Welcome to our new mini blog series, looking at the best Nootropics for 2020.
In this article, we are looking at our Top 3 picks for the stress, relaxation and sleep category of Nootropics.
Why is optimising stress, relaxation and sleep important?
- We are a chronically stressed society, with high demands placed on us all the time
- We find it difficult to wind down after a hard day at work
- Our sleep quality is impacted greatly by our stress levels and negative lifestyle habits
- In order to perform high quality, cognitively demanding tasks, we need to give our brain time to "rest and recharge"
- High stress levels can reduce immunity, making it easier to fall physically ill
- High stress and its impact on the HPA axis can reduce testosterone or sex hormone levels
Our top 3 picks for nootropics to improve stress, relaxation and sleep:
1. L-Theanine (200mg-400mg)
L-Theanine is an amino acid found naturally in green tea, although at quantities not high enough to produce its most desired effect.
At clinical doses, it has been shown to promote calm without sedation. The most common dose used is 200mg of L-Theanine.
It exerts its calming effect primarily by:
- Binding to glutamate receptors and inhibiting glutamate from exerting its effect
- Promoting levels of calming, inhibitory neurotransmitters such as GABA and serotonin
- Promoting alpha brain wave frequencies, associated the deep meditative states
Theanine can be used during the day to promote feelings of calm and reducing stress, particularly later in the day when you're looking to wind down or get ready for bed.
A study of 34 healthy adults who consumed a beverage containing 200mg of L-Theanine showed that subjective stress response was significantly reduced one hour post-dose and cortisol response was significantly reduced three hours post-dose.
Not only this, but L-Theanine is commonly paired with stimulants such as Caffeine to help "take the edge off" and actually promote greater cognition and attention.
For example, pairing L-Theanine with Caffeine, especially in a 2:1 ratio, has been shown to increase attention and performance whilst decreasing the negative side effects (jitters, irritability, anxiety) associated with caffeine alone.
A study of 27 participants, taking 50mg of Caffeine with 100mg of L-Theanine showed an increase in both speed and accuracy of performance in an attention-switching task as well as reducing susceptibility to distracting information in a memory task.
L-Theanine & Caffeine Combination studies:
2. Sensoril Ashwagandha (125-250mg)
Sensoril is a patented extract of Ashwagandha or whats known as the Withania Somnifera plant. It's also commonly known as Indian ginseng.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb. An adaptogen is a compound which can be used to help attenuate or support the stress response in humans.
Ashwagandha has many constituent compounds which contribute to its potent effects, including withanolides.
Ashwagandha has many different properties and mechanisms of action, including:
- Reducing the stress response by reducing cortisol
- Reducing inflammation
- Improving testosterone and sex hormone production
- Supporting production of inhibitory neurotransmitters such as GABA leading to feelings of calm
Sensoril, in particular is standardized to 10% withanolides, whilst most other extracts of Ashwagandha are standardized to just 2.5% withanolides.
Sensoril is a very potent extract of Ashwagandha, having very calming anti-stress effects and even promoting better sleep.
Sensoril has been the subject of over 10, placebo controlled, clinical trials to prove its efficacy. Sensoril works best at a starting dose of 125mg, with doses going up to 250mg and even 500mg.
One of the studies done on Sensoril Ashwagandha, showed that daily consumption of Sensoril at 125mg or 250mg reduced experiential feelings of stress and anxiety, serum concentrations of cortisol and CRP, pulse rate and blood pressure and increased serum concentration of DHEAS in chronically stressed adults.
3. Magnesium Glycinate (Up to 400mg)
Magnesium is an essential mineral used by over 300 chemical processes within the human body.
Everything from helping muscles contract to keeping your immune system strong and healthy.
Magnesium can be found in many foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains beans and fish.
Many people have been found to be at least partially deficient in this essential mineral. Keep in mind the RDA for it is 420mg for men and 320mg for women. If you're not getting enough from your diet, which you can confirm via a blood test, you should definitely be supplementing with one form or Magnesium!
Magnesium Glycinate, in particular, is a form of Magnesium that is bound to glycine (an amino acid and inhibitory neurotransmitter), and has very high absorption levels in the body.
It has a list of positive effects, including:
- Exerting a calming effect on the brain due to the presence of glycine
- It can help relieve anxiety and promote better sleep
This is the best form of Magnesium if you're looking to promote anti-stress and better sleep and why it takes spot #3 for today.
Other forms of Magnesium are known to give an upset stomach or diarheaa more easily (not ideal). This can also occur if you take too much at once or too frequently, so watch out. You've been warned.