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Andrew Huberman's Sleep Cocktail to Fall Asleep Faster

Many of us take our sleep for granted. While it may feel like not much is happening, it's one of the most important processes for brain health, body function, and healing. Not getting enough sleep and conditions like insomnia may lead to further health implications like increased stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms, just to name a few. Sleep cocktails and various supplements are gaining popularity as a natural approach to help support sleep issues. Neuroscientist Andrew Huberman recommends a specific combination to improve your sleep and overall health.

What is Andrew Huberman known for?

Andrew Huberman, PhD, is a neuroscientist and professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine in the departments of neurobiology, psychiatry, and behavioral sciences. His research has focused on brain development, brain function, neural plasticity (the ability of our nervous system to learn new things and build new brain cell connections through our experiences), and vision.

Dr. Huberman is best known for his podcast "Huberman Lab," which started in 2021 as a way to bring neuroscience to the public. He brings on guest experts to discuss many different topics relating to the brain, from fitness, mental health, and productivity to cognitive function, social connections, and pain. These in-depth episodes can last as long as three hours, making them popular in science and non-science communities alike.

Should you try Huberman’s sleep cocktail?

Since sleep is so intricately woven into our brain health, Dr. Huberman has tackled this by creating his own sleep cocktail to help provide a solution for those who have difficulty sleeping.

In his podcasts and interviews, Huberman discusses an array of supplements that may help optimize your health, including supporting your immune system, improving cognitive performance, reducing stress, and helping balance hormone levels. Similarly, his sleep cocktail, while not a cocktail in the drink sense, is a stack of supplements meant to help improve sleep quality and overall health.

As a well-respected neuroscientist, he recommends supplements that have been backed by research and shown evidence that they may help support better sleep. Unlike sleep medications, these supplements are non-addictive and, therefore, may be easily included in a sleep routine with lower risk.

Additionally, these supplements may go beyond supporting healthy sleep by possibly also positively impacting other aspects of your health, such as immunity, mental health, and cognition.

As sleep disturbances are a common issue, many people are looking to sleep cocktails as an alternative to traditional medications. They may be beneficial for those wanting to improve sleep onset and quality, as well as those who have more consistent sleep issues. According to Huberman's research, his sleep cocktail includes a combination of supplements that may improve sleep by reducing stress and anxiety and supporting calm and restful sleep.

Andrew Huberman's sleep cocktail

Reducing stress and winding down are key factors in getting a good night's sleep. Huberman’s combination of supplements aims to achieve that by using a mixture of compounds that individually have the potential to support sleep. When added together, they may also work to enhance effects like falling asleep faster and getting a deeper sleep, too.

Huberman includes the following supplements in his sleep cocktail:

  • Magnesium threonate or magnesium bisglycinate daily
  • Apigenin daily
  • Theanine daily
  • Glycine every 3rd or 4th night
  • GABA every 3rd or 4th night
  • Myo-inositol every 3rd night or when woken mid-sleep

Magnesium: threonate and bisglycinate

There are two forms of magnesium that Huberman recommends for sleep — magnesium L-threonate or magnesium bisglycinate. While both magnesium salts may help with sleep, they are proposed to work in slightly different ways.

Magnesium threonate is different from other magnesium forms because it is reported to easily cross the blood-brain barrier, helping it reach the central nervous system. It may work by activating the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) signaling, which, in turn, blocks the signaling of excitatory molecules like glutamate, promoting relaxation and feelings of calmness.

Magnesium bisglycinate (or magnesium glycinate), on the other hand, is a chelated form of magnesium, which, once administered, is a supply of both elemental magnesium and glycine. This compound is believed to contribute to improved sleep by the bioactivity of glycine, the amino acid it’s attached to. Glycine stimulates the secretion of serotonin (the 'feel-good' brain chemical), may lower our body temperature, and help make melatonin, a key hormone in helping us feel tired and fall asleep. It is also able to cross the blood-brain barrier, though not as readily as magnesium threonate.

However, it is important to keep in mind that excessive magnesium intake can lead to toxicity. Therefore, magnesium supplementation is typically only recommended to individuals with magnesium deficiency. Before starting any magnesium supplement, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure that additional magnesium intake is suitable for you.

Apigenin

Apigenin is a flavone abundant in chamomiles and can be found in many common fruits and vegetables, also in supplement form. Chamomile is known for its calming and sedating effects and has long been used to promote relaxation and to help combat insomnia.

Apigenin is linked to improving different health conditions such as anxiety, inflammation, and oxidative stress and may help support cognition, hormone regulation, and sleep. Additionally, it can help neutralize free radicals and may have anti-inflammatory properties supporting overall health.

Most clinical research studies use chamomile extract, which includes 0.8–1.2% of bioactive apigenin. While more clinical studies are needed to further investigate its effects, some preliminary research has found that chamomile extracts may improve daily function in patients with insomnia and reduce feelings of depression and anxiety, which at times can be connected to sleep quality.

L-theanine

This naturally occurring amino acid is found in many teas, including green, black, and oolong. It’s been traditionally used to help reduce stress and anxiety and proposed to lower stress-related blood pressure. These mechanisms of action have also been considered to help with sleep and insomnia.

L-theanine is reported to affect alpha wave activity — that’s the brain wave most active when the brain is in a state of wakeful relaxation, like when sitting with your eyes closed. This can have benefits on both mental state and sleep patterns. A 2019 study involving 30 healthy adults found that those who took L-theanine daily for four weeks had improved sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep), better daily function, fewer sleep disturbances, and didn’t use sleep medications as often compared to those in the control group. They also had improved anxiety and stress symptoms and increased cognitive function.

One thing to keep in mind about L-theanine is that it has been linked to increasing or causing vivid dreams, nightmares, and sleepwalking. Humberman suggests not using L-theanine if you are at risk for or have started experiencing any of these.

Huberman’s sleep cocktail bonuses

In addition to the standard sleep cocktail he takes daily, Huberman adds three additional supplements to his routine a few days a week. These are glycine, GABA, and myo-inositol.

Glycine is an amino acid and neurotransmitter that may have both a stimulating and relaxing effect on the brain. NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptor signaling pathways are involved in regulating arousal and sleep-wake cycles. Glycine is believed to help improve sleep by modulating the NMDA receptor function in certain brain regions, thus modulating the signaling of glutamate, one of the main excitatory neurotransmitters. Huberman recommends taking glycine every 3rd or 4th night.

As mentioned above, GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that may promote feelings of relaxation and calm. As decreased levels of GABA signaling are reported to result in feelings of stress and anxiety, increasing GABA levels are proposed to be linked to improved sleep quality and lowered stress hormone levels. Similarly to glycine, Huberman takes GABA supplements every 3rd or 4th night.

Myo-inositol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that has been proposed to be beneficial in a variety of health conditions, including polycystic ovary syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and even supporting mental health. Huberman reports taking myo-inositol on the nights he’s not taking glycine and GABA, as, according to him, it may help you fall back asleep faster if you wake during the night. However, currently, there are limited studies investigating the effects of inositol supplementation to improve sleep patterns and quality.

In his podcasts, Huberman mentions that you can take these three supplements on their own if the others in the standard stack don’t work well for you; however, it is important to keep in mind that most of these supplements have limited clinical research to back their sleep support claims.

Side effects of the cocktail

While there are no serious adverse events related to taking supplements from Huberman’s cocktail in safe doses, there are some side effects to be aware of:

  • Magnesium supplementation can cause gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea in excessive amounts
  • As mentioned already, L-theanine may cause disturbing dreams and sleepwalking
  • Apigenin, when taken in high doses, can lead to sedation or extreme fatigue

The biggest challenge with side effects in supplements is that just because they are non-reported doesn’t mean there isn’t a risk. Additionally, stacking multiple supplements can lead to compound interactions or interactions with medicines you are currently taking, thus increasing the risk of adverse effects. Therefore, while none of these supplements individually have been reported to cause serious health issues, it’s extremely important to talk to your doctor before starting and stacking any new supplements.

Lifestyle tips for better sleep

In addition to adding the sleep cocktail to your nightly routine, Huberman has some other lifestyle suggestions for improving sleep quality:

  • Be sure to get 2–10 minutes of natural light in the morning. Even if the sun isn’t out, getting natural light into your eyes within 30 minutes of waking up helps maintain your sleep cycle.
  • Don’t drink caffeine past 2 in the afternoon. Caffeine reduces adenosine signaling, which contributes to making us feel tired, so being sure not to drink caffeinated drinks too close to bedtime will ensure adenosine can do its job.
  • Keep your bedroom cool. Cooler temperatures can help trigger sleep, so be sure to turn down the heat.
  • Eat more carbs at dinner. Carbohydrates (bread, pasta, and rice) contribute to releasing tryptophan, which supports sleep.
  • Watch the setting sun. This will send another trigger to your brain that night is coming and it’s time to wind down.

Huberman's sleep cocktail alternatives

While Huberman’s sleep cocktail is evidence-based and seems promising, there are other natural supplements that are reported to help support better sleep.

Valerian root

This flowering plant has been used as a sleep aid in Europe for decades. While clinical research around valerian root extract effects has differing methods, some studies report an improvement in sleep quality. Valerian can be taken as a tea or a condensed extract mixed with water or juice.

Kava

The earthy beverage is traditionally drunk in the Pacific Islands and has long been celebrated for promoting calm and relaxation. Recently, researchers have considered if it may be an alternative to some medication administered to reduce anxiety symptoms and reported that it may also be associated with improved sleep in individuals with anxiety-related sleep disorders. Drinking kava tea is the most popular way to consume this botanical as opposed to taking supplements or extracts.

Marine polyphenols

A new botanical compound to the sleep world, marine polyphenols found in brown algae — phlorotannins — are reported to have hypnotic and sedative effects. Recent but limited research studies have investigated their benefits in both clinical and experimental laboratory settings and reported that these compounds may work through the GABA system and may support relaxation and better sleep.

As interest in improving sleep continues to grow, sleep cocktails like Dr. Huberman’s are emerging as potentially beneficial options. While his science-backed blend of sleep supplements provides confidence for those looking to improve sleep quality and combat insomnia, it is important to remember that what works for him might not be suitable and beneficial for everyone. Despite the fact that some of these supplements are individually researched, there is limited information on their safety when stacked together with other supplements or medications. Therefore, it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting and combining any new supplements.

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Comments

Josh
prefix 10 months ago
Above you write in billet points:
" Magnesium Threonate (300–400 mg) or Magnesium Bisglycinate (200 mg) daily "
and then in paragraph text you write
"The recommended daily doses for each form of Magnesium are 300–400 mg and 200 mg, respectively."

I assume you are instructing we take one of the other, not both? For me this isn't clear.
Mariam Hakhyan
prefix 7 months ago
Hello, Josh.

We appreciate your interest in Healthnews.

The Magnesium doses for daily consumption are that of what Andrew Huberman is taking. However, keep in mind that these two forms should not be taken together. We do not give dosage or supplement recommendations or medical advice. Hence, before consuming any product, consult with your doctor.
Dave
prefix 1 year ago
Hello,
I’m a 67 year old male and a veteran. i’ve had a long term sleep disorder, which has only been treated with clonazepam through the VA. I feel at this time I need an alternative and I’m open to psilocybin or some other similar treatment. I am open to a clinical trial.
Mariam Hakhyan
prefix 5 months ago
The content of Healthnews website is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider regarding your health or a medical condition.