly associated with an increased risk of poor mental health.6
Approaches to Improve Sleep
Many lifestyle behaviors have shown efficacy in improving sleep quality. Avoiding alcohol, blocking blue light exposure before bedtime, controlling caffeine intake during the day, optimizing the bedroom environment, and avoiding intense workouts or big meals close to bedtime are all effective strategies.
Several ingredients are available to complement those lifestyle changes. Melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland, is a popular sleep supplement that helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle.* Melatonin supplementation has been well studied for its role in sleep support* and suggests its positive effect on sleep quality.*7,8 The recommended dose for melatonin is typically between 1 and 5 mg, taken 30-60 minutes before bedtime. While melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the human’s brain, the melatonin in supplements is the synthetic form of this hormone.
When it comes to ingredients, there are a few options that can help one wind down and relax. Relaxation, meditation and disengaging from stimulating activities are examples of a healthy bedtime routine.9 Magnesium is a mineral that participates in over 300 metabolic reactions within the body and is essential for healthy muscle and nerve function.* It can help promote muscle relaxation and a calm mood.*10 It is typically taken in daily doses between 200 and 350 mg, with 350 mg being its upper limit.
Stress may be a factor that makes it difficult for the brain to turn-off and to fall asleep for some.* Other ingredients that are important when we think of sleep and stress support include L-theanine and ashwagandha.* The amino acid Ltheanine has been found to promote relaxation, improve sleep, and reduce cortisol and stress.*11,12 The standard dose of L-theanine to support sleep is 200-400 mg, taken one hour before bed.* The adaptogenic herb ashwagandha helps manage stress by reducing cortisol levels and with ongoing use, promotes relaxation to support restful sleep.*13,14
Poor sleep can have serious consequences on our general health and well-being. It is essential to prioritize sleep and to address any sleep-related issues promptly. Just a few days of good sleep can significantly improve quality of life. Practicing good sleep hygiene and leveraging the action of supplements, when necessary, can go a long way. By taking steps to improve our sleep, we can ensure that our bodies are able to repair themselves, and that we are able to perform at our best during the day. Consult your healthcare practitioner if sleep issues persist and identify a treatment plan that works best.
- CDC- MMWR, October 30, 2009;58(42).
- Ellenbogen JM. Neurology. 2005;64(7).
- Van Leeuwen WM et al, Int J Endocrinol. 2010.
- Buxton OM et al, Diabetes. 2010;59(9):2126-2133.
- Cappuccio FP, et al, Eur Heart J. 2011;32(12):1484-1492.
- Li L et al, BMC Psychiatry. 2016 Nov 5;16(1):375.
- Xie Z, et al. Neurol Res. 2017;39(6):559-565.
- Fatemeh G, et al. J Neurol. 2022;269(1):205-216.
- Markwald RR et al, ACSMs Health Fit J. 2018 Mar-Apr;22(2):23-29.
- Al Alawi AM et al, Int J Endocrinol. 2018 Apr 16;2018.
- Lu K et al, Hum Psychopharmacol. 2004;19(7):457-465.
- Lyon MR et al, Altern Med Rev. 2011;16(4):348-354.
- Salve J et al, Cureus. 2019;11(12).
- Auddy et al, Journal of American Nutraceutical Association. 2008;11. 50-56