Supplements that may lower anxiety at night | Masterjohn Q&A Files #02
Supplements that may lower anxiety at night before or during sleep and improve heart rate variability during sleep. I don’t know enough about the HRV, the heart rate variability, to comment on improving that specifically. I do know that—so in my mind, heart rate variability is largely related to recovery from stress. So, I know the Oura ring tracks heart rate variability during sleep. And then other people track it with other devices in the morning. And generally, the main application that I’m familiar with HRV for is recovery from stress, especially from exercise. And so anything that supports recovery, which mainly is rest, mainly is rest, is going to support that, but exercise is going to tank your carbohydrates, so getting enough carbohydrates to support your high-intensity exercise is going to be another thing. I do have a friend who’s been tracking her HRV with the Oura ring and with other devices earlier and basically found that exercise doesn’t do anything to her HRV if she eats enough carbs, but has the predictable response of tanking her HRV and then needing recovery time if she doesn’t eat enough carbs. So, I’m not saying it all comes down to carbs, but that’s a big thing just because the high-intensity exercise that’s tanking your HRV is tanking your muscular glycogen, and so that’s very directly related. But then in general, nutrient density across the board is going to be supportive of recovery, and enough calories is going to be supportive of recovery. Now, lower anxiety at night before or during sleep I think is a whole different story. You might have anxiety because you have not recovered well from your exercise. Maybe your cortisol is running high. But it could be for totally different reasons, and that’s a giant can of worms that I don’t think really can be unpacked in an umbrella answer. I think that’s kind of something that needs to be very individualized because it requires 10, or 15, or 20 follow-up questions. But some of the first things that I would think about would be, first of all, what are you doing to psychologically wind down? The fact is that this is not all about nutrition. It’s not all about light hygiene. It’s also about psychology. So, is your anxiety at night driven by overthinking? And if so, what are you overthinking about? Well, if you’re ruminating on one, one, one, one, one, one thing that you cannot let go of that in your mind whether it’s day or night, then that’s probably because your mind is too rigid. It’s too stable. And the way that you moisten it up, the way that you make it more flexible and less ruminating, less stuck, is mainly by supporting methylation, and so that comes down to folate, B12, choline, betaine, and some other B vitamins. And I would say head to chrismasterjohnphd.com/methylation to dig down that rabbit hole. But maybe what you’re ruminating on is everything that you need to do the next day, in which case what you really should be doing is making a to-do list of the next day. So, I think for people whose brain doesn’t shut off at night, you really need a psychological winding-down routine, and if you don’t have one, then it’s probably, you need to look there because—there are people in the world that don’t need to psychologically wind down at night, and they’re not asking any questions about how to shut their brain off at night because their brain is shut off. So, if you’re asking the question, you need the psychological winding-down routine. And I think you start that by thinking about everything that’s on your to-do list that’s in your head and putting it on paper. You basically take in—there’s a part of your brain that is really scared you’re going to forget that thing, and it’s keeping it on the loop, and so you take that out and you put it on paper, that part of your brain says, “my job is done, the paper is doing my job for me,” and it shuts off. And then you might think of something later that, like, maybe you’re watching TV, and you’re like, “oh no, I got to do this.” I would stop watching TV, and I would go write it down because you don’t want to wait until the end of the night to write things down because then they’re in the loop while you’re trying to wind down, but at the same time, you don’t want to be ideological about the fact that you write your to-do list first because then if you do think of other things, they’re interrupting the rest of what you’re doing. So, you write everything down, then you transfer into anything that fills your mind with something else. And so, fiction is the best way to do that. What you don’t want to do is read a book about things that are related to your work. or things that are related to fixing your sleep. Fixing your sleep is a problem that you need to solve. You want to shut off the problem-solving part of your brain. So, the worst thing you could possibly do is be like, “I can’t sleep. I’m going to go read nutrition blogs about what to eat for not sleeping.” You want things that have nothing to do with that. And so, I think that TV, movies, video games, and paperback fiction are the best things to do. I would do the paperback fiction last if you have a routine because I think the active reading can make you sleepy. But at the same time, if you can only read for 20 minutes without your eyes shutting down, you might need two, three, or four hours for your brain to shut down, so you might need to stack things as, watch a movie, play a video game, finish off with a book. And so, that’s that. And then, there are so many other potential causes of anxiety that you really have to address it on a case-by-case basis, but those are the top things that I think about.