I’ve learned that the most significant factor depending on how I feel is how well I slept the night before. I used to be in the camp that believed that the less sleep I needed, the tougher it made me. This was the sort of culture that was cultivated in med school, internship, and residency. The less you slept, the more time you had to study/work, the tougher you were.
We’re now learning how wrong this way of thinking is. My first job out of training was a graveyard shift worker. I quickly discovered that the constant disruption to my circadian rhythm wrecked me.
I tried every supplement I could get my hands on to help me normalize my sleep in between shifts. Here are just a few of the supplements I took, some of which were helpful, and some of which were just a complete waste.
I finally fixed most of my shift work sleep related issues by finally quitting my job and working normal hours.
Well, even without shift work life still gets in the way. The BJJ Cavewife and I still screw up our sleep on occasion due to late nights out with friends, travel, Netflix binge sessions, Game of Thrones binges (Does anyone really have the self control to stop after just one episode?!), and naps that spiral out of control.
Sometimes after a marathon soul-crushing shopping session with the BJJ Cavewife at TJ Maxx, Homegoods, and Bed Bath and Beyond, we will need a recovery-nap.
Nothing makes the BJJ Cavewife happier than a 20% off everything Bed Bath and Beyond coupon, in fact she actually gets upset when she get’s a 20% off a single-item coupon because it isn’t an everything coupon.
Nothing makes me more miserable than being in one of those stores searching desperately for an out of the way place to sit, so that I can read on my phone until the battery dies… along with my last shreds of happiness.
Unfortunately, she needs me physically there so that I can help her maximize her coupons.
She will use the 20% off everything coupon while I use a $5 off $15 coupon, and then we will walk out of the store having saved $15 on things we didn’t need in the first place. But the BJJ Cavewife will be happy and I will have fulfilled my duty as a husband.
I’m not sure where I was going with this, except to say that the folks behind the Bed Bath and Beyond coupons know what they’re doing… oh yeah, and that because my soul is so crushed after this and the BJJ Cavewife will come down from her extreme-couponing high, we will both be so exhausted that we will need a nap.
Then before we realize it, we’ll have napped for 2 hours and will have a long night of insomnia to look forward to.
It’s on occasions like these that we both take Sleep Remedy.
Dr. Kirk Parsley, who’s also Navy SEAL, created this while treating other SEALS for sleep issues (talk about the ultimate shift work job). To hear him tell it, he researched deeply into the mechanisms behind sleep and came a cross a ‘cocktail’ that seemed to help his patients.
He spent years tweaking the formula until it became so effective and demand grew so large that he was asked to sell it. In it’s first iteration it was actually called, Sleep Cocktail. He changed it to Sleep Remedy for marketing reasons, which I’m sure include distancing it from connotations of alcohol, and here we are.
The idea is that this specific combination is designed to
… restore commonly deficient nutrients associated with sleep. In Dr. Parsley’s experience, once these nutrients have been restored to optimal levels, most people have vastly improved sleep. Your body is still doing all the work. We are just giving your body the materials it needs to create great sleep.
The active ingredients are:
- Vitamin D3
- Magnesium Citrate
Other ingredients include: Xylitol, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Stevia 80% Glycosides, Natural Colors.
How do each of these ingredients affect sleep?
Melatonin – The primary hormone the body produces to promote sleep.
L-Tryptophan – This is an amino acid that the body uses to produce 5-HTP which can then be converted into serotonin and then melatonin.
5-HTP – This is what L-Tryptophan is first converted to before progressing to serotonin and melatonin.
Vitamin D3 4000 IU – The hormone that your skin produces when exposed to sunlight. It has been shown to play an important role in sleep. Folks who are deficient in this (almost everyone nowadays) have poorer sleep quality.
phGABA – GABA is a neurotransmitter produced by the brain which decreases the excitability of neurons and promotes relaxation, however when ingested it has trouble crossing the blood brain barrier. phGABA is a synthetic form of GABA designed to cross the blood brain barrier. Of all the ingredients this one probably gives me the most reason for pause since there are horror stories of folks developing dependency and then withdrawal symptoms from this, although it’s typically with higher doses ranging from 1-4 gm.
Magnesium Citrate 400 mg – This is the most absorbable form of magnesium which is a mineral that is essential in a multitude of enzymatic reactions in the body. It can decrease cortisol and help muscles relax which promotes overall relaxation. It also binds to GABA receptors which further helps the brain calm down.
Unfortunately, the doses of melatonin, L-tryptophan, 5HTP, and phGABA are unknown since each of these ingredients are hidden under the term ‘Proprietary Sleep Blend.’
On podcasts and interviews, Dr. Parsley has mentioned that the amount of melatonin is less than the physiologic level of melatonin which is 0.3 mg, and is actually somewhere between 0.1-0.3 mg. It’s important to keep this in mind since most melatonin supplements come in doses in the range of 2.5 mg to 5 mg which is more than 10x the amount the body typically produces.
Robb Wolf, who is a partner with Dr. Parsley in this supplement company, mentions in the comments of this post that the amount of phGABA is ‘very small’ and ‘subphysiologic.’ I’ve tried to look for what a physiologic amount of GABA is but can’t find anything, so who knows.
I also haven’t been able to find any reference to the amounts of L-tryptophan and 5-HTP, except that
each ingredient are intended to replenish normal levels of these nutrients, to allow for the normal production of melatonin, and to help initiate the initial cascade of events that lead to deep, natural sleep.
How Well Does It Work?
The BJJ Cavewife and I have been using this for over a year now and we’ve found that 75% of the time it gives us some of the most restful sleeps of our lives. The other 25% of the time it doesn’t do anything at all. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s the best we’ve tried so far.
It’s definitely been the most effective supplement we’ve ever taken at recalibrating our circadian rhythms whenever we travel and cross time zones. In fact, we now make sure to bring a couple packets with us on our vacations.
On top of all this, it never leaves us feeling drowsy or groggy the next day, which is especially important to the BJJ Cavewife because she’s been sensitive to this in the past with other supplements including melatonin.
How Does It Taste?
It’s supposed to taste like apple cinnamon but in reality it actually tastes like a distant inbred relative of apple cinnamon. When it first hits your tongue, it’ll taste vaguely sweet in an unpleasant artificial way (thanks to the stevia), and you’ll think you’ve had something like this before but can’t quite put your finger on it.
Then when you look at the box you’ll see the words ‘apple cinnamon’ and think, “well I can kind of see that,” but it’s not definitely something you’ll want to drink just because you like the taste of it.
If you don’t like the taste, you can dilute it with more water, which is what we did initially. Since it’s recommended to take this 30 minutes prior going to sleep the consequences are obvious. Adding more liquids before sleep caused us to wake up in the middle of the night to pee, disrupting our sleep, which is the exact opposite of what this is intended to do.
Our solution was to find the Goldilocks amount of water to balance the taste vs the risk of night time pees, which is usually around half a cup of water. This is half of the 8 oz of water the box recommends.
The Biggest Downside
The main drawback to Sleep Remedy is the price. A single box retails for $59.95 and since each box contains 30 servings this comes out to $1.998 per serving!
Fortunately they offer a subscription (options are every 25 or 30 days) which brings the price down by 10% to $53.96 per box, or $1.798 per serving.
Because I like this product so much and recommend it to anyone I know who has sleep issues, travels a lot, or is a shift worker, I decided to become an affiliate which gives me access to a 10% discount code: bjjcaveman
This brings the price down to $48.57 per box, or $1.619 per serving.
Even with the discounts, this is still one of the most expensive supplements in our pantry so we use it sparingly. A box will last the two of us anywhere from 2-4 months depending on how often we travel or if there’s something worthwhile to binge on Netflix (I’m looking at you Stranger Things and Dare Devil).
At first the BJJ Cavewife didn’t realize how pricey this stuff was and would just open these packets without a care in the world, swinging her hands every which way, spilling this precious powder all over the kitchen counter, and giving me a panic attack the entire time. I’d have to follow her path of wanton destruction and carefully collect each precious grain to make sure none of it got wasted.
It wasn’t until she asked me what the hell I was doing and why I always freaked out whenever she was making herself a cup of it that I explained to her how expensive this stuff was. Now she’s as paranoid about spilling it as I am!
If you or anyone you know is experiencing any sleep issues I’d definitely say it’s worthwhile to try this out. You can even split a box with a couple of friends to diffuse the cost a bit.
Pick it up at www.DocParsley.com
Don’t forget to get an additional 10% off with discount code: bjjcaveman