The Best Ayurvedic Herbs and Supplements for Sleep

The Best Ayurvedic Herbs and Supplements for Sleep

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A Sleep Epidemic

Chances are, that at some point in your life, you’ve had trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep, or waking up refreshed. You know the feelings of exhaustion or lethargy that follow.  

According to a 2022 survey from the American Sleep Apnea Association, nearly 70 percent of people report getting insufficient sleep at least one night a week—from a sleep disorder, demanding schedules, stress, and more. Insomnia alone affects 10 to 60 percent of the global population, according to some studies.

Research shows us that sleep is everything when it comes to physical and mental health, affecting cognition, memory, immunity, weight, mood, energy levels, and longevity.

Ayurvedic Sleep Solutions

I solve sleep issues by evaluating the imbalance most likely responsible for poor sleep. (Some Western approaches, and even some Ayurvedic doctors, simply prescribe a sedative, which offers only temporary and symptomatic support.)

Ayurvedically, most sleep concerns are caused by a vata imbalance that disturbs the nervous system’s ability to settle down and naturally fall asleep.

Emerging science now supports the ancient Ayurvedic principle that you need energy to sleep!

Research shows that we need cellular energy in the form of the compound adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to support a good night’s sleep.

See also Shilajit Converts Fat and Sugar into ATP

According to a 2011 study published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology, we experience a surge of ATP energy in the brain during the first few hours of sleep. This surge of ATP triggers the release of a natural sedative called adenosine, which puts us to sleep and keeps us asleep. Adenosine is a natural byproduct of ATP, suggesting that in order to get to sleep and stay asleep we need a steady production of cellular energy—not sedation, herbal or otherwise.

Cellular ATP energy, along with its sleep-inducing side-kick adenosine, can also carry us from light sleep into deep sleep. This is where brain waves dramatically slow down and we get the most rejuvenating sleep. During the active stage of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, your body produces even more ATP.

One of the main causes of sleep disturbance is when the stress hormone  cortisol stays elevated into the night. Many Western and Ayurvedic sleep aids try to lower cortisol levels. But research shows that cortisol is naturally regulated by a combination of adenosine and melatonin, a hormone your brain process in response to darkness that helps you align with circadian rhythms and health sleep patterns.

See also Time-Release Melatonin Compared to Regular Melatonin Supplements

The 4 Best Ayurvedic Herbs for Sleep

Instead of trying to sedate the nervous system, the herbs that I use in LifeSpa’s Sleep Easy formula support healthy cellular energy, or  ATP production, while acting as natural adaptogens, or Ayurvedic rasayanas, to balance and rejuvenate vata.

Here are my favorite “four horsemen for sleep,” which make up my Sleep Easy formula.

1. Brahmi (Centella asiatica)

Brahmi is one of my favorite herbs for deep nervous system rejuvenation. It is rejuvenating for the nervous system with a long history of supporting healthy sleep. Brahmi also boosts the production of ATP from the mitochondria within the cells. (1,2,9)

See also The Best Herbs for Stress

2. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Ashwagandha, which is actually named for its ability to support sleep, is considered one of the most well-studied adaptogens, and is used to help reset healthy sleep-wake cycles in those with circadian imbalances.(3) As a deep rejuvenative for the mind, body, and mood, it supports energy during the day and the body’s ability to regulate cortisol levels. (4) In numerous studies, ashwagandha has been shown to boost the natural production of cellular ATP.(10)

See also Get The Energy You Need to Sleep with Ashwagandha

3. Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

Skullcap is another well-studied adaptogen and nervous system and mood tonic. It can support healthy daytime energy and the ability to settle the nervous system in the evening. (5,6) In one study, skullcap protected the brain’s natural production of ATP during stressful states. (11)

See also Podcast Episode 125: Herbs to Balance Your Mind with David Winston

4. Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Passionflower is the final piece of the four horsemen of adaptogenic herbs used in my Sleep Easy formula. Passionflower supports healthy mood and energy during the day and normal sleep cycles at night. For centuries, it has been used as a nervous system, mood, and sleep tonic. (7,8)

Download our FREE ebook: The Ayurvedic Guide to the Best Sleep of Your Life

Suggested Use of LifeSpa’s Sleep Easy

For best results, take 1-2 capsules at 9 p.m., 1-2 capsules at 9:20 p.m., and 1-3 capsules at 9:40 p.m., and then go to bed no later than 10 p.m.


Disclaimer: A sleep disorder is broadly defined as a physical or psychological problem that impairs your ability to sleep or causes increased sleepiness during the day. Everyone can experience sleep problems from time to time. However, you might have a sleep disorder and should consult your primary healthcare practitioner if:

  • You regularly experience difficulty sleeping
  • You are often tired during the day, even if you slept for at least seven hours the night before
  • You have a reduced or impaired ability to perform regular daytime activities
  • Your partner has told you that you snore loudly and sometimes seem to stop breathing.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3116297/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4975583/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3040882/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4270108/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4790408/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23878109
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21294203
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2941540/

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Gratefully,
Dr. John

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