Sleep Aids and Supplements

By Emma Forbes

You can enhance your sleep quality with the use of supplements. A good diet will also enhance your sleeping patterns, but often supplements can fill holes in your diet and optimize your sleeping schedule.

Modern lifestyle or environment limits many people’s choices of food, and this article was created to point out deficiencies modern people may have. Look to the bottom of the page to see an optimal food selection that covers many of these supplements and see how you compare.

GENERAL SLEEP ENHANCERS – improve quality and reduce demand

1. Vitamin D3

D3 has a regulatory effect on sleeping patterns, up to 80% of people are deficient in D3 and many sleeping disorders are related to this deficiency. It is useful to take it early in the day to help regulate the circadian rhythm. It is also useful to use in winter when there is little sunlight, for the same reasons. It is also a powerful antioxidant and general health promoter and likely reduces sleep deprivation through the same mechanisms as vitamin E.

It is important to increase the intake of Vitamin A with an increased vitamin D, as vitamin D can increase the risk of Vit A deficiency through metabolic use.

A typical effective dose is between 1,000IU and 5,000IU per day for optimal health. For a cheap brand click here.

2. Melatonin

Melatonin has a neuroprotective effect against chronic sleep deprivation. It is a strong antioxidant across the entire body, and specifically in the hippocampus where biomarkers for sleep deprivation are found. Melatonin also significantly controls core body temperature which plays a large part in circadian rhythm. There is much evidence that a modern population has a melatonin deficiency – many modern environmental influences such as diet, mains power, use of mobile phones and other melatonin production-impedances severely lower the amount of melatonin produced in the pineal gland at night, even in complete darkness. Along with good sleep hygiene, most people should benefit from using slow-release melatonin in the middle of the night.

If steps are taken to counter the drowsiness caused by high doses of melatonin, paired with vitamin D3, and in conjunction with Segmented Sleep, this combo should be one of the first steps a beginner trying to fix their sleep should take.

3. Vitamin E

Full Spectrum E has a neuroprotective effect against chronic sleep deprivation in several studies, this should be useful for both adapting to and sustaining a polyphasic schedule. If you are in a sleep deprivation stage of an exaptation, do not use this supplement as it will counteract your deprivation. It is suggested you use a complete spectrum E, rather than just alpha-tocopherol, as high dose alpha-tocopherol has been shown to have detrimental effects such as increased cardiovascular risk, and low absorption.
You can pair this with a PDE4 inhibitor like Quercetin to help recycle the vitamin E in your brain, and prolong its effect. You can also pair it with fish oil to improve the action of DHA and reduce peroxidation, you can also pair with Melatonin and DHEA (all three together) to prevent vitamin E loss and increase tissue vitamin E levels.

A typical effective dose is 200IU mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols. For the best quality brand (it contains the most tocotrienols and has CoQ10, ALA and C) click here.

4. SCFAs

SCFAs have a correlation to sleep modulation and the prevention of sleep deprivation. Often it has been claimed that certain diets (especially vegan) can help one adapt to a reduced sleep schedule, and this is mostly because of the fermentation properties of soluble fiber into SCFAs (especially butyrate).

You can supplement with magnesium/calcium butyrate or sodium/potassium butyrate supplement. A typical effective dose is 3.5g of butyrate one to three times a day.

5. Curing deficiencies

Glycine, Taurine or Galanine deficiencies may be a cause for poor quality sleep or slow sleep onset. These is an amino acid that is used by the body to induce relaxation or start the sleep process, useful for both SWS and REM sleep. Administration improves subjective sleep quality. A typical effective dose is 3g to be taken at dinner time or before bed. There is evidence that many diets are low in glycine and some vegan diets are low in Taurine.

Many vitamin deficiencies can destroy sleep quality, especially B vitamin deficiencies, or calcium/magnesium/zinc deficiencies. A good multivitamin like ADAM or Orange Triad may help cure these deficiencies. Of course, if a deficiency persists, then seek the help of a doctor as a more complex underlying problem may be present.

Other compounds that interact with Sleep

These compounds may have both positive and negative effects on people’s sleep. Legal experimentation with these compounds may be warranted if you suffer from a slow-wave sleep deficiency. Research these before you use them.

Melatonin receptor Agonists such as Ramelteon, Agomelatine and Tasimalteon are a general sleep aid that acts similarly to melatonin, in fact works on the same melatonin receptors. It helps establish a circadian rhythm and has a longer half-life than melatonin.

GH administration will decrease SWS and promote REM, thus the relationship with SWS related GH secretion and REM rebounds later that morning.

Ghrelin administration  will decrease SWS and promote REM, thus the relationship with SWS related GH secretion and REM rebounds later that morning.

NGF administration can help decrease mania and increase SWS.

BDNF is correlated with LTP and deeper sleep.


SWS ENHANCERS – increase slow wave sleep specifically

1. Magnesium

Magnesium is linked to many things such as optimal thermoregulation, cardiovascular health, muscle relaxation, and most importantly it can increases SWS. This is useful to be taken at night with dinner (before a core or first segment) when you want to increase the quality of SWS. Many diets are deficient in magnesium, and whilst some may have sufficient RDI, supplementation is needed for optimization!

You can choose magnesium-only supplements glycinate chelate, aspartate taurine, or calcium malate or take a magnesium zinc combination such as ZMA. Other forms of magnesium tend to act as laxatives or mutagens and will interrupt SWS due to intestinal movement.

Typical effective doses are 400mg taken before a dusk core sleep. Cheap quality brand here.

2.  Valerian

Valerian is a relaxant and a supporter of SWS. Using valerian root extract results in reduced slow-wave sleep latency and total SWS increases too. Long term administration has been shown to be more effective than short term administration, you can expect to see greater changes 1-2 weeks after taking it each night before a core sleep.

Doses can be effective in as little as 200mg root extract in alcohol or can be made as tea, to be taken before a dusk core sleep.

3. Melatonin

Melatonin has a regulatory effect on sleep spindles, brain wave frequency and sleep architecture. Small doses (200ug) can lower brain wave frequency if awake and increase production use of brain serotonin which will increase SWS.  Good for sleep induction before a dusk core sleep.

Typical effective doses are around 250mcg a few hours before core sleep. For the cheapest 500mcg brand click here.

Other compounds that interact with SWS

These compounds may have both positive and negative effects on people’s sleep. Legal experimentation with these compounds may be warranted if you suffer from a slow-wave sleep deficiency. Research these before you use them.

5-HTP is can to restore SWS in SWS deficient people and may increase total SWS cause a REM rebound some hours after ingestion.

GABA Analogs such as Gabapentin, Picamilon, may increase sleep quality safely via the GABA receptors which are important in the modulation of SWS.

L-theanine is shown to reduce the negative impact caffeine has on SWS, and may increase SWS in some people.

GHRH administration can enhance SWS and decrease light sleep.

DSIP is shown to increase SWS and normalize disturbed sleeping patterns.

Zolpidem (Ambien) is a muscle relaxant and anticonvulsant, it will help initiate sleep and can increase memory consolidation. It is not without risks and adverse effects.

GHB definitely increases SWS and growth hormone, but it may negatively impact memory consolidation.

Alcohol (Ethanol) will increase SWS but will negatively impact the function of SWS such as secertion of GH or memory consolidation. It is suggested you NOT rely on these for sleep.

Benzodiazepines such as diazepam and temazepam may increase sleep induction and slow wave sleep but they have long half-lives and a long list of side effects. It is suggested you NOT rely on these for sleep, they are not conducive to polyphasic sleep.


REM ENHANCERS – increase rapid eye movement sleep specifically

1. Choline

Increasing Choline storage is important to the cholinergic mechanisms of REM sleep. Especially if you are going to be using a racetam nootropic which decreases free choline, it is important to have a good choline intake. You can also increase your choline intake with soy lecithin or egg yolks. There are many forms of choline, the useful ones are CDP-choline, Alpha-GPC.

Typical effective doses may be x200mg, once after a dusk core and again once in the morning. For a cheap (AUS) quality brand click here.

2. Uridine

Uridine shows a large range of effects on the brain, it uplifts and stabilizes mood, reduces stress, moments of OCD and anxiety, and helps normalize dopamine release. In conjunction with DHA and a source of choline, it has been acclaimed as one of the best combinations for cognitive enhancement and reduction of risk for cognitive disease (such as Alzheimer’s or depression). It is also involved in sleep induction and can increase choline levels in the brain 50% so it can also be considered a REM promoter.

Uridine increases the risk of vitamin B5 deficiency through metabolic use. Ideally, increase B vitamin intake, and uridine is also best taken with choline, DHA, magnesium, and vitamin E. A typical effective dose is 250mg UMP, orally, or 25mg sublingually before a dawn sleep. For a cheap brand click here.

3. X-racetam

Racetams like Piracetam and Oxiracetam are known to increase choline uptake into cells, and to increase choline phosphoglycerides biosynthesis. This means if it is taken before entering into REM, the cholinergic effects of REM are increased, along with dream recall and increase total REM.

Typical effective doses may be either 2x1600mg Piracetam after a dusk core sleep and again 4 hours after, or a single dose of 800mg of Oxiracetam.

4. Melatonin

Melatonin has a regulatory effect on sleep spindles, brain wave frequency and sleep architecture. At large doses (5mg+) it will increase REM but decrease SWS and delta activity. Medium doses cause increased LNREM so they are not so useful.

While small doses will increase drowsiness, larger doses have the opposite effect and reduce drowsiness and promote napping (intermittently interrupts sleep), but combined with unbalanced brain chemistry may cause delirium.

While the (5mg+) dose is quoted above, the brain naturally produces its own melatonin, and if taken after a dusk core sleep, the brain may only need 1-3mg for melatonin levels to peak equal to the 5mg administration level.

An effective dose is 1-3mg slow release taken after a dusk core sleep.

Other compounds that interact with REM

These compounds may have both positive and negative effects on people’s sleep. Legal experimentation with these compounds may be warranted if you suffer from a slow-wave sleep deficiency. Research these before you use them.

DHEA may help increase the production of correct night-hormones at night, and DHEA helps offset the effect of melatonin nighttime sleepiness without effecting cortisol. 10-50mg DHEA increases REM sleep and so is useful for enhancing nighttime wakefulness/core temperature and increasing REM sleep.

Huperzine has an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor effect, which means choline stays active and is not broken down between bouts of REM sleep, it increases awareness of REM and so it can also help with lucidity and dream retention.. There is evidence that long term or toxic administration of Huperzine can downregulate choline receptors accumulatively.



1. EPA/DHA/Iodine

Being EPA/DHA deficient can cause problems in a baby’s sleeping patterns. DHA is an essential fatty acid that cannot be synthesized by the body and so it is required you consume it. Functional effects of n-3 supply on sleep-wake cycles and heart rate rhythms support the need for dietary n-3 fatty acids during early development. If a deficiency can affect a baby so harshly, it will affect adults too.

While ALA is a (plant-derived) omega-3, it can only convert to EPA at a low rate of 0.3-6% and to DHA at a rate of 0.1-4% and one would need to consume an average of 47g of ALA, daily, assuming the conversion rates hold up at megadoses of ALA. EPA/DHA supplements are important to all walks of life unless you are getting enough of each from raw (and to a lesser degree cooked) seafood. DHA is also most effective when taken in conjunction with iodine, selenium and zinc and vitamin E and B12, such as that found in seafood, so take this into account if using supplementation.

Iodine is an important thyroid hormone precursor, and thyroid function is important in controlling both body and sleep. While severe iodine deficiency can cause mental retardation, few modern people are severely deficient because processed foods and salts contain supplemental iodine, but many are on the border of deficiency. You can find iodine as a supplement or in seafood and seaweed.

You can aim for 1080mg of DHA and 1 mg of iodine per day for optimal brain functioning.

2. MCT Oil

Medium Chain Triglyceride Oils will not directly help with sleep deprivation, but the metabolites created by MCTs are a favored fuel by glial cells in the brain. They will help induce thermogenesis to keep you warm (one of the symptoms of polyphasic sleep is a core temperature drop) and will give you sugar-like energy for both mental and physical function without the insulin spike that will make a polyphasic sleeper feel sleepy. MCT oil is typically made from tasteless, odorless C8 and C10 triglycerides and can be added to food and drink throughout the day.

A typical effective dose is one to three tablespoons per day with food. As with fiber increases, start with a low dose and increase slowly to avoid laxative action when first taking this supplement.

One should start with only 1-3 supplements at a time and build up a repertoire of supplements over time so that they may understand how their body reacts each one.  If you know you can get an effective dose of something from food you should first eat the food before supplementation.

If you are a monophasic sleeping looking to improve your sleep quality without polyphasic sleep, then the top 3 recommended items would be 0.25mg melatonin + 400mg magnesium before sleep and 5000IU vitamin d in the morning.

These lists are an example for some to follow, in order when experimenting with supplements to improve their sleep health. Many of these items work together to form a optimal and healthy brain.


Dusk 7PM: Melatonin 0.25mg

Dawn 3AM: Melatonin 5mg

Morning 7AM: Vitamin D 5,000IU


Dusk 7PM: ZMA – Magnesium 450mg, Zinc 30mg

Dawn 3AM: Krill Oil – EPA 1080mg, DHA 720mg


Dusk 7PM: Valerian 200mg

Dawn 3AM: Uridine 250mg + Alpha-GPC 250mg

Morning 7AM: Vitamin E 200IU


Dawn 3AM: Oxiracetam 800mg


Here is an example of a diet that covers many of these supplements at once. Understandably people’s sense of taste or sense of morality limit them from eating some of these foods, in that case supplementation should be considered.

Oysters or other fatty seafood: EPA/DHA, Iodine, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Vitamin E, Selenium, Zinc, Choline

Liver: Uridine, Vitamin B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, Selenium

Yeast Extract: Uridine, Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B9, Magnesium

Eggs: Choline, Selenium

Fermented Oat Bran: SCFAs from fiber, Magnesium, Manganese, Selenium, Vitamin B1, B2, B5, B6, B9

Kale: SCFAs from fiber, Vitamin A (+C&K), Magnesium

Coconut: MCT oil, SCFAs from fiber, general minerals

SCFA consumption can be increased with highly soluble fibers, such as fruits, vegetables, slippery elm, chia, psyllium husk, flax, etc. It is suggested to increase the intake of soluble fiber slowly to prevent intestinal blockage. You can also increase your SCFA consumption with raw high-fat dairy such as raw butter, raw cheese, and raw milk. Certain animals such as buffalo, sheep, and goats have greater amounts of SCFA than others like a cow.

Uridine can be found in organ meats such as the liver, pancreas, or in bacteria such as brewers yeast. If you would like to read more, check out this thread.