June 29, 2023

Andrew Huberman's Sleep Cocktail

Andrew Huberman's Sleep Cocktail

Achieving restful and rejuvenating sleep is essential for overall well-being and optimal cognitive function. In line with the latest research and insights shared by superstar neuroscientist Andrew Huberman, this article presents his lifehacks and supplement recommendations that can support a good night's sleep. By implementing these evidence-based strategies, you can enhance your sleep quality, promote relaxation, and establish healthy sleep patterns.

Andrew Huberman's Life Hacks for a Good Night's Sleep

Morning Tool: Morning Sunlight Viewing, Cortisol, and Melatonin regulation

A variety of factors play a role in controlling our circadian rhythm and sleep, such as exposure to light, physical activity, temperature, hormonal changes, and the body's internal master clock. But morning sunlight exposure is especially important in modulating and synchronizing the body's internal clock. By exposing ourselves to sunlight right after waking up, we can also regulate cortisol and melatonin levels promoting wakefulness in the morning and sleepiness at night. So, make it a habit to step outside first thing in the morning and soak up some sunlight to give your body the signal it needs for a well-balanced sleep-wake cycle.

Morning Tool: Deliberate Cold Exposure

In addition to morning sunlight exposure, deliberate cold exposure, and exercise can greatly impact your sleep and your overall well-being. Deliberate cold exposure in the morning, achieved through methods like cold showers, ice baths, and cryotherapy, can also help give a rise of cortisol in the morning hours to further regulate the body's internal clock.

Morning Tool: Timing Caffeine, Avoiding “Afternoon Crash,”

Timing your caffeine intake is an often overlooked aspect of sleep improvement. According to Huberman, it's advisable to wait for approximately 1-1.5 hours after waking up before indulging in that first cup of coffee. When we first wake up, our bodies naturally produce cortisol, gradually increasing and reaching their peak within the first hour of the day. Consuming caffeine during this period can interfere with the body's cortisol production and inhibit its natural awakening process. By waiting for 1-1.5 hours, we can allow cortisol to do it's job in optimizing the natural rhythm of our wakefulness.

On top of that, caffeine stimulates the release of various hormones, including adrenaline, which can trigger the liver to release stored glucose into the bloodstream. This sudden influx of glucose raises blood sugar levels provides a surge of energy. However, if there is no food present to slow down the absorption of caffeine, this process can happen quickly, leading to a rapid spike in blood sugar. In response to the elevated blood sugar, the body produces insulin to facilitate the uptake of glucose into cells. As a result, blood sugar levels rapidly drop, leading to an energy crash. This crash can manifest as fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and a general feeling of low energy which can mess up our day and force us into an unwanted nap, disrupting our sleep-wake cycle. In case we do intermittent fasting and we still don't have food in our stomach, take L-Theanine with the first cup of coffee so it slows down the absorption of coffee to avoid the energy crash.

Evening Tool: Hot Bath/Sauna, Avoiding Blue Light, Temperature & Sleeping Environment

As the day winds down, it's time to focus on what we can do before sleeping to improve its quality. A hot bath or sauna session before bedtime can paradoxically help lower your body temperature, relax your muscles, and alleviate tension, making it easier to fall asleep. Additionally, it's crucial to avoid blue light exposure before bedtime to regulate your body's circadian rhythm. Blue light emitted from electronic devices like mobile devices, laptops and television can interfere with the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for promoting sleep.

To create an optimal sleeping environment, also consider adjusting your room temperature, as the recommended temperature for sleep is around 60-67°F (16-19°C).  When we go to sleep, our core body temperature naturally drops slightly, reaching its lowest point during the late night or early morning hours. A cooler sleep environment helps facilitate this temperature decrease, aiding in the initiation and maintenance of sleep.

In particular, our head plays a crucial role in regulating body temperature during sleep. The head contains specialized blood vessels called arteriovenous anastomoses that help dissipate heat. When exposed to a cooler environment, these blood vessels dilate, allowing for increased blood flow and heat loss from the head. As a result, the brain and surrounding tissues are cooled, promoting a more conducive environment for sleep.

To understand the process, just think of a hot summer night when you couldn’t control your ambient temperature. With the head unable to lower its temperature effectively we usually experience difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, as the body struggles to achieve the optimal sleep-inducing temperature range. On the other hand, in a cool environment, the body can more efficiently regulate its temperature, facilitating a smoother transition into sleep and enhancing overall sleep quality.

Andrew Huberman's Recommended Sleep Supplements

If we still need an extra boost for a quality sleep Huberman main go-to sleep aids are magnesium, apigenin and L-Theanine. These supplements should be taken 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime to aid in falling asleep quickly and sleeping soundly throughout the night.

According to Huberman, “That cocktail of 50 mg of apigenin, 300–400 mg of magnesium threonate or magnesium bisglycinate, and 200–400 mg of l-theanine, for me, has been the best way to consistently fall asleep quickly and stay asleep most if not the entire night, which, for me, is about 7–8 hours.”

Magnesium Threonate (300-400mg)

Magnesium plays a crucial role in numerous bodily functions, including muscle relaxation, nerve function, and the regulation of sleep. Magnesium deficiency is common and has been linked to sleep disturbances and insomnia. Dr. Huberman recommends taking either magnesium threonate (145 mg) or magnesium bisglycinate (200 mg) as part of his sleep cocktail. These forms of magnesium are more bioavailable and can cross the blood-brain barrier, making them more effective for promoting relaxation and sleep.

Apigenin (50mg)

Apigenin is a flavonoid found in various plant sources, such as chamomile, celery, and parsley. It is the active ingredient in chamomile tea that makes people feel drowsy. Huberman recommends taking 50 mg of apigenin as part of his sleep cocktail. Apigenin is thought to promote sleep and relaxation by binding to the GABA receptors in the brain and calming the nervous system to induce sleep. The research suggesting that apigenin may improve sleep quality has firm legs since chamomile tea, which contains high ammounts of apigenin, has been used for centuries as a natural sleep aid.

L-Theanine (200-400mg)

L-Theanine is an amino acid found primarily in green tea leaves. It is known for its calming and stress-relieving properties, making it an ideal component of Huberman's sleep cocktail. Dr. Huberman suggests taking 100 to 400 mg of L-theanine before bed to enhance sleep quality. Studies have shown that L-Theanine can promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve sleep quality by helping people fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply.

Additional Sleep Aids

In addition to his sleep cocktail, Dr. Huberman incorporates other supplements into his sleep routine on varying schedules to further improve sleep quality:

Glycine (2g) and GABA (100mg)

Every three to four nights, Dr. Huberman takes 2g of glycine and 100mg of GABA in addition to his standard sleep cocktail. He explains that this combination greatly enhances his ability to fall asleep. For those who are having a particularly difficult time getting to sleep, he suggests taking 1 gram of GABA and 1 gram of glycine together for a more potent effect. However, he does not recommend using these higher doses chronically.

Glycine is an amino acid that serves as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. It has been shown to promote sleep by lowering core body temperature and inducing a sense of relaxation. Research supports the idea that glycine supplementation can improve sleep quality and reduce daytime sleepiness.

GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in calming the brain and promoting relaxation. While research on GABA's sleep benefits is limited, some studies suggest that it may help improve sleep quality and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.

Myo-Inositol (900mg)

Dr. Huberman takes 900 mg of myo-inositol every third night as a way to test its ability to improve sleep. He has found that the depth and quality of his sleep significantly improve when taking this supplement. Additionally, myo-inositol can help shorten the amount of time it takes to fall back asleep if one wakes up in the middle of the night.

Myo-inositol is a sugar alcohol that influences the body's insulin response and hormones associated with cognition and mood. Some research supports the idea that myo-inositol can improve sleep quality, subjective sleep quality, and sleep duration. While more research is needed to confirm its sleep benefits, studies have suggested that inositol may improve also low testosterone levels and enhance sperm motility to increase fertility chances.

Supplements to Avoid for Sleep

Melatonin Supplementation: Why Dr. Huberman Doesn't Recommend It

Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and is often taken as a supplement to help with sleep issues. Generally, melatonin supplements are considered safe and effective in low doses for short-term use, but Dr. Huberman does not recommend melatonin supplementation for several reasons:

  1. Limited benefits: Research has shown that melatonin supplementation only increases sleep time by 3.9 minutes and sleep efficiency by 2.2%, making its benefits relatively small.
  2. Inconsistent product quality: Melatonin supplements can contain anywhere from 83% less to 478% more melatonin than advertised, raising concerns about their reliability.
  3. Potential side effects: Melatonin can suppress puberty in children, which is a cause for concern when considering its use.

5-HTP, L-Tryptophan and and serotonin precursors

Dr. Huberman also avoids 5-HTP, L-tryptophan, and other serotonin precursors, due to their negative impact on his sleep. He explains, “When I’ve taken tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin, or serotonin itself, I have a horrendous night’s sleep. I fall asleep very easily, and I experience ridiculously vivid dreams… and then I wake up, and I experience several days of insomnia … For me, supplementing with serotonergic agents is a bad idea.”

However, he does mention that some ongoing studies are investigating the potential benefits of these supplements for increasing glymphatic system activity during sickness and recovery.

Falling Back Asleep: Reveri App, NSDR

If you tend to wake up during the night and struggle to fall back asleep Huberman recommends trying the Reveri App and the NSDR technique. The Reveri App provides self-hypnosis sessions that can help reduce stress, improve sleep, and address other related concerns.

NSDR, a relaxation technique focusing on your breathing and releasing any thoughts or worries hindering sleep, can also assist in falling back asleep more quickly. By utilizing these tools, you can improve your chances of quickly returning to sleep and enjoying a more restful night.

Staying Asleep: Eye Masks, Ear Plugs, Elevating Feet

To help stay asleep throughout the night, also consider using eye masks, ear plugs, and elevating your feet. Eye masks and ear plugs can block out external stimuli that may disrupt sleep, resulting in more REM time, reduced REM latency, fewer arousals, and increased nocturnal melatonin levels. One product in that field that stands out is the Manta Sleep Mask that's built in a way that it puts no pressure on the eye allowing the user to use it seamlessly over the night.

How to Optimize Your Sleep

Even if we put all this work into fixing our sleep, not maintatining a consistent sleep schedule can mess up our entire process. Weekend alcohol consumption, stimulants, and oversleeping can all disrupt sleep schedule consistency. So in order to maximize the benefits of the sleep cocktail, it's essential to build healthy supporting lifestyle as well.

Potential Side Effects and Precautions

As with any supplement regimen, it's important to consult with your qualified healthcare professional first and to be aware of potential side effects and precautions associated with the supplements you want to take. For example, Magnesium can cause stomach pain, cramping, diarrhoea, or nausea in some individuals, while in some rare cases L-theanine may cause sleepwalking or disturbing dreams. By being mindful of these potential side effects and taking appropriate precautions, you can ensure that your sleep cocktail is both safe and effective.

Summary

In summary, Andrew Huberman's lifehacks and sleep cocktail offer a comprehensive and customizable approach to improving how we spend one third of our lives. By combining natural supplements, lifestyle changes, and a focus on maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, you can achieve better sleep and enjoy the numerous benefits that come with it.

Peter V

Not living up to my potential since 1990.As a functional dysfunctional who got max points on the ADHD diagnostic test, I’m dedicated to help people on their mental health journey and to provide them information on how to support their brains to unlock their full potential.

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