There is a complex interrelationship between mood and sleep. Depression, anxiety or stress can interfere with healthy sleep, and alternatively, poor sleep cycles make consumers more vulnerable to problems with mood, stress and anxiety.
Emotional stress can lead to restless, sleepless nights and difficult, anxiety-filled days. Whether it’s the kids, issues at work, a tough break up or a more prolonged struggle with depression or anxiety, emotions and stress levels can throw sleep off kilter. Typically, if a person is experiencing issues with mood, stress or anxiety, sleep is affected, and the person fails to function optimally—and vice versa.
Health professionals and consumers are increasingly looking for supplements with proven safety and efficacy that lack significant side effects to support healthy sleep and mood. There are many compelling ingredients that can address mood, anxiety and stress that also naturally align the body with healthy sleep patterns.
Phenibut is an amino acid, related to the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), most commonly used for boosting mood, reducing feelings of stress and promoting healthy sleep. Phenibut interacts with the body in a similar way as alcohol, which works by binding to GABA receptors. The Phenibut molecule is thought to be a key to unlocking GABA receptors in the brain. The body’s own key to unlocking receptors is called GABA, and when the GABA receptors are unlocked, the brain has a reduced response to signals from the central nervous system. This is what creates the effects of relaxation, social ease, pain relief and drowsiness when the body produces GABA.1
5-Hydroxytryptophan—commonly known as 5-HTP—is a compound made naturally in the body. It is produced as a supplement from the seeds of a plant, Griffonia simplicfolia, native to West Africa. This compound has effects on both sleep and mood.
5-HTP is converted in the brain to serotonin, an important initiator of sleep. One of the key benefits of 5-HTP is its ability to increase REM sleep by up to 25 percent, while increasing deep sleep stages three and four.2
One important way serotonin affects sleep is through its relationship with melatonin, a hormone critical for sleep. Melatonin is made from serotonin and helps the body’s biological clock stay in sync and regulates sleep/wake cycles. A strong internal body clock and regular sleep/wake cycles are key to restful, rejuvenating sleep. Research also suggests .5-HTP may help shorten the time it takes to fall asleep and increase sleep amounts at night.3
During waking hours, 5-HTP has been shown to promote relaxation, and alleviate stress and anxiety.4 Research has demonstrated 5-HTP may reduce the risks of panic attacks, as well as anxiety and emotional stress. Research also indicates 5-HTP may be effective in helping to alleviate depression.
Melatonin, released by the pineal gland, increases 10-fold as night falls to prepare the brain for rest and sleep. The pineal gland is directly connected to the optic nerves; it is in direct contact with light. That’s why melatonin is referred to as the hormone that regulates the wake/sleep cycle and the body clock, also referred to as circadian rhythm.5 In the daytime, when exposed to sunlight, melatonin levels are then suppressed, promoting alertness.
Valerian is an herb that may help improve sleep, promote relaxation and reduce anxiety.6 It contains a number of compounds, including valerenic acid, isovaleric acid and a variety of antioxidants. Valerian interacts with GABA. Low GABA levels related to acute and chronic stress are linked to anxiety and low-quality sleep. Valerenic acid has been found to inhibit the breakdown of GABA in the brain, resulting in calmness and tranquility.
Valerian root also contains the antioxidants hesperidin and linarin, which have sleep-enhancing properties. These compounds may inhibit excessive activity in the amygdala, an area of the brain that processes fear and strong emotional responses to stress. Research suggests taking valerian root may reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, as well as improve sleep quality and quantity.7
Taurine is an amino acid derivative that reduces cortisol levels and increases the production of GABA, a major inhibitory neurotransmitter that is the body’s natural “off” switch. Taurine plays a key role in neurotransmitter regulation, helping to calm and stabilize the nervous system. Taurine levels are very concentrated in the brain. Because of its ability to generate nerve impulses, stabilize nerve cell membranes and prevent erratic firing of nerve cells, taurine helps calm stress and anxiety.
Jack Grogan is Chief Science Officer for Uckele Health & Nutrition (uckele.com). He is a recognized expert in Hair Mineral Analysis, a valuable tool in determining the causes of nutritional imbalances or deficiencies. With considerable experience in the fields of biology, biochemistry and nutrition, he has been
- Izyaslav Lapin. “Phenibut (β‐Phenyl‐GABA): A Tranquilizer and Nootropic Drug.” Wiley’s Online Library. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1527-3458.2001.tb00211.x
- Wyatt, RJ et al. “Effects of 5-hydroxytryptophan on the sleep of normal human subjects.” Electroencephalogr Clin Neurophysiol. 30(6):505-509.
- HE Yan-long et al. Sleep Research Laboratory, Anhui Medical University, Hefei 230032,China; The effects and mechanism of injecting substance Pinto lateral cerebral ventricle on sleep-wakefulness cycle of rats[J];Chinese Pharmacological Bulletin;2004-11
- Kahn, Renee S. et al. “L-5-Hydroxytryptophan in the treatment of anxiety disorders.” J Affect Disord. 8(2):197-200.
- Laura Redwine, et al. “Effects of Sleep and Sleep Deprivation on Interleukin-6, Growth Hormone, Cortisol, and Melatonin Levels in Humans.”J Clin Endocrinol. 2000;85(10):3597-3603.
- Meyerhoff D, JMon, AMetzler T, Neylan TC. “Cortical gamma-aminobutyric acid and glutamate in posttraumatic stress disorder and their relationships to self-reported sleep quality.” May 2014;137(5):893-900. doi: 10.5665/sleep.3654.
- Houghton PJ. “The scientific basis for the reputed activity of Valerian.” J Pharm Pharmacol.May 1999;51(5):505-12.