Valerian Root Extract – A relaxing perennial herb that has been shown to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep as well as improve the quality of sleep. Valerian has few side effects and works with your body’s chemistry. It is thought that valerian increases your brain’s level of GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid), an amino acid neurotransmitter that can have a calming and sedating effect. Stress can lower your GABA levels. Valerian is most effective when taken regularly for several weeks. Valerian can also help maintain serotonin levels in your brain. Valerian and hops are especially effective together for enhancing relaxation and sleep. When used together, smaller doses of each are appropriate and effective.
Melatonin – A hormone made in the pineal gland in your brain that regulates your sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm). When the sun goes down, melatonin is released in the blood and causes you to feel sleepy. As we age, our production of melatonin decreases steadily. Melatonin also acts as an antioxidant. Studies have shown that lower doses of melatonin are more effective than larger doses, which is why we use only 2 mg in our Sleep Formula.
Hops Flower Extract – Like valerian, hops has a long history of being used to improve sleep. Hops has natural calming and sedative effects and can increase sleep time. Hops also helps decrease core body temperature and helps regulate your body’s daily bio-rhythms of rest and activity. Both valerian and hops have been shown to alleviate restlessness and anxiety. Hops contains flavenoids which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. When valerian and hops are used together, smaller doses of each are appropriate and effective.
L-Theanine – An amino acid derivative found in green and black teas that is known for its calming and relaxing properties which can be seen on EEGs by smoothed out brain waves. L-theanine causes the release of GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) in the brain. GABA then activates the calming neurotransmitters that reduce anxiety and increase relaxation. The body has difficulty absorbing synthesized GABA and it cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, but L-theanine is easily absorbed and is able to cross the blood-brain barrier. L-theanine is the active form. D-theanine does not affect your brain at all. In a Japanese study, L-theanine helped improve the quality of sleep (by lengthening the REM phase) and subjects felt like they slept longer than they actually did.
Calcium Citrate – Calcium is directly related to your cycle of sleep; it helps your brain use the amino acid tryptophan to manufacture melatonin, a natural hormone that helps induce and maintain sleep. In one study researchers found that calcium levels are highest during the deepest levels of sleep, such as the rapid eye movement (REM) phase. The study concluded that disturbances in sleep and the absence of REM deep sleep are related to calcium deficiency. We have used the citrate form of calcium because it is better absorbed than calcium carbonate, even on an empty stomach or by those people who are low on stomach acid. It costs a little more than carbonate but it works much better.
Niacinamide/Vitamin B3 – Studies have found that niacin deficiency can affect sleep and that taking a niacin supplement can help improve sleep quality. It is thought that low niacin levels disrupt the firing of brain neurons and affect the sleep-wake cycle. As a B vitamin, niacin is also involved in the synthesis of serotonin, which is then used to produce melatonin. Niacin can help restless leg syndrome, which reduces the number of sleep disruptions due to involuntary limb movements.
Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate (P5P or Bio-active Vitamin B6) – Vitamin B6 is required for the synthesis of several neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine and GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid), which are critical for brain function, relaxation, mood and sleep. B6 is involved in the synthesis of melatonin, and as a B vitamin, is also helpful for restless leg syndrome. B6 also helps maintain hormone balance in women by regulating levels of estrogen and progesterone. We use P5P instead of vitamin B6 because P5P is the bio-active form of B6 and some people have trouble converting B6 into P5P. B vitamins are water-soluble and are not stored in your body, so they need to be constantly replenished. Many substances can prevent B6 from being absorbed, including alcohol, coffee, birth control pills, food coloring and more. In addition, B vitamins are delicate and are easily destroyed by microwaving, freezing, canning and heat.
Vitamin B12 (Methylcobalamin) – B12 is important for regulating mood, preventing irritability, improving sleep, and supporting brain cell health. B12 speeds up the rate at which melatonin is produced at night. Studies show that B12 helps regulate sleep-wake cycles even in people with no known deficiency. It is possible that low B12 levels in the central nervous system can cause insomnia and other sleep-wake disorders before B12 deficiency shows up in lab results. B12 can also improve restless leg syndrome. Most B12 supplements use cyanocobalamin which is chemically synthesized. We use methylcobalamin because it is naturally occurring and bio-active. It is also retained in higher amounts within your tissues. Methylcobalamin works in your brain but cyanocobalamin does not. B12 deficiency is a common problem for many older adults, vegans and vegetarians. As we age, the absorption of B12 from food declines. Alcohol consumption depletes B12 and issues with GI function can lead to deficiency because B12 absorption depends on digestive enzymes and stomach acids being in balance.
Magnesium Bisglycinate – Magnesium deficiency is common in developed countries and can cause many symptoms, including anxiety, trouble sleeping/insomnia, and restless leg syndrome. Magnesium is vital for GABA function, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that produces hormones like serotonin which calm the brain and promote relaxation. A magnesium deficiency can increase the production of cortisol, a stress hormone that can cause anxiety. Magnesium relaxes your muscles and lowers your heart rate, making it easier to fall asleep. Magnesium helps regulate levels of calcium and potassium, and is also needed by your brain to produce melatonin. A 2012 study found that magnesium can increase sleep time, make it easier to fall asleep, increase melatonin, and lower levels of cortisol. We use bisglycinate because it is much more bio-active than other types of magnesium. Magnesium bisglycinate is four times more effective than citrate forms of magnesium. Bisglycinate passes directly into cells so people with poor digestion or absorption can still have beneficial results. It is one of only two forms of magnesium that can cross the blood-brain barrier. Magnesium assists with vitamin B6 metabolism and taking magnesium together with B6 will improve the absorption of the magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is common due to our consumption of processed foods and the depletion of magnesium from agricultural soil and water. Caffeine and alcohol consumption also deplete magnesium. Very few people get the daily recommended intake of magnesium. It can take up to three months to see results of magnesium supplementation.
Thiamine/Vitamin B1 – The B vitamins are involved in the synthesis of serotonin, which is then used to make melatonin, and are necessary for the production of sleep chemicals in the central nervous system (CNS). Thiamine is used in the CNS to produce at least 2 neurotransmitters: acetylcholine and GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid). Thiamine and magnesium are connected; taking thiamine can prevent magnesium deficiency and thiamine deficiency can be caused or sustained by magnesium deficiency. The B vitamins can improve restless leg syndrome, which reduces the number of sleep disruptions due to involuntary limb movements.
Zinc Orotate – Zinc is necessary for the metabolism of melatonin and helps regulate dopamine. Zinc needs vitamin B6 to be metabolized. When we are under stress, we tend to get rid of zinc in our urine, sweat and saliva. Our supplements use only zinc orotate because it passes through cell membranes easier than other types of zinc, so therefore there will be higher concentrations in your tissues. Zinc gluconate and zinc oxide are popular but not very bio-available; little is absorbed by your body. Zinc is depleted by alcohol consumption. If you eat processed foods or very little meat or dairy, a zinc supplement is a good idea.