Research & Education

Don’t Sleep on These Tips: Re-Set Your Sleep Routine

Despite being the only mammals that purposefully delay sleep, human adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Getting the recommended amount of sleep each night is important for every major body system, including the nervous, cardiovascular, immune, endocrine, digestive, and respiratory systems. Sleep is so fundamental to normal human physiology that if an individual is kept awake for 17 hours or more, their motor performance can be impaired as much as if they had a blood alcohol level of 0.05% (the legal limit is 0.08%). Ensuring adequate sleep can be as simple as creating a simple sleep routine. With millions of Americans suffering from sleep disorders like insomnia, which has been linked to numerous chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and obesity, having a solid sleep routine may be the key to a more healthful life.  

The Key(s) To Resetting Your Sleep Routine 

Sleep Stacking Supplements: Magnesium  

Magnesium (Mg) is an important mineral needed for over 300 chemical reactions within the human body. Among its numerous functions, magnesium is involved in intracellular transmission, regulation of neurotransmitter transmission, and synapse formation and maintenance. Magnesium status may also influence the body’s response to stress and sleep. Interestingly, magnesium levels have been reported to be lower in patients with chronically disturbed sleep, such as those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.  

Magnesium has been subject to increased investigation over the past few decades and a 2017 systematic review reported that the use of magnesium intervention improved subjective markers of anxiety. These findings are strengthened by a 2024 systematic review of 15 studies, most of which reported improvements in at least one measure related to sleep or anxiety. Furthermore, a 2023 systematic review (n = 7,582) reported that from the included observational studies, an association between higher magnesium intake and sleep quality in healthy adults was found. The included randomized controlled trials showed a positive effect of Mg supplementation (such as Mg citrate) on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) score, sleep efficiency, and sleep time. However, more research is needed. 

Magnesium can be found in many forms, but researchers have investigated magnesium threonate (MgT) for brain health because it has been found to cross the blood-brain barrier more readily. Other forms of Mg are beneficial as well. Magnesium is widely available in the modern food supply and can be found in commonly eaten fruits and vegetables such as green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, avocados, and even blueberries. Supplementing with magnesium may support a restful night's sleep for those who may not consume enough through the diet.  

Sleep Stacking Supplements: L-Theanine + GABA  

L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea (Camellia sinensis L.) that has demonstrated health benefits, including promoting a healthy stress response, supporting sleep, and improving cognitive function, thanks to its calming properties. Gamma-aminobutyric acid, better known as GABA, is the body's main inhibitory neurotransmitter. GABA works to counteract the effects of glutamate – the body's main excitatory neurotransmitter. An imbalance between GABA and glutamate is thought to contribute to sleep disturbances. Theanine has a molecular structure like L-glutamic acid, where it may help reduce the binding of glutamine to glutamate receptors. Additionally, theanine and GABA may support relaxation by promoting the modification of brain wave patterns to reflect a peaceful and meditative state.  

Theanine has been demonstrated to promote healthy sleep without the risk of increased drowsiness. In one study involving 22 subjects, those who consumed theanine experienced improved sleep and dream quality by reducing dream recall and nightmares. Compared to the placebo group, participants taking theanine reported feeling significantly more refreshed and recovered from exhaustion or fatigue upon waking. However, there were no significant differences in sleep duration between the theanine and placebo groups. 

Magnesium, L-theanine, and GABA support similar functions within the nervous system, which may cause them to act synergistically to support a normal stress response and normal sleep. An animal study evaluated the effect of L-theanine compounds with varying Mg concentrations on sleep quality compared to L-theanine alone. Mice were separated into five groups and given one of the following: control (saline solution), P/Control (pentobarbital followed by saline), P/L-theanine (pentobarbital followed by L-theanine), P/MgT1 (pentobarbital followed by Mg-L-theanine (8% Mg2+), or P/MgT2 (pentobarbital followed by Mg-L-theanine (18% Mg2+). Sleep duration and sleep latency were measured after pentobarbital administration. The strongest effects were seen for the P/MgT2 group (Mg and L-theanine together) where sleep duration increased, and sleep latency decreased (p < 0.05). Other notable findings included that L-theanine administration with varying Mg concentrations attenuated the adverse sleep effects of caffeine consumption, supported delta wave activity, and modulated neurotransmitter receptor levels.  

Supporting Circadian Rhythm for Better Sleep  

The physiology of most animals, including humans, is dictated by changes to genetic expression that are experienced over a 24-hour cycle. These changes are influenced by genes that are innately inseparable from the presence or the absence of light. These genes are called “clock” genes and are found within the brain but also in other organs of the body. The master timekeeper, called the suprachiasmic nucleus (SCN), is found deep within the brain and controls sleep, metabolism, and hormone production. Living in accordance with the natural solar and lunar rhythms of life may help to support health and optimal sleep. A manuscript by Yuan and colleagues offered tips for supporting circadian health, including keeping your sleep/wake cycle as consistent as possible; getting sunlight exposure as soon as possible after waking up; consuming your meals at or near the same times each day; exercising regularly around the same time; switching to more relaxing and meditative activities during the evening while dimming the lights; reducing the use of electronic devices for at least one hour prior to bedtime; and finally, ensuring an optimal sleeping space by making the room cool, quiet, and completely dark.  


Many factors impact sleep quality and sleep disturbances, which may require a supportive routine to promote restful sleep. A restful sleep routine may include habit stacking consisting of sleep-supportive supplements, appropriate exposure to morning and evening light, practical strategies for attenuating the effect of indoor blue light, adequate exercise, and even meal timing. Practicing some or all of these practices can lead to improved sleep, better mental health, and a more healthful lifestyle.

By Bri Mesenbring, MS, CNS, LDN