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March 17, 2022
The 3 Worst Things to Take Before Bed (supplement with this instead)
Every doctor gives the same tip: “Get more sleep.”
Every advice column tells you the same.
So does your neighbor, and your well-rested best friend who magically goes through life without dark circles under her eyes.
By now, you know the drill. Getting enough sleep is important. But how do you actually do that? And why is it so tough to know what to do if you can’t sleep?
Here’s the trick: It’s not just about sleeping more, it’s about sleeping better. It’s about getting the quality of rest and deep sleep your body needs to repair your cells and restore your energy. It’s about waking up feeling vibrant and optimistic rather than begging your alarm for a few more precious seconds of dozing. And the trick to that kind of sleep is knowing which ingredients can help you get there.
So, let’s compare the best sleep products out there to the ones you’re better off doing without.
But first, let’s dig into WHY sleep is such a hurdle…
The Steep Decline of Sleep Quality with Age
Did you know that the quality of your sleep actually worsens with age?
It’s true—and it’s scientifically proven, too.
The older you get, the more likely you are to toss and turn at night, wake up to go to the bathroom, or get fewer than 7 hours of sleep. This is because, as you age, important sleep hormones like melatonin start to decline. And when melatonin declines, your body’s internal clock (i.e. your circadian rhythm) gets disrupted (1, 2).
This is the vicious cycle of sleep worsening with age.
Whatsmore, if you’re a woman going through perimenopause, menopause, or postmenopause, you’re even more likely to develop a sleep disorder (thanks to common menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, making it harder to get comfortable at night) (3, 4).
So, what can you do if you can’t sleep, no matter how hard you try?
The Answer: Seek out top-notch sleep products that can help…
3 Things That End Up Harming Your Sleep (Avoid These Before Bed)
After doing a group poll in our Private Facebook Group, we were surprised to learn that there were 3 non-sleep products that people took to help them fall asleep at night.
And maybe you’re one of the people who take these…
If you are, we strongly recommend that you cut them out of your bedtime routine—immediately—and replace them with 5 natural sleep-enhancing ingredients instead (more on that later in the article)...
1. Antihistamines (like Benadryl or Zyrtec)
Drug store shelves are packed with over-the-counter sleep aids, many of which are antihistamines. Antihistamines are mainly used in allergy medication but are also branded separately as sleep aids for exhausted consumers wondering how to fall asleep fast.
This is because antihistamines block your body from producing extra histamine—a chemical that helps rid your body of allergens—one that also conveniently helps regulate your body’s wakefulness (5). When antihistamines are used as sleep aids, the resulting drowsiness becomes a perk rather than an unwanted side effect.
The reality, though, is that antihistamines are not generally recommended for long-term sleep use, and haven’t been found to be especially effective (6).
One downside is that you can very quickly develop a tolerance to antihistamines’ sleep-inducing effects (7)...
While they may work great the first time you try them, you’ll soon find yourself feeling less and less of their sedative effect. At the same time, antihistamines can linger in your body longer than the time it takes to simply get some rest. That makes for a groggy, hangover-like feeling the next morning (8).
There are also some potentially harmful effects when antihistamines are used long-term: Some antihistamines are anticholinergic. This means they inhibit acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter that plays an important role in memory and optimal brain function.
A 2015 study found that participants over 65 who regularly took anticholinergic medications for more than 3 years were at a higher risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (9). The risk was found to continue increasing over time with continued use of the medications.
Antihistamines may be fine for a one-time boost (for example, if you’re hit with jet lag and need to fall asleep quickly one night) but they are not your friends for long-term, healthy sleep.
2. Acetaminophen (like Tylenol PM)
Some insomnia sufferers try to step up antihistamine sleep aids by taking a medication that combines antihistamines with over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen. This is often fueled by a belief that if aches and pains are reduced, you might sleep better. While pain can certainly interrupt sleep, relying on acetaminophen every night comes with its own set of risks.
Taking acetaminophen occasionally for pain relief is generally safe. However, long-term intake of high quantities is a different story. Frequently taking the maximum daily dose of acetaminophen can lead to serious liver damage, so it’s best not to get into the habit of taking it nightly (10).
Odd as it may seem, you may be relying on caffeine for a good night’s sleep without even knowing it.
Caffeine can be wonderful in moderation, but if you overload on too much caffeine to get through your day, you’ll hit a big crash when that caffeine wears off. Whether you realize it or not, you may have become reliant on that crash to fall asleep, which takes away the control you have over your evening routine.
Research indicates that when caffeine drinkers rely on it to mask exhaustion with an intent to “catch up” on sleep later, they’re more likely to experience lower quality sleep (11). The key is enjoying your coffee early in the day and in moderation.
The 5 Best (Natural) Sleepytime Ingredients to Add to Your Bedtime Ritual
Want to fall asleep fast? Supplement with these 5 science-backed sleep ingredients…
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the body’s circadian rhythm, which is the cycle of the body’s internal clock (12). Melatonin is known as the “sleep hormone” because the small, pea-shaped gland in the brain that produces it (AKA the pineal gland) is known for its positive effects on sleep.
It’s a fan favorite among insomnia sufferers for its calming properties. It works by communicating to your body clock that it’s nighttime, helping to decrease chemicals associated with wakefulness, like dopamine (13, 14).
GABA is short for gamma-aminobutyric acid, an amino acid that operates as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Put simply, GABA decreases activity in your nervous system while easing anxiety and stress.
It’s been linked to a decrease in stress while problem-solving and has been found in small studies to help aid in falling asleep more quickly (15, 16). Not surprisingly, under-rested people are often focused on how to increase GABA naturally because of its strong impact on sleep.
This naturally-occurring mineral in the body is jam-packed with health benefits ranging from enhanced exercise performance to better heart and bone health (17). Among magnesium’s many perks is a better night’s sleep…
Magnesium does this by maintaining your circadian rhythm in addition to regulating GABA and other sleep-related neurotransmitters (18).
Research on adults who supplement with magnesium has found that it may lead to an increase in both sleep quality AND melatonin production. This leads to a lower chance of falling asleep during the daytime and a faster drift into dreamland at night (19).
Unlike many popular sleep ingredients, no amount of L-theanine is naturally produced in the body, so any addition of it to your routine is a bonus.
Studies have found connections between this amino acid and brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and cortisol—all of which have an impact on your mood, happiness, sleep, and stress levels, helping you to get a better snooze (20).
More specifically, L-theanine positively aids in relaxation, falling asleep in less time, and getting the deep-stage sleep that protects against aging (21).
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body—making up 33% of it, in fact. Its what provides strength and support to your bones, joints, skin, gut lining, and more (hence why it’s known as the “glue” that holds your body together) (22).
Without it, you’d be falling apart. Literally!
However, there’s something you may not know about collagen: It helps with sleep, too.
Because collagen is packed with sleep-promoting glycine—an amino acid that calms the central nervous system—many troubled sleepers turn to collagen as an effective sleep aid (23).
The Bottom Line
Sleep may just be the most important thing your body does each day.
It’s what reverses aging, consolidates memories, and boosts mood. Yet an estimated 50 to 70 million Americans aren’t getting enough of it (24).
However, with the above 5 ingredients, you’re well on your way to restorative rest.
Melatonin, GABA, magnesium, L-theanine, and collagen all boast an abundance of natural sleepytime benefits—and they have the science to back it up, too…
So why not combine all 5 of these relaxing, sleep-promoting ingredients into one easy-to-take supplement?
Collagen PM does exactly that…
With 10 grams of collagen, 2 grams of GABA, 200 milligrams of L-theanine, 10 milligrams of magnesium, and 5 milligrams of melatonin, every scoop delivers easier, deeper, and more peaceful sleep.
The best part? When you drink collagen before sleep, you’ll wake up each morning feeling refreshed, revived, and a whole lot more youthful.
As a writer, editor, and wellness seeker, Claire has written for Self, Health, Prevention, CNN, Mic, Livestrong, and Greatist, just to name a few. When she's not writing, she specializes in traveling, getting lost in health-related research rabbit holes, and finding new ways to spoil her cat.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.