To take or not to take supplements? That’s the question. My answer? Supplements support sleep success! Plus other ideas that have been helpful for me. Read more about the best sleep aid supplements.
Supplements Support My Sleep Success
My relationship with supplements has ebbed and flowed greatly over the last 45 years, starting at a young age. I’ve gone back and forth on my belief in them, to be honest, but it wasn’t until I hit horrible sleep as I approached 40 that I considered them again. And it was then that I finally found success. Here’s my story on how supplements support my sleep success.
My relationship with supplements at an early age
As a child, my mother was very into taking supplements. But back then, we just called them vitamins. I remember her mentioning echinacea and MSM as a child and having no idea what she was talking about or why she was taking them. So she explained. And I’m pretty sure I took the occasional echinacea, and possibly others as time went on. Obviously I trusted her, but thinking forward, I now know that supplements are an individual thing—they are by no means a one-size-fits-all scenario!
Why I stopped taking supplements for a while
In 2011, I started working with a big food blog, which opened my eyes tremendously to what I was eating and how I was treating my body. Why was it that I was constantly snacking on Wheat Thins? Did Jif Peanut Butter really need to be a daily staple for me, or could I find a better option? These were just some of the areas that I needed to clean up.
In addition, Lisa’s (100daysofrealfood.com) viewpoint on supplements perplexed me. Shouldn’t we all be getting our nutrients from food that we eat? If I cleaned up my diet, would this do the trick? I decided to give it a try. I stopped all supplements. I turned my back on protein bars that, while they contained added nutrients, also contained numerous processed foods, too. In actuality, I went cold turkey. And initially I was fine. I tried eating a whole foods diet, for a while I even tried being vegetarian. I cut out gluten (which was amazing for me), but as time went on, I found myself getting colds and sicknesses—more than anyone else in my family. But it was my disrupted sleep and dangerously low Vitamin D (and iron, for that matter) that really made me rethink my actions.
Why I now believe that supplements have a place for most individuals
I started to question my decision. Was I wrong to think that I could get it all from foods? That I didn’t need a supplement to do just that—supplement my food choices? Because what was the actual variety of fruits and vegetables that I was getting on a daily basis? I realized that it may not be enough. Even for those who try to eat a whole foods diet, the majority of us still don’t get enough fruits and vegetables to suffice for our daily nutrient needs. I reached out to The New Hope Network, and these thoughts were confirmed:
“Even the healthiest diet has gaps,” says Erin Stokes, ND, medical director at MegaFood. “That is because of our stressful lifestyles, modern food supply, soil degradation and depletion. Food doesn’t have the same amount of vitamins it once did. Millions of Americans have nutrient deficiencies.”
Supplements are called “supplements” for a reason. They are meant to support or complement the other pillars of a healthy lifestyle, which include a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, exercising and tools to manage stress as best as possible.
When I originally wrote this, I was approaching 40, I had 4 kids within 7 years, and I would wake up for 2 hours during the night 2-3 times each week. I was miserable. My stress was at a maximum. Working, trying to raise my kids, including nursing all of them for over a year, and getting interrupted sleep, was making me anything but desirable to be around. My Vitamin D hit dangerously low levels, once being at 12. My doctor immediately put me on a prescription dose to get my numbers higher, after which she strongly suggested OTC Vitamin D for an ongoing basis. I obliged, but my sleep still wasn’t right.
Supplements are an individual thing
Three years ago, I sought the help of a naturopath and left with a bunch of supplements that she deemed right for me. And wouldn’t you know, they immediately helped my sleep, and other areas, too. What I learned is that each person has different needs, based on their age, ethnicity, location, their diet, and also health conditions that they may be susceptible to. Prior to seeking the advice of this naturopath, I was blindly selecting a multivitamin and going with it —and not seeing the results that I was seeking.
I now know that resources are available. Talk with a doctor, do supplementary (pardon the pun) research, and find out what are the best products for you. It may take some trial in error—as a matter of fact, I now see a doctor who I also work with to determine what my needs are as we keep me on the path to health. I’ve done specific testing which has helped us determine exactly which supplements are best for me.
Supplements that I now take daily
Flash forward to today and, together with my doctor, there are supplements that I take on an ongoing basis that I’m happy to share with you below:
- Vitamin D—as explained to me, this is one that we ALL need to supplement with. And with my history of low levels, I’m sure I’ll be on this for a while.
- Adaptogens—to support taxed adrenals (hello 4 kids, a household and work)
- Silymarin—my liver doesn’t detoxify as needed, so this is extremely helpful
- Methylated B 12—I have a MTHFR gene mutation, and therefore I don’t process vitamin b that is not methylated. Methycobalamin is a good work-around.
- Magnesium—very helpful for sleep
- Probiotics—for a healthy gut
- Gallbladder support—mine also does not work up to optimal levels, so this is extremely helpful
My sleep aid supplements
- Magnesium—not only is this good for relaxation, it’s also good for constipation, or even just to keep things moving. I take this nightly right before bed.
- GABA—I had my neurotransmitters tested by Dr. Carlos Jorge and the test revealed that my levels were off. For this reason, he prescribed GABA at night, which for me personally, is very calming.
- 5HTP—taking 5htp in conjunction with GABA was something recommended to me by Dr. Jorge, too. I was having severe fear of heights and also anxiety when driving, so I take these two together. They seem to be very relaxing and helpful for sleep for me.
My success, not only with sleep, but with detoxifying, helping my gut (in more ways than one) and overall feeling good has made me a believer. Though it took a long road to get here, I know that supplements will be a part of my life forever. I’m thankful for them and the way that my health has improved.
What are your thoughts on the topic? I’d love to hear in the comments below.