My Secret Combination of Little-Known Supplements that Fight Insomnia and Help Sleep

After years and years of experimentation I’ve finally found two supplements that I take together at night that put me to sleep.  I wake up refreshed, relaxed, and they haven’t caused any dependence.  I also have a few other secret weapons in my arsenal if I need to bring out the “big guns.”  Needless to say, I’ve been getting consistent sleep for a long time now.

Listen to the audio or click the video to learn a method I found that puts me to sleep every night.

Download Audio

Topics Discussed:

0:16 – Sneak Peak at All of TJ’s Supplements
0:25 – First Two Supplements to Try
0:45 – What about 5-HTP?
1:13 – When You Wake Up In the Middle of Night
1:22 – Two Minerals to Help you Sleep
1:49 – What About Melatonin?
2:02 – Why You Need Darkness for These to Work

I suffered from insomnia for many years. To most people, saying “I haven’t been sleeping” usually triggers the response, “Go to bed earlier!”  The average person gets sleepy and well, goes to sleep when they haven’t slept.  But when you have depression and suffer from insomnia at the same time (which is amazingly common), it isn’t that easy.

Sometimes when I haven’t slept, it increases my insomnia!  My insomnia creates more and more insomnia, making me depressed, until I get trapped in a cycle of low energy but excruciatingly cannot sleep for the life of me.

Combining the Two Supplements Together

I haven’t seen this combination recommended anywhere. What I personally do is take a Holy Basil (which also goes by the name Tulsi) with either a high quality 5-HTP or L-Tryptophan.  The holy basil calms down the nervous system.  This turns off my thoughts and lets me “wind-down.”  Many people are able to fall asleep taking this little known herb “Tulsi” all by itself.  It shuts off the “fight-or-flight” response when we have too much stress.

Holy Basil

Several studies have shown that certain extractions of holy basil reduces corticosterone.  A reduction in corticosterone reduces the amount of stress on the body.  A lowered level of stress contributed to an improvement in mental clarity and mood. 1

When I take it, I don’t really “feel” anything.  The only thing that happens is I become calmer and my thoughts don’t race as much.  A lot of the battle in falling asleep is when my mind is racing.  Taking Holy Basil curbs the racing mind and allows you to slowly fall asleep.

5-HTP or L-Tryptophan

5-HTP is the precursor to serotonin in the brain.  Your brain uses leftover serotonin to produce melatonin.  This means that if you don’t have any serotonin in your brain left over from the daytime, it probably will be hard to fall asleep.  This is why when you get depressed you paradoxically also do not sleep even though your tired.  Your body isn’t producing the right hormones.  Click here to view a medical summary of studies done on 5-HTP for depression and anxiety.

Taking 5-HTP and Holy Basil was the trick that did it for me.  When I take 5-HTP at night, it puts me in that deep, restful state where I wake up and feel like my body underwent some restoration unlike when I take over the counter medications or Ambien.

I recently ordered some L-Tryptophan to test out it in comparison to 5-HTP.  L-Tryptophan is converted to 5-HTP in the brain.  It is one step further away from the production of serotonin, but many people respond better to L-Tryptophan than 5-HTP.  When I take L-Tryptophan, the sleep appears to be deeper, it takes a little longer for me to wake up in the morning, and it seems to last throughout the next day in comparison to 5-HTP.  It is as if it is still working after I wake up.  If I take it at night the first half of the following day I almost feel as if I am on an antidepressant.  Actually, it almost makes me too calm.

I’d suggest 5-HTP first, then L-Tryptophan if you don’t respond.  Combine it with Holy Basil and you have the recipe for a great night’s sleep.  Make sure that you take L-Tryptophan or 5-HTP on a relatively empty stomach.  If you eat other high protein foods the amino acids will compete with Tryptophan or 5-HTP and you won’t get the desired effect.

The great thing about this combination is not only does it knock you out and you feel well rested, if you forget to take it one night it isn’t the end of the world.  The other day I simply didn’t feel like I needed it.  My sleep wasn’t as restful, but I still slept for a good 7-8 hours.  Yesterday I was extremely calm and ready for sleep, without taking anything, and slept like a baby!  Try and take Ambien every night for a week and see if you can sleep without it!  Not only that, but these supplements help people get off their antidepressants without going through harsh withdrawals.

What About Melatonin?

You may be wondering why I don’t just take melatonin if that is what those amino acids are converting into to anyways.  I don’t take melatonin because it doesn’t work for me.  I have taken it many, many times and it always seems to make me more depressed, not wake up feeling refreshed, or give me weird dreams where I keep waking up all night.

Some people respond well to melatonin, and I’d still suggest you try it, however I have seen several people become dependent on it.  Melatonin seems like it works best for a few days to reset your circadian rhythm, such as when dealing with jet lag, and then you should stop taking it.

The great thing about supplements such as L-Tryptophan is your brain decides how much melatonin to produce.  Actually, if you take L-Tryptophan your body can also use it to produce niacin, another relaxing B-Vitamin.  So taking something like L-Tryptophan lets your brain use it to produce niacin, serotonin, and melatonin naturally and in the right quantities.

Experimentation is key.  I prefer 5-HTP and L-Tryptophan because they calm me down, give me restful sleep, and give me a nice antidepressant effect when I wake up in the morning.

Take Them Together Only When Going to Sleep

Dog Knocked Himself Out with Tryptophan

This Dog Doesn’t Seem to Need the Lights Out For Tryptophan to Work

Whenever you take something like 5-HTP, Holy Basil, Melatonin, etc. make sure you don’t take them until you are going to sleep or are turning the lights off.  Your brain produces the hormones and chemicals that put you to sleep when there is an absence of light.

If you take them and sit up staring at your bright computer screen, they probably won’t work.  As I’m winding down for the night, I take them with some water, lay down on my bed, and listen to some audio or turn on Alan Watts while I wind down in pure darkness. My room isn’t completely dark, so I put on an eye-mask and then earplugs when I know my body is about to go lights out.

I’ve got Holy Basil and 5-HTP/Tryptophan working in my body, my brain thinks it is completely dark, and after I’ve been seduced by the philosophy of Alan Watts the earplugs go in and I can’t hear anything.  Lights out.

If You Wake Up in the Night or Still Can’t Sleep

Valerian Root

Another tool I use is Valerian Root.  I do not know if the capsules work, but I went ahead and got the liquid version.  This is a great supplement to use if you need a little extra power to fall asleep or if you wake up in the middle of the night.  When I was first getting my sleep in order, for some reason I would wake up every night about 4 hours after I had fallen asleep.  I’d walk to the kitchen, put a little Valerian Root in water, go back to bed and fall asleep within a good 10 minutes.

Other nights when I have to go to bed early and I’m just not feeling it, I’ll throw a little Valerian Root in the water I use to gulp down the Holy Basil and 5-HTP/Tryptophan.  I’ve also successfully used Valerian Root to curb my anxiety before events like job interviews.  Make sure you don’t take it everyday, however, as some people can grow tolerant to its effects.

Calcium and Magnesium

If I really have to bring out the big guns, I take a couple calcium tablets with magnesium.  In the past I have actually had success with beating my insomnia using these two alone, and some people say you should be taking these every night regardless of whether or not you have insomnia.  They really help if you just need that extra little support, but I found for serious insomnia they just couldn’t knock me out.

I personally use Natural Calm Magnesium, the unflavored version.  It seems to absorb into the body better than other forms of magnesium.  If you choose to get a different brand, try to get anything that ends in “ate” such as magnesium citrate, carbonate, orotate, etc.  Magnesium oxide doesn’t absorb into the body efficiently.

I’ve had success in the past with popping two Calcium pills and a spoonful of Magnesium mixed with water.  Plus, they are essential minerals your body needs.  Most Americans are deficient in magnesium, so if you haven’t tried it yet, order some high quality magnesium and test it out.

What About Dependency?

After two weeks of using this method, I haven’t come across any sort of issues with dependency.  In fact, I’ve had the reverse effect.  Now that my sleep cycle has been stabilized and have I have serotonin pumping through my brain, some nights I don’t take anything at all and sleep great.  In the case that you find one supplement to stop working, you can always cycle it with another.  If both 5-HTP and Tryptophan work for you, take 5-HTP for a week or two then switch over to Tryptophan for a couple weeks.

Again, I can tell on a day when I am tired enough that I will sleep through the night.  On those days, I don’t take anything, and surprisingly, I still sleep!  One of the main realizations I had was this helped reset my sleep cycle so that I started naturally becoming tired at night with or without the supplements.  The side effect of them helping to defeat my depression carries over into the next day, resulting in a snowball effect of happiness and sleep.  Remember those times when you had a snowball of depression and insomnia?  This combination is the reverse.

Use This Method Now and Sleep Like a Rock!

First, try taking holy basil. Then 5-htp. Then Tryptophan if 5-HTP doesn’t work.  Then incorporate Valerian, especially when you wake up in the middle of the night.  Finally, throw in Magnesium/Calcium for a added firepower or to improve the quality of your sleep (or do this first, depending on your needs).

After you take it, darken the lights and go to bed.  If you must use your computer, use an app like Black Light for Mac or Flux for both Mac and Windows.  Many people love Flux.  I use Black Light because I can’t make the screen a really dark red so when I’m searching YouTube for an Alan Watts video it doesn’t mess with the production of my night-time hormones.

Obviously, make sure you aren’t eating any sugary foods or caffeine close to bedtime, as this can surely disrupt your sleep.  If you wake up in the middle of the night from being hungry, taking some Whey Protein, eating a scoop of Almond/Peanut Butter on a stick of celery, etc. before bed will keep you asleep.

Throw on an eye-mask (or darken your room if you can) pop in some earplugs (make sure you can still wake up to an alarm!) and get ready to sleep like a slab of granite.

Make sure you are following this simple chart:

supplements for sleep l-tryptophan holy basil

You can buy sleep supplements through Amazon or a local health food store.  Just make sure that what you are getting is high quality.  I listed the ones I personally recommend below.  These are affiliate links, which give me a few cents if you click them and decide to buy (4% of $15 is $0.60).  However, I stand by these products and if that stops you from buying them, you can search for them in Amazon.com yourself or buy them locally and I won’t get a commission.

Amazon:

So in other words, I need to take a *$%#load of supplements to sleep?

I only had to take all of those supplements until I got my sleep cycle figured out.  I was taking all of the above and I’d wake up once in the night and retook Valerian Root.  After a while of getting consistent sleep and escaping the cycle, now I usually only take one holy basil, sometimes nothing at all.

That is the great thing about natural supplements.  They don’t produce dependency like the strong sleeping medications out there.

What do I do if this doesn’t work?

The most important part is that you start to experiment to find out what works for you.  Don’t stop until you finally start sleeping!  Everyone should be able to sleep great.  It took me a long time of trial-and-error and giving up before I finally found what I had to do, it might be a much shorter journey for yourself.

Dave Asprey over at Bulletproof Executive lists these as his guidelines to restful sleep:

  1. Eat a Bulletproof Diet.
  2. Hack your nervous system to manage stress.
  3. Upgrade your brain.
  4. Install F.lux on your computer (it’s free).
  5. Don’t exercise for at least 2 hours before bed.
  6. Avoid bright lights and LCD screens at least 1 hour before bed.
  7. Go to bed before 11:00 PM.
  8. Track coffee, green tea, and chocolate consumption to see if they effect your sleep (this is where a Zeo becomes a necessity).
  9. Cheat with biochemistry (use supplements).
  10. Sleep on an earthing mat.
  11. Run a current across your brain with a cerebral-electric stimulator, AKA, “electrosleep” machine.

If you aren’t ready to run an”electrosleep” machine current across your brain, you can also try other supplements such as GABA, Ornithine, or Chamomile tea.  The key is to start experimenting and see what personally works for you.  Does taking a hot shower before bed help you relax? Does a cold shower knock you out?  Does exercising late in the day keep you awake? What about just Valerian Root and Magnesium?  Can you read nonfiction before bed without your mind racing?  Play around with it.

I ordered a Light Box from Amazon to start using in the morning now that winter has started.  They are high powered lights that emit light at 10,000 lux, which sends the same signals to your brain that the sun does.  You can see in the link here what my honest thoughts are about using the light lamp that I bought.

References

  1. Sembulingam K, Sembulingam P, Namasivayam A. Effect of Ocimum sanctum Linn on noise induced changes in plasma corticosterone level. Indian J Physiol
    Pharmacol. 1997 Oct;41(4):429-30.
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  • Troy

    Awesome T-Man! I’m gonna try out this method.

    • http://www.facebook.com/tj.nelson.9256 TJ Nelson

      Let me know if you have any questions Troy!

  • Jo

    Will this make me feel groggy in the morning and low energy during the day? I have a natural alarm clock, will this help me sleep through that on days I want to sleep in?

    • http://TaylorJamesTJ.com TJ

      I haven’t felt that way in the morning, if anything you should have more energy in the morning. Magnesium definitely wouldn’t have that effect.

      As far as sleeping in on certain days by using the supplements, I don’t know you should try it and report back. The eye mask will help though 🙂

    • http://www.facebook.com/tj.nelson.9256 TJ Nelson

      I never feel groggy or low energy in the morning. When I wake up it can take a second or two to get out of bed, but after about 2 minutes of moving I am fully awake!

      I don’t know if the supplements themselves will help you sleep past your alarm clock. You might sleep more if you need to catch up on your sleep. But the eyemask will definitely help you sleep past your alarm clock because it will block out any light coming into your bedroom.

  • Ollie

    Thanks for taking the time to do this buddy. I just got the delivery today so exited to test it out tonight. I haven’t slept properly in years, just lie awake for up to 6 hours then doze off for a few hours at the end only to wake up feeling weird.

    • TJ Nelson

      Ollie,

      What did you order?

      Let me know how it goes! I am very curious to know what you take and how it affects you. Thank you for checking out the article I hope it works out.

      • Ollie

        Hi,

        I ordered Doctors best Tyrptopure ( Medical grade L typtophan) + Pukka andographis & holy basil. They where the only ones I could get delivered before I leave for Thailand. But they defiantly work! I usually either meditate and let my mind go blank or get lost in thoughts for up to 6 hours before I can sleep, but was out with in 20 mins the first night. I doubled the dose last night (1000mg + 180mg) but found it made no difference, and took longer if anything. I woke up for maybe 5 mins 3 times the first night. I used ear plugs, eye mask and didn’t eat protein for 2 hours before bed. Had dreams that I can remember for the first time in a long long time both nights. I also used to feel very suicidal for 30 mins every morning after waking up, which would pass quickly and was only ever right after waking up so I got used to it. But feel completely normal now! Thanks so much again for writing this, I really appreciate it 🙂 P.S Sorry for not ordering through your links, but I’m in the UK and needed them unusually fast.

        • TJ Nelson

          Wow that is amazing. I used to have insomnia for the longest time and it would mess everything up in my life.

          Thanks for taking the time to comment, if you have any other questions let me know.

          When are you leaving for Thailand? I’m heading to Chiang Mai in October.

          • Ollie

            It’s amazing how much of a difference is making to everything, general well being, state of calm, focus, my body feels light and more. Kinda feel a bit stupid for not figuring this out myself.

            I’m not really a fan of CM, I know everyone sais its a good scene for productivity etc but I just don’t feel it. Much prefer being by beach, catching a few waves and diving. I’ll be on one of the islands for sure, going to Phuket first. If you fancy coming down I’ll buy you a big lunch and a few beers for the advice, only 3 days in but I mean it when I say it’s been life changing. Nice to wake up with a smile!

          • TJ Nelson

            Sounds good, I can always use some good food!

            Do you go to Thailand often?

          • Ollie

            Hey bro, yea come here a bit now. Spent the last 2 winters here, 9 months in SE asia, 3 in the UK. This combo really is amazing. I ran out of both and thought I’d be ok, but with in 2 days I was back to square 1. You can’t buy any out here either, so had to order from the US which takes 8 days. I have tried everything from xanex to valarien root and nothing gets even close. Even tried eating loads of chicken as it has tryptophan in faily high doses but it’s not enough. Great find mate, it really is gold and hoping my delivery arrives soon before I have a xanex addiction! Ollie

          • TJ Nelson

            I took magnesium and calcium again with a tryptophan the other night for the first time in a while because I was starting to get stressed. Definitely noticed a big difference.

            I’ll bringing a ton of supplements with me to Thailand to experiment more.

            What do you do for a living to be able to live in different places throughout the year?

          • Ollie

            Yea it’s great stuff, my shippment didn’t make it through customs so
            have another 8 days to wait, currently have a Valium addiction! I forgot I actually saw this site in on a DC status from some other guy. I work on the interwebz doing affiliate kind of stuff. I just added you.

          • TJ Nelson

            Saw it on a DC status? What did it say?

            Wow, member of the DC. It’s a small world :). Added you. You going to be in Bangkok for the event in October?

          • Ollie

            I can’t remember was so long ago, it was positive tho. Not going to the event, went last year, but might come to BKK at the time to see a few people, so hopefully see you there!

  • Laurie

    how much of hoy basil and tryptophan do I take?

    • TJ Nelson

      I take one capsule each, which comes out to 500mg of Tryptophan.

      I’d start there and then try increasing the dose to see if it has more of an effect or not.

      Make sure not to eat a few hours before taking the Tryptophan. If it doesn’t work with increasing the dose, you can try taking Niacin or B Vitamins as well to encourage the brain to convert it into serotonin more readily (if you don’t have enough niacin the body will convert the tryptophan into niacin).

      Let me know how it goes!

  • Amy

    Great advice! I have had insomnia for awhile and l-tryptophan 1000mg and gaba have seem to have cured me, so far….I have read and tried so many other things that just didn’t work. Sleep is just sooo important 🙂

    • TJ Nelson

      Hey Amy! Do you take 1,000mg of L-Tryptophan? Or is that combined with the L-Tryptophan and GABA?

      I’m curious as to what your experiences have been with GABA. GABA never really seemed to effect me.

  • Amy

    Yes, I take 1000mg of L-Tryptophan combined with 750mg of GABA. This combo works well for me, much better than the tryptophan alone. I have read how it doesn’t cross the blood/brain barrier, who knows for sure….I have only been using GABA for a short time, but it has put me to sleep every night, which for me is amazing!

    • TJ Nelson

      So you’ve tried the L-Tryptophan by itself then? And the GABA seems to help relax you even more?

  • Amy

    I have tried tryptophan alone, its way more effective for me, with GABA. Have you tried the two together? Are you still sleeping well? How long have you been taking L-Tryptophan?

    • TJ Nelson

      Yes, I’ve been sleeping well for over a year now. I’ve taken L-Tryptophan off an on for about that length of time. Sometimes just magnesium alone is enough, sometimes I don’t take anything. But when I can tell I’m a little restless or off, some magnesium with L-Tryptophan and I’m sleeping.

  • Fiona

    how much 5 htp do you take with the holy basil

    • TJ Nelson

      Generally take the lowest dose first, then take more as needed.

      For example, the typical dose for 5HTP is 50mg. So I would try taking one. If you don’t feel anything, take another one, and if you don’t feel anything, take another one.

      Some people are affected by one capsule, some need more.

      If you take a bunch and still don’t feel much, it is likely you will respond better to L-Tryptophan.

  • justin

    Hey TJ, thanks for your article. I’ve been looking for a sleep mask for awhile now, but haven’t found one that is comfortable. Do you have any reccomendations for this?

    • TJ Nelson

      Hey Justin, this is the one I bought: http://amzn.to/Mv05Jf

      Does the job for me, and comes with some earplugs (although you’ll need more, I throw mine away after a week or so)

  • Kellie

    Good article. I have dealt with sleep problems for about 5 years (literally 2 or 3 hours a night) and have tried all sorts of combinations of things, but the tryptophan (versus 5HTP for me), valerian root, and L-theanine (I can feel this calming me down within 20 min.) do the trick for me. Melatonin doesn’t work and makes me feel weird the next day. I haven’t tried the Holy Basil, but may give it a try and switch off with the valerian root. So, how many milligrams are you taking of each? I read that valerian needs to be tapered off, so I am going to try that soon, since I am taking 3 (225mg each) a night, plus 3 when I wake up in the night. I have only been doing this combination for three weeks and can’t believe how much better I am sleeping with no hangover feeling the next day.

    • TJ Nelson

      Yes, Valerian root can cause dependency so if you just stop it is likely that you aren’t going to sleep good for a few days :).

      Holy Basil I was just taking a 500mg capsule every night.

  • Rj

    I must tell you that I have tried all kinds of sleep remedies over the years to treat my chronic insomnia. Nothing worked for more than a couple of weeks. The ONLY thing that worked for me was when I took high doses of Tryptophan (6g) for 1 week, and then cut that in half the second week, and then cut that in half the 3rd week. I slept ALL night – (8 hours!) – from the first night I started doing this. I hadn’t slept for more than 3 or 4 hours for about 6 years. I was a little angry that correcting my insomnia was that simple and I hadn’t read anything about this in all my searching, but also thankful that it was this simple.

    • TJ Nelson

      That is amazing. Did you find that you had any aftereffects the next day? How did you learn about using Tryptophan for insomnia and how did you know to take such a high dose?

  • groentje

    You know what cured my severe insomnia (I could only sleep few hours a week) Calcium supplement ! After months of trying so many supplements and medications just a simple mineral supplement did the trick ! I am lactose intolerant so maybe that is way I was calcium deficient;

    • groentje

      correction why not way (obviously)

    • TJ Nelson

      Yes! Calcium and magnesium were two supplements that have helped me sleep greatly in the past.

  • garystartswithg

    Good job researching! I was taking 20 mgs of melatonin for cluster headaches and it really messed me up. I was sleepwalking, grinding my teeth til I cracked one, and would wake up feeling like I had been run over by a truck. Some people I guess it doesn’t effect, though doctors like Dr Weil recommend very small amounts (.5 mgs) if you use it regularly.
    Magnesium and calcium supplements are not the same, at all. I have been taking a combo magnesium glycinate and magnesium malate.

    • TJ Nelson

      By not the same, do you mean they are working for you now?

      And yes, most people act shocked when they hear that melatonin makes me more depressed and doesn’t help me at all. It doesn’t work for everyone. For the people that it does work, I also don’t recommend taking it everyday over the long-term.

      • garystartswithg

        A lot of magnesium is just a good diuretic — like milk of magnesia and antacid pills. The bonded magnesiums (glycinate, malate, taurate) seem to work better and with what they are bonded to. glycinate is bonded to glycine, which is something that you might like to play with. its helpful for mental well being. Taurine and malic acid are better for muscle and nerve pain.

        Calcium supplements are kind of dangerous for men, if you can get enough calcium from your diet its generally recommended you do that. Its generally advised you don’t take the limestone, chalk type (calcium carbonate). New research suggests that dementia in little old ladies could be from a life of calcium supplements. You can get food derived calcium supplements, they tend to be for organic vegan specific diets and expensive. The upside of the expensive food derived calcium is its balanced with D3, K2, magnesium and other good stuff. Even if you aren’t a vegan you can still take vegan supplements. If you have a few extra bucks you might look into them.

        Now is a good time to push the dangers of things like Soylent, as they use the cheapest forms of vitamins and minerals possible. It might be better than a diet of pizza and diet coke, maybe, nobody is exactly sure.

        There is a prescription, Rozerem, its essentially just designer melatonin and has lots of side effects including dizziness, tiredness, sleepwalking, and depression. Melatonin really just helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle, its best temporarily for jet lag.

        Have you tried a negative ion generator yet? it helps my mood a lot, I got one from mystic marvels on amazon for like 80. A lot of “ionizers” and “purifiers” generate a lot of ozone, something you don’t want in your bedroom.

        Try hops and or passionflower instead of valerian, They work better for me. Hops knocks me out but doesn’t help me sleep, its very short term. It would taste better w a glass of water too. Valerian is nasty.

        • TJ Nelson

          Yes, Valerian is quite nasty. It helped me in the beginning. Then I stopped taking it.

          I’ve never tried an ion generator. I tend to move around a lot, so it is hard for me to own a lot of stuff. I’d try one out if I decide to live somewhere long-term for a while or if someone else had one.

          When I heard about Soylent, I instantly thought the same thing.

          Here is one idea I like to keep in mind when it comes to food: When we eat real foods, what are all the good things in it that we DON’T know about yet? Remember, we are discovering new minerals/vitamins as we go.

          There is still a lot more to food that we haven’t discovered, so anything created synthetically and meant to replace food doesn’t vibe with me.

          • garystartswithg

            Our food is increasingly less nutrient dense too. A standard supermarket egg has 1/2 the nutrients of an egg in Europe, and I could go on for paragraphs as to the hows and whys. It should be easy to get enough magnesium from food, but magnesium rich foods are losing from factory farming.
            Here’s my simple two question quiz on negative ions — do you feel better after a shower? do you get really aggravated in traffic? your shower is a negative ion generator. water molecules burst as they hit the tile. rush hour is when you will encounter the least amount of negative ions. The science behind negative and positive ions is really geeky, but in general electronic devices produce positive ions and nature produces negative ions. The one I have is 2″x4″x6″, its extremely portable. It also looks like some strange camera monitoring device so it will expose all your friend’s neurosis too.
            Depression sucks, I know firsthand. I don’t think of it as a disease, I think of it as a symptom. You are smart, that will always work for your benefit. It won’t make for financial riches, that’s the realm of sociopaths. Having extra food on your table means someone else has to starve. The person that thinks they know everything that can’t learn anything, so keep on keeping on.

          • TJ Nelson

            Hey, How quick did you find you felt effects when using the negative ion generator?

            I used to always just analyze and think too much about everything. Then I just decided one day to actually TRY things out and see if they WORKED. So I would be willing to put one to the test.

            Also, about extra food on your table meaning someone else has to starve. I have to disagree. I used to have that belief as well.

            It isn’t true at all. There are win-win situations everywhere.

          • garystartswithg

            The effects of negative ions are kind of indirect, I really don’t understand the science behind it, I am a geographer and economist, not a biologist. Negative ions activate cilia and active cilia are part of neurotransmitter production and distribution if that makes any sense. If we were perfect the neurotransmitters enhance the activity of cilia, making everything operate effectively.
            Techies learned they help you sleep, and I don’t really understand the hows and whys, I am assuming it has to do with the hypothalamus. the guy that owns mystic marvels was building them for himself long before he thought about building them for other people. It doesn’t knock you out like holy basil, but it does improve your sleep area and promote relaxation and improves your mood.
            There are a lot of negative ion products on the market that are questionable, like negative ion bracelets, salt lamps, carbon sticks, etc. The claim with the bracelets is they send negative ions through your skin which is extremely dubious. salt lamps and carbon sticks do produce some negative ions, but there are a lot of buts to consider too, like how much do they really produce. There are also “ionizers” that just produce ozone, not negative ions. You could install a water wall fountain in your bedroom, that would work, but its considerably more expensive.
            There is some evidence that negative ions help people with bipolar disorder, possibly helping regulate neurotransmitters. they most likely won’t help with serious cases of clinical depression though.

          • TJ Nelson

            Sounds interesting.

            It is something to experiment with to see if you can get subtle increases in overall well-being and something to be aware of, but not necessarily a go-to solution for overcoming something like depression or bipolar.

            If I ever see one, I will check it out.

  • Rachel

    So happy that I found your blog! I will let you know if this works! I’ve struggled for over a month now. Will let you know!

    • TJ Nelson

      Glad you found it and thanks for posting! Let me know how this works. Also, Glycine and Taurine are great as well if you are still having issues. If you want to know more about those let me know. I am intending on updating this post soon.

  • Jai Evans

    Hi there

    Just received my Tulsi and 5HTP still awaiting the L Tryptophan and Valerian extract.
    Thanks so much for the advice western doctors will not share to support the dirty legal drug trade. I am really hoping this works as I have had the same experience as you with Melatonin. Yes Melatonin makes me sleepy but when wired I still cannot switch off. Could you advise how much Tryptophan to take prior to bed and how many mg of holy basil?

    This time I ordered these supplements from Australia as I needed them asap. If they work I will order them through the links supplied so you gain your percentage.

    I too haver been prescribed the dangerous Ambien or Stillnox here in Aus and they are terrible addictive drugs that after a while do not work anyway. I was also prescribed Oxazepam and Diazepam (Valium) both of which In small doses don’t work and in higher doses provide terrible unnatural sleep.

    Thanks

    • TJ Nelson

      Doesn’t matter too much if you use my links or not, if you order one bottle of Holy Basil through them I get about $0.32. You can use them or not, your choice.

      Tryptophan – take the lowest dose and see what happens. Then slowly increase it from there to gauge how it affects you. That way if one capsule is all you need, then you will sleep great with a smaller dose. It also helps because you are starting at a safe dose so you won’t get any crazy reactions and as you slowly increase it, you can back off if anything adverse starts to happen.

  • CTGCapo

    Great info!!! My only question is, how many pills of each should I take? I have Magnesium, Holy Basil, Gaba and will be getting L tryptophan on Monday.

    • TJ Nelson

      Take a low dose and then gauge your response. Slowly increase your dose to see how it affects you.

      For example, with l tryptophan you could take one capsule and see how you feel. If everything is fine and you don’t feel much after 20-30 minutes, take another.

      Start with the lowest dose than gradually move upwards until you find the sweet spot.

      Every person is different.

      • CTGCapo

        Thanks man. I appreciate it!!!

  • Martin

    Thx for posting your sleep hacks here. My issue is similar to what you used to struggle with re waking in the middle of the night. I typically fall asleep fine and sleep really well (deep) and then wake up 5-6 hrs later, like wide-awake…most often have to use the restroom and am hungry, often cold body temp as well, which is similar to the “ketosis” feeling I have in am from intermittent fasting most days.

    Anyway, my metabolism seems really fast and even on nights when I have a nut butter on a rice cake before bed and a tbsp or two of coconut oil and krill oil, it still happens. Sometimes it takes :45-1hr to fall back asleep, which is the really frustrating part.

    I supplement a lot and have taken Exhilarin (Metagenics version of Holy Basil) but have not tried right before bed yet as a sleep hack…usually take 200mg Mag, 60-90 Zinc Picolinate, Potassium most every night 30 mins before bed.

    Going to try the Valerian by the bed when this happens and add L-Tryptophan to my protocol. GABA and 5-HTP haven’t seemed to help with this issue…also going to try a protein/egg shake right before bed.

    Questions are A) do you have any other ideas? B) on the Valerian, how long does it typically take to “break the cycle”? Would you suggest trying Valerian in my case before bed or only as a middle of the night solution? and C) if I take the sups 30 min before bed on empty stomach and then eat 5-10 minutes before bed, curious if this timing will allow the L-Tryptophan to work without the “interference” you mention in other replies from eating…

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts or ideas you might have…

    • TJ Nelson

      I would get your thyroid and adrenals checked out if you haven’t already. Thyroid seems suspect since you are hungry all the time. Waking up in the middle of the night wide awake means your adrenals are usually pumping out cortisol and waking you up.

    • HDL

      Look up Ashwagandha. It is an adaptogenic that could maybe help you.

  • luffy

    I am trying to recover from rebound insomnia (dont ever take benzos for
    sleep) I started to take a low dose melatonin (1mg drop), l tryptophan
    and some valierian root and ive been sleeping for about 5-6 hours each night the last few days, but sleep quality sucks. I always wake up once and it takes me a good 30 minutes to fall back asleep. Thanks for sharing your combo. I ordered the 5htp and the tulsi. Ive also heard some good things about ashwaghanda. Some people were saying that works great for sleep. have you tried to take that supplement before?

    • TJ Nelson

      Yes, ashwagandha is good. It can produce a very relaxed mood.

  • nozferat

    I’ve tried all these and they still don’t work.

    I take holy basil, calcium, magnesium, Htp-5, etc you name it. I’ve tried them all.

    I have also changed my diet…I have turned somewhat vegetarian the last month or two and coincidentally my insomnia has become progressively worse since that change.

    My theory is that I may not be getting enough protein. But I never get up or feel hungry..ever.

    My problem isn’t waking up…my problem is I simply DO NOT SLEEP. I do not fall into deep sleep and feel like I’m half awake all the time. I toss, turn, and get up to check the time and I find it’s 4 AM.

    I exercise, eat healthy, don’t drink coffee at night..EVER. I drink chamomile tea, etc …i do everything that should tire me out and help but I just can’t figure it out.

    I’m running on fumes….

    • TJ Nelson

      Dp you eat enough calories? Why did you choose to go vegetarian?

      I bet if you ate massive meal at dinner of grass fed beef/steak, a little sweet potato, avocado, and tons of healthy fats, when it comes night time you should have all the building blocks to knock you out.

      • nozferat

        I’m not sure if I do or don’t. I probably do not as I’ve lost
        weight…about 4 lbs and I’m a lightweight already…5″6 and 136 lbs
        male.

        I started eating meat again the last two days.

        Monday I was unable to sleep at all..I mean no sleep. Tuesday I was tossing and turning until about 3 AM after which I remember merely waking up at around 8 but not sure when I actually slept.

        I had Valerian root and chamomile tea Tuesday night. I’m sure your diet would help.

        Here is a very interesting article about Insomnia well worth the read by everyone here.

        http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-causes-insomnia/

    • Vallet

      Me too….well mines is a little different…I sleep through the night but I cant stop dreaming and I wake up feeling exhausted like I never slept…

  • nozferat

    I’ll repeat the link here for everyone to read…might help all of us in some way.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-causes-insomnia/

  • Nick Manning

    I would steer clear of Holy Basil if you’re trying to get pregnant. It’s known as an “anti-fertilty agent”.

    Source: http://examine.com/supplements/Holy%20Basil/

  • steve

    Hi tj, I have had issues sleeping for years. Too many thoughts going through my head, dont really sleep. I am 60 days in to a 100 percent bulletproof and I have seen yout posts all over the forums. My sleep has not improved w the diet, I am taking daves recommended supps as well. I ordered the holy basil you recommended and was going the 5htp and l tryp then I ran across dave commenting on how he cant recommend either or due to xyz, and I cant find the post again. Also you said you take 500mg of holy basil and 500mg htp, but on your supplements your only buying 50mg of 5htp??? So you take 10 50 mg htps per night or did to reset sleep cycle? Sorry for all the questions trying to fix this shitty insomnia. I have tried melatonin bad news groggy as hell didnt really help and gaba nothing works, had ambien hate that as well. I am sure after these reviews from others that this should help with experimentation. Please comment on what you can. Thank you

    • TJ Nelson

      Hi Steve,

      What forums are you seeing the posts?

      Also, where do I say 500mg of 5-HTP? That is a MASSIVE dose, it should say 50mg.

      • steve

        I see your posts on thr bulletproof forums all good stuff. Anyways I confused your post under kellys thread, where you said to take 500mg of holy basil. My apologies. Last night I tried one holy basil, two mags and one 5 htp 100mg no sleep last night going on about five days no sleep. Do you recommend ever taking the valerian root to kick start things with the supplements when I lay down or just when you wake up in the middle of the night? What would be considered too much 5htp or tryp? Do you suggest adding one pill a night id no results or taking another tryp or 5htp same night if not sleeping?

        • TJ Nelson

          Valerian root can cause dependency so just don’t use it too many days in a row.

          • steve

            Thanks TJ

          • steve

            Still having trouble w valerian 200mg of l tryp and 500 holy basil. Did it take a few nights for it to start working

          • TJ Nelson

            Tryptophan can take a while and 200mg is a low dose. Try taking 500mg, then 1000mg if that doesn’t work, and 1500mg if that doesn’t work.

            At times I would take anywhere from 1,000-2,000mg for tryptophan to do the trick.

            Also, if you have chronic sleeping problems and supplements aren’t helping, it could be a deeper issue, like a magnesium deficiency for example.

            It is always important to look at everything to get a clear picture of why you aren’t sleeping. If you have elevated levels of cortisol at night due to adrenal issues and aren’t sleeping because you don’t have enough magnesium in your body, tryptophan and valerian are going to be bandaid solutions at best.

          • steve

            I had all my levels checked they are all “normal” but I am still supplementing what asprey recommends. I am stuck in a cycle of anxiety because of no sleep visa versa. I was worried about high levels of tryptophan. Does the dosage apply for 5htp? Valerian as well? Thank you again for the recommendations I am not giving up as you said. I will keep let you know when and how I defeat this.

          • TJ Nelson

            Why are you worried about high levels of tryptophan? High dosages of 5-HTP should be more closely watched than tryptophan from what I have seen.

            Valerian can cause dependency if you use it everyday, that is why I suggested using it only as an emergency backup.

          • steve

            http://forum.bulletproofexec.com/index.php?/topic/6127-l-tryptophan-dangers/
            Dave has said several times it is one of the most toxic amino acids, there is futher literature in the link. It sucks that there seems to be heavy negative consequences along with many unknowns in regards to most sleep inducing or calming vitamins and and pills.

          • steve

            Hi tj, just wanted to give you an update. Holy basil was killing my stomach, no idea why. Last night was the first time I have slep in months and I feel great today. I know this combo will work for continue to work but I know I cant do this every day. The combi was gaba an hr before bed, 2000mg of ltryp, and valarian. How long did it take to reset your cycle? Would you recommend switching from ltryp to 5 htp? Slowly ween off valerian until cycle is reset? Please let me know your thoughts and thank you for all of the help. It took weeks of trial and error. Also have you tried sleep restriction, 80 percent of insomniacs cured on 21 day program.

          • TJ Nelson

            It took a few months but once I got most of my issues and deficiencies. You shouldn’t take valerian for more than 3-4 days in a trow.

            What is sleep restriction?

          • steve

            http://www.talkaboutsleep.com/sleep-restriction-therapy-when-nothing-else-works/
            Sleep restriction therapy, every site says it is the absolute best thing for insomniacs, better than herbs,vits,pills obv etc…

            There are a ton of articles. I tried it and it definetly worked, I like most people fell asleep at day three for a few hours. I have not slept in months before I started trying all of these things. have many schedule conflicts in my life unfortunately. Basically 21 days, restrict your sleep from 10 to 430am. Once you sleep through the whole night you increase your wake up time by 15 minutes. Also lookup Dr. John Bergmans seminar on SRT, I think it would be very useful for your followers. Thanks again for the help TJ I am sure you have helped many others.

  • Michelle Morgan

    I used to suffer from insomnia for about 3 years and so I very much relate to people who suffer with it. No medications or treatments ever really did anything for me (I tried them all haha) but I was actually able to cure my insomnia after countless hours of online research and trial & error. What worked for me is:

    1. Take Magnesium Supplements. Research has shown that even a marginal lack of magnesium can prevent the brain from settling down but speak to your doctor before taking.

    2. Follow every step in the full guide seen at the following site:

    newcureforhealth*com/insomnia (obviously change the * for a dot as it won’t let me post links here) This will get to the root of the insomnia in a NATURAL way. This is the important bit!

    3. Do not eat after 7pm at night. Probably something you have heard before but along with the other things I’ve said above this is vital.

    Try all those 3 steps together and hopefully you will get as much luck with getting rid of insomnia as I did. Just stay confident as this does not have to be permanent as long as you have it in you to want to overcome it. Good luck and just hope that I have helped someone with my comment xx

  • EzA

    I’ve used all the sups and F.lux before reading this article and they all definitely help. Thank you for the comprehensive info. Along with correcting diet and habits there can be disturbances in which the source is parasites, bacterial and hormonal imbalances.

    My story: I went through severe restless leg, waking at 3am, running on 3-5 hours a night for many months after learning of a friends death. A diagnostic revealed H. pylori infection and I’m sure I had the infection for at least 7 years with on and off symptoms-anxiety, often crappy sleep etc. The bug caused a sense of hunger even after I’ve eaten and a constant pressure in the pit of my stomach. Sleep was difficult, felt wired and tired all the time. It wasn’t a racing mind, rather a racing body. My cortisol tanked after the emotional event and the sleeplessness got worse. When cortisol drops below normal, adrenaline may kick in to sustain you which makes it impossible to sleep at all. The pylori definitely contributed to my body mounting a defense that kept my stress hormones raised which helped eventually deplete my reserves.

    After I conceded to do the triple anti-biotic therapy along with desiccated adrenal and tons of salted water it stopped my slipping into permanent damage land. Most telling was that before I finished the 2-3 weeks of the therapy my ability to sleep through the night came back. At first it was no more than 5 hours than it gradually lengthened to 7. I’m still stressed for other reasons, but, I can knock out now within 20 minutes and stay asleep for the entire night, often without help of supplements.

    On nights I can’t fall asleep in less than 20 minutes, I use Kavinace. It never fails to knock me out. It contains a precursor to GABA. I also take 5-HTP to lower stress levels by raising serotonin on occasion. I found this and tryptophan to be extremely effective to have an even keeled day.

    Another issue that needs to be addressed is drops in blood sugar when asleep. That will kick you awake. Taking something like a small bit of protein can protect from drops during sleep.
    Dis-regulated blood sugar and should be addressed immediately with a low processed sugar/ low carb diet.
    The adrenals are especially important and you’d be surprised at how many things will affect this gland. Getting checked for chronic infections and correcting imbalances will help tremendously in correcting some sleep issues that may seem to have no reason.

    • TJ Nelson

      I have never actually heard of Kavinace, I will have to check that out.

      Does it cause dependency in your experience?

      • EzA

        Hi TJ,
        I’ve used it on and off for over 6 months. When my Doc first addressed my adrenal issue I was on it for 2 months every night to help me get my
        rest. Before I was walking up 3 times a night. This stopped that
        problem first night. Also, reduced the restless leg issue quite a bit. My NatDoc recommended it for the extreme insomnia caused by my messed up adrenals.
        This explains what’s in it. No more addictive than 5-HTP, GABA or Melatonin. http://womeninneuroscience.org/sleep/kavinace-side-effects.html

        My adrenal issues and stress have since settled down, I don’t need it as often. I use taurine and/or 5-HTP to calm down processes for bedtime. I even skip those most nights and I can still sleep.

        If you have the racing thoughts GABA seems to be the indication to shut them off…..and it does in my experience.
        I recommend taking couple hours before bed to allow it to flood your brain and gently relax your mind.

  • Jae Caoagdan

    For someone who has Psychophysiological insomnia, you think these supplement will work?

  • Siham Siham

    you still are taking all this supplements ? because i tried to take iron once and then i had tachycardie , and for calcium the last time i took it ( one tablette ) i just couldn’t wake up i fell dizzy all the day because calcium can cause something in intern ear

    i don’t know i v seen differents doctors and specialists all my life , and they just gave me many sorte of medicatios because when i do blood test , they say that everything is ok ! exept iron because i’m femal and of course all women have a litlle anemia

    i think they don’t know how to help me , cause i can see that they are too in trouble working between all those medicactions a montain on the desk

    I wish i could take off this bad feeling and low mood without any supplements because im not sure that this is natural but thank you for all this imformation you share with us it’s give me some hope

    I will continu to search more and more till i find !

    • TJ Nelson

      I don’t take all the supplements still, just a few here and there. Supplements are meant to “supplement” your diet and get you back on track, not to stay on them forever.

      Depression can be a trial-and-error process. You just need to find out what your root cause is and once you find that, fix it and the symptom of depression will start to fade.

  • Robbie

    Thank you for sharing some of the things that have worked for you. I am looking forward to hearing more about overcoming the obstacles of such horrible experiences coming off of psychic drugs. I am interested in trying some of the things that have been suggested for sleep as well. For women I can’t help to wonder how much more challenging it can be especially if there are hormonal changes through menopause. Still looking for more research and actually only 72 days into a psychic drug free life. It’s been very hard! But…I want to do this. Thank you for all your input.

    • TJ Nelson

      Thanks for commenting, glad that it has helped you. Keep us all updated on your journey.

  • karen ross

    I have had insomnia for years. Tried many things from seroquel which worked great but caused tremendous weight gain. Tramadol, etc etc. Was put on benzo for sleep. Big mistake. Now I am going through slow w/d from it and can’t sleep. I am trying to figure out what supplement to try but am considering tryptophan unless TJ or someone has better advice.The line “better life through chemicals” is a lie.

  • HDL

    Great post, not many people understand the power of natural supplements. In my opinion, they are more effective than any pharmaceuticals and no unwelcomed side effects.
    My combo for a good night sleep is L-Tryptophan, L-Theanine, Ashawaga and Melatonin, (Magnesium and B Ultra from time to time).

    • TJ Nelson

      Do you take Melatonin everyday?

      • HDL

        Yes. I feel more refreshed in the morning since I introduced melatonin in my night supplement regime and I am less tired during the day. Melatonin is not only a sleep aid. It regulates the internal day-night cycle, it is an anti-oxydant and an anti inflamatory. I like it so much that I progressively increased the dosage from 2mg initialy to 4 to 6 and now I’m at 12mg. I’ve been taking it for over a year now.
        I may want to add to watch out about high serotonin induced by l-tryptophan. The first signs of too much serotonin is that you sweat a lot. You may want to skip a dose from time to time to balance out the serotonin levels.

      • neicy

        I take melatonin once in a while – 2 mgs. and it works, but I need calcium, magnesium, so I take natural calm plus.

  • Mitchell Hill

    Hi TJ, how long did it take you to get your sleep cycle back on schedule when taking these supplements?

    • TJ Nelson

      I’m not sure exactly how long it took. It got me to actually sleep, and once I sleep pretty good for a few nights, that usually resets me.

      Back when I wrote this post, if I remember correctly, it took me about 2 weeks to be sleeping normally on a consistent basis.

  • oscar

    Anyone ever just try marijuana? Safest drug out and you can fall right asleep…also helps with chronic pain, seizures, eating disorders, PTSD, glaucoma, the list goes on….

    • TJ Nelson

      Works for some but isn’t for everyone. If there are other root issues going on, like a magnesium deficiency, it won’t resolve that as well.

      Can be really great for some people, but for others doesn’t fix the root issue.

  • Laurie

    I”m sorry if this is already addressed in an earlier post, but I wanted clarification on something. In the video, you said that 5-HTP stuck with you longer and left you groggy in the morning, and that’s why you now use L-Tryptophan with your Holy Basil. However, in the transcript, you say the opposite: that L-Tryptophan left you groggy and you prefer 5-HTP. Could you please tell me which one you ACTUALLY prefer, and which one left you groggier and “almost too calm?” Thanks!

    • TJ Nelson

      I’m not sure where you read that t-tryptophan left me groggy in the morning in the article, I just wrote that it’s effects still last into the next day. That isn’t very clear, however, when I read that it looked like I meant grogginess but I meant it’s beneficial effects.

      I prefer l-tryptophan.