Anxiety and sleep (and supps that might help)

Got called up for Jury service this week. The anxiety! Couldn’t believe how I felt about it – I hadn’t felt so anxious since I had my PhD viva. In reality, I think the anxiety stemmed from not knowing how my week would look, whether I’d be called up, if I had to try to reschedule clients for later in the week, whether I would make it down to Queenstown on my Thursday evening flight. A lot of things. Of course, feeling anxious makes it more challenging to sleep as well, so the combination of disrupted sleep and feeling overly stressed was not pleasant.
I’ve written about anxiety and diet before. There is good evidence to show that our gut health is related to brain health, so one of the first things to consider with your mood and anxiety levels is the health of your gut. Any gut related issues could manifest in changes in cognitive function and neurotransmitter production. Similarly, evidence exists that avoiding meat consumption increases the risk of depression and anxiety, as does not eating enough fruits and vegetables – diet quality counts. Lower carbohydrate, lower sugar diets with adequate protein are also important and this paper outlines the argument for dietary interventions to be utilised as part of an overall approach for anxiety.
However, if you have generally covered the diet bases for the most part, what supplements might help both anxiety AND sleep?
Ashwagandha – if you don’t have any auto immune challenges (or are allergic to nightshade vegetables) then this can be really effective at a dose of around 600mg (typically two of the 300mg capsules). It is an adaptogenic, which means it can help your body cope under times of increased stress, helps control cortisol and heat shock proteins that mediate the stress response and is also useful in the dose I suggest to aid in sleep.
L Theanine – has long been used to support the central nervous system in times of stress and anxiety. It’s a non protein amino acid (found in green tea) and increases alpha wave activity in the brain, which is associated with a more relaxed state. In a dose of 200mg it may be effective at reducing anxiety levels and has a very low toxicity profile (i.e. is completely safe).
Magnesium – used by the body in a multitude of ways and has been studied for its usefulness in reducing overall stress and anxiety. It is also seen clinically to be helpful, and the type of magnesium does matter – animal trials show that magnesium threonate crosses the blood brain barrier (and 300mg is suggested dose of elemental magnesium); though this study found some usefulness with magnesium chloride. Magnesium glycinate (in one of my favourite magnesium products, Ethical Nutrients Mega Magnesium) is also well digested and absorbed. Additionally, it contains taurine which is a sulphur amino acid that helps promote antioxidant action in the brain. As inflammation is implicated in neurological disorders including depression, and the reduction of glutathione is related to anxiety, anything to support its production and action is worth taking.
Phosphatidylserine (PS) –  a compound that reduces cortisol. It has also been studied for its impact on reducing stress (understandably) and levels of anxiety. It is scant (the literature) but does exist that some people may benefit. In combination with omega 3s it can reduce cortisol and may help with depressive symptoms. It can be helpful for sleep too. Recommended amounts are around 400mg (they are often sold in 100mg capsules, such as this one here).
Don’t ignore sleep (of which almost all of these help with), stress management and other lifestyle factors that help you remain resilient in today’s world. These supplements will not help if you aren’t already focusing on these things.

2 thoughts on “Anxiety and sleep (and supps that might help)

  1. Dear woman, you’re being put through the wringer!

    My sleep has been quite rough lately. I appreciate these suggestions, I’ve never heard of PS and am interested.

    What are your thoughts on tart cherry juice? I’d prefer not to drink a sugary drink just generally. Curious what you think!


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