I’m a big fan of Andrew Huberman the Stanford Neuro-scientist – scroll down to find his sleep Podcasts toolkits and ideas on perfecting your sleep.
I have a client who is having sleep issues so I wanted to do research on this topic and this is what I found.
- Pharmacogenetics: Research is exploring how an individual’s genetic makeup may influence their response to insomnia medications, helping personalize treatment.
- Alternative Therapies: Complementary and alternative therapies such as acupuncture, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and yoga are being studied for their potential in improving sleep quality and addressing insomnia.
- Advancements in CPAP Technology: Efforts are ongoing to make CPAP machines more user-friendly and comfortable, as compliance with CPAP therapy can be challenging for some patients.
- Neurostimulation: Research into neurostimulation therapies, such as hypoglossal nerve stimulation, is expanding for the treatment of sleep apnea.
In summary, both insomnia and sleep apnea have well-established treatment options backed by scientific research. Individuals with these conditions need to consult with healthcare professionals to determine the most suitable treatment plan, which may involve a combination of approaches. Ongoing research continues to improve our understanding of these sleep disorders and refine treatment strategies.
- Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain, which plays a crucial role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Some research suggests that melatonin supplements may be beneficial for individuals with insomnia, especially for those with circadian rhythm disruptions such as jet lag or shift work. The effectiveness of melatonin may vary based on the cause of insomnia.
- Valerian Root: Valerian is an herbal supplement that has been used for centuries to promote relaxation and sleep. Some studies suggest that valerian may be helpful for improving sleep quality and reducing the time it takes to fall asleep. However, its effectiveness can vary from person to person.
- L-Theanine: L-Theanine is an amino acid found in tea leaves, and it is known for its calming and relaxing effects. Some research has shown that L-theanine may improve sleep quality and reduce anxiety, making it a potential supplement for individuals with insomnia.
- Chamomile: Chamomile is an herbal remedy often used in teas to promote relaxation and sleep. While research on chamomile’s effectiveness in treating insomnia is limited, some individuals find it helpful in calming nerves and improving sleep.
For Sleep Apnea:
- Magnesium: Magnesium is a mineral that plays a role in muscle relaxation and may help reduce the severity of snoring and sleep apnea symptoms in some cases. However, the scientific evidence supporting its use is still limited.
- Vitamin D: Some research has suggested a link between low vitamin D levels and sleep apnea. Supplementing with vitamin D may help in cases where a deficiency is present. However, more research is needed to establish a clear connection.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil supplements, have anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies suggest that they may help reduce inflammation in the airways and improve sleep apnea symptoms, particularly in individuals with obesity-related sleep apnea.
- N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC): NAC is an antioxidant that has been studied for its potential to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the airways. Some research has shown that it may be beneficial for improving symptoms in mild to moderate sleep apnea.
It’s important to emphasize that while these supplements have shown promise in some studies, they should not be used as standalone treatments for insomnia or sleep apnea. They should be considered as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes lifestyle changes and, in the case of sleep apnea, medical interventions like continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. Furthermore, not all supplements are suitable for everyone, and the right choice should be made based on an individual’s specific needs and in consultation with a healthcare provider. Research on natural supplements for insomnia and sleep apnea continues to evolve, and it’s essential to stay informed about the latest scientific findings and recommendations from healthcare professionals when considering their use.
Massage therapy is a popular complementary and alternative treatment often used for relaxation and stress reduction. While it may not be a primary treatment for insomnia or sleep apnea, research suggests that massage can offer several potential benefits for individuals experiencing sleep-related issues. Here’s a discussion of the science and research behind how massage can benefit insomnia relief and sleep apnea:
For Insomnia Relief:
- Stress Reduction: One of the key benefits of massage is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. Chronic stress and anxiety are common contributors to insomnia. Research indicates that massage can lower cortisol levels (a stress hormone) while increasing the release of endorphins and serotonin, which are associated with relaxation and improved mood.
- Improved Sleep Quality: Several studies have shown that regular massage can lead to improvements in sleep quality and increased total sleep time. This can be attributed to the relaxation and stress-reduction effects of massage.
- Enhanced Circadian Rhythms: Massage may help regulate the body’s internal clock, which governs the sleep-wake cycle. Regular massages can help establish a consistent sleep routine, which is essential for healthy sleep patterns.
- Pain Reduction: Insomnia can sometimes be linked to chronic pain conditions. Massage therapy has been found to alleviate pain by increasing blood flow to affected areas, reducing muscle tension, and improving overall comfort.
For Sleep Apnea:
- Muscle Relaxation: Sleep apnea, particularly obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), is characterized by the collapse of the upper airway during sleep. Massage therapy, especially in the neck and upper back areas, can help relax muscles that may contribute to airway blockages. This muscle relaxation can reduce the severity of snoring and apnea events in some individuals.
- Stress Reduction: Stress can exacerbate sleep apnea symptoms. Massage can help reduce stress and anxiety levels, potentially improving sleep apnea outcomes.
- Improving Blood Circulation: Enhanced blood circulation from massage may help oxygenate tissues, including the airway, which can be beneficial for individuals with sleep apnea.
- Enhancing the Function of Respiratory Muscles: Some research suggests that massage can improve the function of the respiratory muscles, which can be beneficial for individuals with sleep-related breathing disorders.
While these benefits of massage are supported by scientific research, it’s important to note that massage is generally used as a complementary therapy rather than a primary treatment for insomnia or sleep apnea. It should be integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan alongside medical interventions like continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy for sleep apnea or cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) for insomnia.
Individual responses to massage can vary, so it’s crucial to consult with a qualified massage therapist or healthcare provider to ensure that the treatment is tailored to individual needs and safety considerations. Additionally, the effectiveness of massage can be influenced by the specific type of massage, the frequency and duration of sessions, and the individual’s overall health and lifestyle.
Reducing anxiety and cortisol levels in humans involves a combination of lifestyle modifications, therapeutic interventions, and relaxation techniques. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress, and chronically elevated cortisol levels are associated with increased anxiety. Here is a discussion of the science and research behind some of the best ways to reduce anxiety and cortisol:
1. Stress Reduction Techniques:
- Mindfulness Meditation: Mindfulness meditation has been extensively studied and has been shown to reduce anxiety and lower cortisol levels. It involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment, which helps individuals manage stress and anxiety.
- Yoga: Regular yoga practice, which combines physical postures, controlled breathing, and meditation, has been found to reduce cortisol levels and alleviate anxiety. It promotes relaxation and stress resilience.
- Breathing Exercises: Deep breathing exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing, can activate the body’s relaxation response, lower cortisol levels, and reduce anxiety.
2. Regular Exercise:
- Regular physical activity is associated with reduced anxiety and lower cortisol levels. Exercise increases the release of endorphins, which are natural mood elevators. Aerobic activities, such as running or swimming, are particularly effective at reducing cortisol.
3. Adequate Sleep:
- Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to increased cortisol levels and exacerbate anxiety. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule and getting enough restorative sleep is essential for reducing cortisol and anxiety.
4. Nutrition and Diet:
- A balanced diet that includes whole foods and minimizes processed or high-sugar foods can help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce cortisol spikes. Nutrient-rich foods can support the body’s stress response.
5. Social Support:
- Interactions with friends and family and having a strong social support network can help reduce feelings of anxiety. A strong support system can act as a buffer against stress.
6. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT):
- CBT is an evidence-based psychological therapy that focuses on changing thought patterns and behaviors contributing to anxiety. It has been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety symptoms and, indirectly, cortisol levels.
7. Biofeedback and Neurofeedback:
- Biofeedback and neurofeedback techniques help individuals learn how to control physiological responses like heart rate and brain wave patterns. They can be effective in reducing anxiety and cortisol levels by teaching self-regulation.
8. Medication and Supplements:
- In cases of severe anxiety, healthcare providers may prescribe medication or recommend supplements. Medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and benzodiazepines can help manage anxiety. Supplements like ashwagandha and certain herbal remedies have shown potential in reducing cortisol levels and anxiety in some studies.
9. Time in Nature:
- Spending time in natural environments, known as “ecotherapy” or “forest bathing,” has been shown to reduce cortisol levels and promote relaxation.
10. Relaxation Techniques:
- Progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and autogenic training are relaxation techniques that can reduce anxiety and lower cortisol levels.
It’s important to understand that individual responses to these strategies can vary, and not all approaches may be equally effective for everyone. Customized approaches, combining multiple techniques, are often the most successful in managing anxiety and cortisol. Consulting with a healthcare professional or mental health provider can help individuals determine the most appropriate strategies and interventions for their specific needs. Additionally, addressing chronic anxiety and cortisol levels may require a multi-faceted approach, including both behavioral and therapeutic interventions.
Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera or Indian ginseng, is an adaptogenic herb traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to promote relaxation and reduce stress. While research on the effects of ashwagandha on sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea is still emerging, there is growing interest in its potential benefits. Here’s a discussion of the science and research related to how ashwagandha may benefit insomnia relief and sleep apnea:
For Insomnia Relief:
- Stress Reduction: Chronic stress is a common contributor to insomnia. Ashwagandha has adaptogenic properties, meaning it may help the body adapt to and cope with stress. Several studies have demonstrated that ashwagandha supplementation can reduce perceived stress levels, which may indirectly improve sleep quality.
- Anxiety Reduction: Ashwagandha has been studied for its potential anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effects. Reduced anxiety can contribute to a better night’s sleep, particularly for those with anxiety-related insomnia.
- Cortisol Regulation: Ashwagandha has been shown to modulate the body’s stress response, potentially reducing the release of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress. Elevated cortisol levels can disrupt sleep, so cortisol regulation may be beneficial for insomnia relief.
- Improved Sleep Quality: Some studies suggest that ashwagandha can enhance sleep quality, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- GABA Enhancement: Ashwagandha may enhance the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect on the nervous system. This can promote relaxation and aid in sleep.
For Sleep Apnea:
- Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Sleep apnea, particularly obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), is associated with inflammation in the upper airway. Ashwagandha has anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce inflammation in the airway, potentially improving sleep apnea symptoms.
- Stress Reduction: As mentioned earlier, ashwagandha can reduce stress and anxiety. In cases where stress exacerbates sleep apnea symptoms, stress reduction may indirectly benefit individuals with sleep apnea.
- Muscle Relaxation: Ashwagandha’s muscle relaxant properties might help relax the upper airway muscles and reduce the severity of snoring and apnea events in some individuals with OSA.
It’s essential to note that while these potential benefits of ashwagandha are supported by some scientific evidence, the research in this area is still relatively limited compared to other treatments for insomnia and sleep apnea. Additionally, individual responses to ashwagandha may vary.
Ashwagandha supplements are generally considered safe when used in recommended doses. However, individuals should consult with a healthcare provider before adding any new supplement to their regimen, particularly if they are taking medications or have underlying medical conditions. A healthcare professional can help assess whether ashwagandha is an appropriate part of a treatment plan for sleep disorders and can provide guidance on the most suitable dosage and duration.
Huberman Podcasts and his sleep toolkits
How a Sleep Scientist Falls Asleep – NY Times
Half of all Americans have trouble falling asleep each year. But for Leah Irish, an expert in sleep behavior at North Dakota State University, getting a good night’s sleep starts during the day.
I asked Dr. Irish what she does to prepare for a restful night. Here’s what she said:
She checks in with herself when she wakes up.
A big part of getting a good night’s rest is thinking about and keeping track of how you sleep, said Dr. Irish.
When she wakes up in the morning, she notices how she feels — and reflects on how her actions from the previous night might have influenced her rest.
Sleep-tracking devices or apps can help you notice and learn from patterns in your own sleep.
She keeps her sleep space “cool, clean, and comfortable.”
Studies show that having your bedroom on the cooler side is best for optimal sleep. Dr. Irish optimizes her sleep environment throughout the year by switching out seasonal bedding.
Having a clean and tidy bedroom also helps with peace of mind, she said.
She keeps her phone away from the bed.
Phones are an enemy of sleep, Dr. Irish said.
She keeps hers across the room from her at night. That way she can’t just roll over and pick it up when she can’t sleep.
She removes her dog from the bedroom
Sometimes you have to make tough decisions about who gets to share your sleep space. Dr. Irish said:
We had to kick out our giant pit bull-lab mix out to the living room to sleep because he would walk around on the bed during the night and wake us up.
There’s no shame in putting a pet in a separate room if you are incompatible sleepers.
She makes sleep a priority.
A commitment to good sleep means planning around it, said Dr. Irish.
It’s a paradigm shift; she’s often fitting her social life into her sleep schedule rather than the other way around.
She knows what works for or against her sleep.
Caffeine doesn’t bother Dr. Irish, but working late does. So she makes sure to factor in a few hours post-work to wind down, giving herself enough time to get into a sleep mindset.
Know what keeps you up, and abstain from those things after a certain hour.
If sleep issues persist, consult with your doctor as the problem might be medical.
Other Blog posts of mine on sleep:
more info at:
*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.