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Supplements to Help You Stay Asleep

Staying asleep comes down to managing everything that would wake you up, like blood sugar, nighttime cortisol spikes, histamine, hormones, and pain. Let’s talk about those things with the exception of pain, which is its giant topic, and I can’t do it justice in this format.

General Supplements to Help You Stay Asleep

Time-release melatonin – I waxed poetic about melatonin in the last episode because I do love it so much. Melatonin, however, has a short duration of action, and for some people, it puts them to sleep well, but they wake up after a certain number of hours feeling ready to go. Sadly, ready-to-go is inconvenient if it happens at 2:00 am. For some people, a time-release or extended-release melatonin will solve this problem nicely, giving them a slow and steady dose through the night. Some people notice that if they take extended-release melatonin, they feel a little groggy the following morning, like perhaps some of the melatonin is still being released after they wake. This is especially true if you take the melatonin around midnight and expect to get up at 6:00 am because the extended release is supposed to last roughly eight hours. Also, remember that human metabolism is nothing if not tricksy, so the actual duration of release in your body could be different than the target.

Supplements to Help Manage Blood Sugar Overnight

Nighttime blood sugar spikes and drops can cause anything from micro-arousals to full waking events. In diabetes, something called the “dawn phenomenon” is well documented. In this situation, your early morning rise in blood sugar, somewhere between 3:00 and 7:00 am, is not actually managed by a rise in insulin. I see this happen in a lot of people who test normal for blood sugars, but who have a lot of ups and downs through the day as well.

Addressing this problem long-term comes down to actually managing your blood sugar overall, because if you’re all over the map during the day it’s unreasonable to expect your body to keep it steady overnight. But, while you’re implementing changes like adopting a low glycemic index diet and following Jesse Inchauspe’s Glucose Goddess Method hacks, there are a few additional things you can do to help smooth out your nights and get better sleep.

  • Make sure your evening meal is heavily weighted toward protein, good fats like olive oil or grass-fed meat fats, and vegetables. Leave the carbs out.
  • Add a fiber supplement to your last glass of water of the day. This will also help to smooth out blood sugars.
  • Consider a blood sugar management supplement before bed. There are several great formulas out there, but look for one with proven ingredients like alpha-lipoic acid, chromium, inositol, bitter melon, gymnemna sylvestra, or berberine.
  • Focus on controlling sugars, starches, and carbs in your diet. I suggest a step-down program that starts with extremely limited carbs for a month or so to break the carbohydrate habit, then gradually allows more in a balanced way.
  • If you have been diagnosed with diabetes and are experiencing this symptom, it could be a sign that your prescription medications are inadequate or that your insulin timing needs adjusting. Talk with your doctor about it to see if they can make changes that help you sleep through the night.

Supplements To Help Manage Cortisol Overnight

Night-time cortisol spikes reflect a larger problem: your adrenals are overtaxed and trying to keep up with too many demands. This is called adrenal fatigue and is very common in North America as we push ever harder to achieve, earn, keep up with the Jones, and otherwise fulfill unrealistic cultural expectations. Not that I have an opinion about it or anything. When this fatigue is in its early stages, what we see are the adrenals eagerly pushing out cortisol around 4:00 am, doing their best to stay ahead of the morning rush, which then causes an early wake-up, adds to sleep loss, and makes the problem worse in the long-term.

In this situation, supporting your adrenals and their health during the day is a great idea, and we’ll dive into that topic in more depth later this season. Overnight, however, I only know about one supplement that helps control night-time cortisol spikes. It’s called Cortisol Manager from Integrated Therapeutics. It takes a few nights to really work, and some people say they feel a little less energetic during the day when they take it, which makes sense because it’s keeping your body from doing the early adrenaline rush, but overall, it’s the only one I’ve seen help to manage this problem. Remember, it isn’t enough by itself, and some daytime support for your adrenals is important here.

Lowering Histamine Overnight

We’ve talked a bit about high histamine at night. If you wake up because of histamine, it usually feels like you’re too hot, your mind is racing, and for some people, skin gets itchy. Also, it’s usually food or drink dependent – some nights it happens and some nights it doesn’t, and it’s more likely to happen on nights when you have a drink of alcohol or eat something higher in histamine, like leftovers.

If this happens then supplements can help to take the edge off, but the real fix is making diet changes that will help to bring down your histamine levels long term. To manage this in the moment, try taking activated charcoal before bed, a DAO enzyme which helps to break down the histamine in foods, with your evening meal, and ix-nay on the inks-dray, or, in plain English, stop with the alcohol. In the future, go for fresh, low histamine foods and avoid fermented, aged, or otherwise histamine-rich fare.

Supplements to Help Balance Hormones

Women’s hormones are a big topic with sleep disturbance, and women in transitional hormone times, like perimenopause, can vouch for this. In general, estrogen is the hormone that is more likely to keep you awake, and progesterone is the one that helps you fall asleep. The problem is that if you’re estrogen-dominant or tend in that direction, then any progesterone you take gets converted to estrogen as quickly as you take it. The best policy, then, is to help your body manage the estrogens with something like ground flax seeds, which help bind to estrogen in the gut and detox it and also help to balance the ratios between stronger and weaker estrogens to reduce their detrimental effects. This can also be done with a supplement like Indole-3-carbiol, but flax seeds are a lot less expensive. Flax seeds can also help if you supplement progesterone to reduce the amount that gets converted to estrogen.

Women’s hormones are a massive topic, and if you’re interested in this specifically, I would highly recommend going back and listening to season 3, which is all about fertility and hormone balance. Thanks so much for being here today; please like, subscribe, do a little dance, make a little love, and get down tonight.

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Amy Neuzil
Amy Neuzil

Dr. Amy Neuzil, N.D. is a leading expert in MTHFR and epigenetics, and she is passionate about helping people achieve optimal health and wellness for their genetic picture. She has helped thousands of people overcome health challenges using a simple, step-by-step approach that starts with where they are today. Dr. Neuzil's unique approach to wellness has helped countless people improve their energy levels, lose weight, and feel better mentally and emotionally. If you're looking for a way to feel your best, Dr. Amy Neuzil can help. Contact her today to learn more about how she can help you achieve optimal health and wellness.

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