Andrew Huberman’s Top Sleep Supplements
This article is a continuation in a series of what I call “Cliff Notes” for Andrew Huberman’s long-form discussions on various health topics. A recent article I wrote on his recommendations for increasing testosterone has blown up (clearly, a lot of people are looking into HRT these days), so I figured the next topic I’d tackle is one that pertains to us all: sleep. Huberman studies the brain & works in tandem with professionals such as sleep expert Matthew Walker, & they agree: sleep affects everything in our bodies. I’ll list the most important practical take-aways from these discussions, including “Andrew Huberman’s Top Sleep Supplements.”
“Sleep is the foundation of mental health, physical health, & performance of all kinds: cognitive performance, physical performance, etc. It also controls things like our immune system, wound healing, our skin health & appearance.”
– Dr. Andrew Huberman
Andrew Huberman Full Video on Sleep
This article is meant to be like “Cliff Notes,” so I’m keeping things fairly brief as regards to mechanisms & why things work the way they do. Every recommendation in here can be fact-checked by listening to Andrew Huberman’s words directly in the video below, where he goes into great detail about natural ways to improve sleep, as well as supplements that can assist with it.
Huberman’s Specific Recommendations:
Huberman says that you may take one of the supplements below ~ or all three, or none. If you’re having trouble sleeping (or staying asleep), he recommends trying one, & if it works: stop there. If not, add another & see how that goes. For most people, the amounts below are very safe & have few contraindications.
**L-Theanine may cause very vivid dreams or for a small percentage, even night terrors ~ so if that is the case for you, avoid it.
- Magnesium L-Threonate or Glycinate = 200-400 mg, 2-3 hours before sleep: The reason Huberman likes Magnesium L-Threonate so much is because it’s one of the only forms of magnesium that crosses the blood-brain barrier ~ instead of solely being absorbed by the gut. This form of magnesium allows for an enhanced feeling of relaxation in the mind, due to its unique ability to reach the brain.
- L-Theanine = 200-400 mg: This is one of my personal favorite supplements ~ I’ve written about it before in an article about reducing anxiety. And it’s one of Huberman’s “Top 3” sleep supplements: it really helps “take the edge off.” But it doesn’t knock you out in the way that melatonin can.
- Apigenin = 50 mg: Derived from chamomile, this phytonutrient not only provides nutrition while you sleep ~ but it has relaxation & anti-anxiety properties that can greatly assist in promoting better sleep.
Why Isn’t Melatonin Part of this Sleep Cocktail?
I wondered this myself, as melatonin has long been a popular sleep aid. The main reason that Andrew Huberman does NOT recommend taking melatonin is that, typical amounts on the market (usually 3-10mg per pill) are WAY too large, in his opinion. Melatonin is a HORMONE, & when we play with adding excessive amounts of it: we can actually affect other hormones in our body, including estrogen & testosterone. He says there’s no need to do this, when other supplements exist that are far gentler & less problematic than melatonin.
Plus, if you’re getting proper sunlight cues (which I get into below), your body will create its optimal amount of melatonin naturally.
***Author’s Note: I stopped taking melatonin years ago, long before I found Huberman’s sleep episode: I was noticing a “hangover” effect from it. Meaning, the next day I often felt groggy & had trouble waking up. For some people, even 3mg of melatonin is too much ~ & I believe this is what Huberman is speaking to: it’s just too much of a good thing.
How to Naturally Improve Sleep
- TIP: Within 30 minutes of waking, GO OUTSIDE & be in sunlight for 2-10 minutes. LIGHT is one of the main mechanisms, he says, by which we control our sleep: & viewing it first thing in the morning is a way of telling our bodies to “wake up” & release cortisol (adrenaline), which gets you up & going;
- FACT: The things that most affect your circadian rhythms, & thus sleep, are: 1) LIGHT, 2) TEMPERATURE, 3) EXERCISE, 4) FOOD/WHEN YOU EAT, & 5) SOCIAL ACTIVITY;
- TIP: Keep your bedroom as COLD & DARK as possible ~ both temperature & light affect how you sleep & how well you sleep;
- TIP: Avoid caffeine after 2PM to truly optimize sleep;
- FACT: Alcohol & THC (marijuana) may help you fall asleep ~ but the science shows that they actually disrupt your sleep & make it difficult to sleep deeply for the entire night;
- TIP: Around sunset time, try to get outside & view the setting sun: this signals to your brain that it’s evening time/getting closer to sleep. The neurons in your eyes actually communicate with your brain/circadian rhythm ~ so these simple, visual cues can make a big difference in both elevating cortisol in the morning, & then elevating melatonin in the evening: which is what you want.
- TIP: AVOID bright lights from 11PM-4AM, & dim the lights as much as possible at night; Huberman says that if you’re viewing screens at night (TV’s, phones, etc.) turn the light(s) on your device as dim as possible to minimize impact on sleep.
Andrew Huberman’s Top Sleep Supplements
I hope this article has been helpful, whether you’re a fan of Andrew Huberman’s or not. It’s empowering to know there are simple things we can do throughout the day to keep our circadian rhythms in sync, as well as inexpensive supplements we can take that greatly assist in improving our sleep.
Read Next: Can L-Theanine Help with Anxiety?