I'd like to know everyone's experiences with sleep enhancing substances. Sleep is so critical for health, in particular slow wave sleep is very important for hormone regulation, repair of tissues, memory consolidation (REM also important here), and arguably longevity etcetera, etcetera... The focus of this thread is Sleep Enhancers not Sleep Aids. Many things will get you to sleep but fewer things actually preserve or enhance natural sleep architecture.
Yes there is information about sleep enhancers scattered throughout this site and yes I could resurrect some old thread but there is no real "one stop shop" catch all thread that includes herbs, drugs, hormones and everything else that enhances sleep.
Personally, a good night sleep makes a dramatic difference in the way I function. It has always been a challenge for me to get a good night's sleep and thus daytime sleepiness has been a burden.
Things I have actually tried and my thoughts and selected info on them: ************************
Melantonin: Alright for enhancing sleep though by itself dosen't do the job (I have and will continue to take melantonin on a nightly basis because I am convinced of its health and longevity promoting properties)
Lunesta (Ezopiclone, USA), Imovane (Zopiclone, outside USA): Works very well, 5 hour half life which is perfect for sleep (I found no tolerance even after long term use) and in sleep studies it preserves natural sleep architecture. However it seemed to mess with my memory. http://www.biopsychi.../zopiclone.html
Valerian: Great for about two weeks then it stops working unless you escalate the dose.
GABA: Some benefit but not enough of it crosses the blood brain barrier to be effective IMO.
GHB (Xyrem by prescription): Ehh, ok for a little while, supposedly compresses total sleep time, enhances slow wave sleep but not a long term solution unless you have narcolepsy and nothing else works.
Trazodone (Desyrel): Antidepressant that is very good and effective for sleep (sleep architecture is reasonably preserved with some decrease in REM) but tends to leave one tired all morning and makes is very hard to wake up. Maybe with a shorter half life it would be good but not as is.
Diphenhydramine (Benedryl) and other Antihistimines: Well what can I say, they will make you sleep but definitely will not preserve or enhance sleep architecture. These are definitely sleep aids not sleep enhancers. Probably not a good idea in the long term, for health, longevity etc.
5htp/ Tryptophan: Not bad for getting to sleep but for those of us taking other serontonin enhancing drugs probably not a good idea. Also of note is the fact that serotonin is actually a daytime hormone and its only when it converts to melantonin that the sleep enhancing effects are apparent so in my opinion why not just take more melantonin rather than these.
Things I am interested in and considering: ************************
Gabapentin (Neurontin): Signifigantly enhances slow wave sleep, reduces stage 1 sleep dramatically (this is a good thing, Stage 1 is the barely falling asleep stage), and only shortens REM a little bit (maybe a good thing). There have been some posts on this site about this drug being very effective for sleep. Gabapentin was originally marked as an anti-seizure medication but like almost all of the anti-seizure meds it has been used as a mood stabilizer for bipolar depression. It was so flexible a substance that it became over marketed for off label use sadly tainting its reputation. But of all the anti-seizure meds it appears to have the best profile for a sleep enhancer. 6 hour half life which is pretty good for sleep. http://download.jour...45702002174.pdf
Ambien CR: Yes its a mainstream popular drug but it seems very positive. Enhances slow wave sleep, reduces stage 1 sleep dramatically and again also only shortens REM a little bit. Apparently has no side effects on memory unlike Zopiclone/Ezopiclone. The CR version extends the blood levels to closely mimic a sleep enhancer with a half life of 5 to 6 hours again ideal for a sleep enhancer. http://www.biopsychi...olpidemcomp.htm
Rozerem (Ramelteon): Very interesting, supposedly enhances the sensitivity of Melantonin receptors, perhaps if taken along with melantonin it might be excellent. I hate their commercials but that aside it looks very promising, I'd be curious to see the results from someone who has tried other sleep enhancers.
Things I am NOT interested in trying: ************************
Phenibut: From what I have read its a dead end unless you use it only a couple of times a week. Tolerance develops very fast and can lead to a very negative situation.
The Sleep Machine: This was mentioned in either food, diet and exercise or Nootropics. Basically its a machine that using magnetic fields sends one directly to slow wave sleep and supposedly one can sleep only 4 hours a night instead of 8. To me it sounds like the results are similar to GHB/Xyrem i.e. only worth considering if you have narcolepsy or if for some reason you need to function on reduced sleep for a period of time.
Note: I take Ashwagandha and Bacopa at night as they tend to make me sleepy and Ash seems to help with recovery from exercise but I don't consider either effective sleep enhancers.
Edited by edward, 22 May 2007 - 01:49 PM.