We live in a culture of stress. Our lifestyles lead to a stress epidemic, where the plug is constantly plugged in and we forget to press the off button. Be it pressure at work, personal or financial issues – All of us experience some sort of stress. It doesn’t only affect our daily performance, but also our sleep patterns.
Ask yourself, how many times did you have to count sheep to fall asleep the night before an important deadline at work? Or you caught yourself having your fifth coffee because your thoughts wouldn’t let you get a sound night of sleep? Stress and insomnia go hand in hand.
What does stress do to your brain?
But what do they actually do to your body? Stress not only impairs short-term cognition, for example, when it makes you forget your colleague’s name during an important meeting, but stress also has a negative effect on memory, logical reasoning and decision making.
When acute stress turns chronic, it gets even worse. Studies have shown that chronic stress can actually be detrimental to the human brain. Long-term stress can damage the hippocampus, our learning and memory centre.
What about lack of sleep? Although both our immune system and hormonal balance are impacted by sleep deprivation, the central nervous system is most affected by lack of sleep. A study found that under chronic stress, brain’s vacuum cleaners, called astrocytes, go into overdrive, cleaning up not only cell debris but also functional neurons. The brain literally eats itself alive. Sounds scary, right?
Luckily there are natural nootropics that can help anyone who has experienced insomnia and stress:
Nootropic foods that reduce stress and improve sleep
1. Ashwagandha – for stress relief
Ashwagandha is an ancient Ayurvedic herb that can put your mind at ease. This herb has stress-relieving properties because it is able to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone. It is an adaptogen, which means it can help prevent physical and chemical effects of stress. It does it through its GABA-like activity. GABA (Gamma Amino-butyric acid) is an inhibitory neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) in our brain. It decreases the activity of neurons and makes sure that nerve cells aren’t too active. As a result, GABA makes you feel calmer, uplifts your mood and helps you go to sleep. Ashwagandha can activate GABA receptors in a similar way, hence the stress-relief and sleep-aid effects.
On top of that, recent research shows that ashwagandha may also help people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases, which are currently on the rise. Dozens of studies show that Ashwagandha slows down and even reverses neural atrophy- aka break down of neurons.
2. Rhodiola rosea – for relaxation without sedation
Rhodiola rosea is another adaptogenic herb with anti-stress properties. It reduces fatigue and exhaustion in moments of prolonged stress and restores the brain’s balance system- homeostasis. Rhodiola rosea works by slowing down the breakdown of happiness neurotransmitters such as serotonin. It also improves the efficiency at which these chemical messengers are moved around the brain. What makes this nootropic different, is that it promotes relaxation without sedation, compared to typical anti-stress pills. Nobody wants decreased brain power, and Rhodiola rosea not only keeps the stress response in check but also improves your concentration.
3. Bacopa monnieri – unwind and rejuvenate
This superherb has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Similar to Rhodiola rosea, it improves cognition and reduces anxiety at the same time. It protects against both acute and chronic stress. Recent research shows that it is as effective at reducing anxiety as benzodiazepine drugs but without the nasty side effects! Evidence-based studies confirm its effectiveness in reducing stress.
These studies showed that this nootropic effectively reduces stress markers all over the brain, but especially in the memory centre- the hippocampus. How does it do it you may ask? Well, it interacts both with dopamine and serotonin production but also promotes better communication between neurons. It also inhibits enzymes which are involved in cognitive decline, aka a detrimental response our brain has to ageing.
If that wasn’t enough, Bacopa monnieri is also an antioxidant, meaning it gets rid of free radicals- waste products that make us age. To sum up, it decreases stress and anxiety, improves cognition and induces clarity as well as protecting our precious brain.
4. Montmorency Tart Cherry – for sweet dreams
Montmorency Cherry is nature’s best source of melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone which is produced by the pineal gland in the brain that puts you to sleep at night. In the era of technology and social media, who doesn’t check their phone before bed? This can affect your circadian rhythm, which is basically a 24 h internal clock. Thanks to the circadian rhythm, you feel energised in the morning and tired in the evening. Sadly, things like artificial light can disrupt this natural process and release of melatonin. Here, Montmorency Cherry comes to the rescue. By providing a rich amount of natural melatonin, it helps you sleep better.
5. Magnesium – for reduced stress
People with anxiety disorder have been found to have lower levels of magnesium. Magnesium can guard against stress hormones from entering the brain. It is a calming mineral, of which we do not get enough in the Western diet. During stressful situations, the amygdala takes control of the entire body: creating tight muscles, increased sensitivities and insomnia. Magnesium can relax these symptoms.
Unplug contains all of these master herbs and nutrients conveniently packed into one capsule!
32% better sleep in 30 days with Unplug
When it comes to sleep, there are no quick fixes. Motion Nutrition’s natural sleep supporter Unplug isn’t designed to send you to sleep in the moment; it’s designed to change your relationship with sleep. By nourishing the mind with nutrients that are missing in the food we eat — day by day, for a month — Unplug gradually makes it easier to wind down and drift off.
After 30 days, Unplug users report:
– Stress and anxiety levels improve by 39%
– Sleep quality improves by 32%
– Time taken to fall asleep reduces by 52%
– Getting out of bed in the morning becomes easier by 36%
Unplug is not a sleeping pill that just knocks you out for hours on end. It’s a natural supplement that helps your body and mind relax by soothing the nervous system and promoting deep sleep. You should wake up feeling refreshed, not groggy like after taking a sleeping pill.