Laura G Owens ~ Writer

Humanity. Health. Happiness.

insomnia

Tried everything but you still can’t sleep? It might be adrenal fatigue.

A few years ago I had a serious emotional breakdown from severe insomnia.  

At one point it got so bad I started feeling microscopic “bugs” crawling all over my skin at night.  I’d spend an hour scanning my arms with a magnifying glass trying to find invisible insects (this is a condition called formication). Formication is the perception of bugs crawling on the skin and is caused by a number of conditions including anxiety which if you’re chronically sleep deprived — is a given. 

I thought I was going crazy. 

Most people think getting “good” sleep is simply about getting enough (6 to 8 hours). But quality matters too, that is, cycling through all five stages throughout the night. Sleep is not only restorative it’s an essential part of disease prevention. Research has found that sleep helps cleans out our daily brain garbage (beta amyloids associated with Alzheimer’s).

Without adequate zzz’s it’s nearly impossible to function at full potential the next day. We feel “weirded out,” foggy, drowsy, anxious, unfocused, cranky, quick to anger, clumsy, slow and often times depressed. And at it’s worst, sleep deprivation can be dangerous, e.g. falling asleep at the wheel.

When I started having sleep problems I obsessively poured through online articles and read numerous research studies. I spent countless hours and dollars on sleep supplements and even got tested for sleep apnea. I posted desperate questions on dozens of online forums. Nothing worked.

What I tried for my insomnia (everything) 

Google “insomnia” and you’ll see pages of articles that recommend your first line of defense should be to “practice good sleep hygiene.” 

  • Keep regular bedtime hours (irregular sleep patterns disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythm).
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet at night.
  • Avoid screens an hour or more before bedtime (disrupts melatonin production).
  • Quiet the mind and body with a warm bath and soothing sounds.

Please. It should be so easy. 

Okay for some it is. But for the hardcore insomniac these just don’t cut it. Of course good sleep hygiene is important and without it, will only make matters worse. 

Here’s what many experts suggest to combat insomnia. I tried every single one. 

  • Cut out caffeine 
  • If you can’t fall asleep go read in another room. The idea is to avoid associating your bedroom with sleep problems, thus adding to “sleep anxiety.”
  • Meditate 
  • Listen to calming music. Certain music is actually designed to move your brain into an alpha (calm) state.
  • Avoid reading or watching scary or overstimulating books and movies right before bed. 
  • Wear eye plugs and an eye mask (I still do this every night).
  • Try hypnosis with a professional or self-hypnotize yourself to sleep.  Imagine slowly walking down steps while you silently count backwards. 
  • Try EFT, emotional freedom technique (tapping)
  • Try reflexology 
  • Address peri or full menopause. Bioidentical progesterone is a  calming hormone and it may help. In some instances bioidentical estrogen may be beneficial. (Bioidentical HRT is safe when monitored by a health care practitioner). 
  • Quiet your mind by replacing racing/ruminating thoughts with soothing images (the beach, waterfalls, basically your happy place).
  • Take a warm shower.
  • Try melatonin. 1-3 mg. Melatonin by itself makes my sleep worse.  It’s a hormone produced in the brain’s pineal gland and is only secreted at night. It’s not a sedative. Melatonin works with your body’s natural circadian rhythm (internal body clock). As we age we produce less. I’m testing it right now by adding it to my current supplements. 
  • For a short period, try an anti-histamine (these made me more awake, also known as a paradoxical effect).
  • Try calming herbs (Valerian, Hops, Lemon Balm, Kava Kava, etc). 
  • Try sleeping pills (*for a brief period).
  • Get tested for sleep apnea. According to my sleep clinic doctor I move in and out of each sleep stage “perfectly,” with no breathing disruption. 

*You probably already know but sleep meds are bad news long term.  First, they don’t address the underlying problem. Moreover they disrupt natural sleep patterns, are addictive and often have nasty side effects. My Ambien hangover was mean moody and nasty. And for some people Ambien can be dangerous (sleep-walking activities like driving, etc).

Chronic insomnia made me take a few swigs at 4am

There were times when after I tried for hours to fall back asleep I just gave up and chugged a couple vodka shots. But here’s the thing, alcohol disrupts REM (dream) sleep, which in turn makes you anxious the next day. Drinking is obviously not the answer but at 3am, 4am, 5am I’d have done virtually anything to go back to sleep, legal or otherwise. 

I remember once saying to my husband something like “I wish I had a small dose of that ‘milk’ that Michael Jackson took to sleep at night.” In the most desperate and sad way I understood why he begged his doctor to shoot him up with it. MJ’s “milk” was a powerful anesthetic drug and tragically it killed him.

After months of trying everything and spending hundreds of dollars, all I had left was to pray and sob. Night after night I sat alone on my back porch staring at the sky, begging for answers.

Every morning when my daughter got ready for school I stumbled around the kitchen, forced a smile and pretended I was okay. My husband was incredibly supportive but there was nothing he could do except listen every time I broke down. During the day I tried to nap but I was either too busy with my writing work or too wired to fall asleep (the latter is a classic sign of adrenal fatigue, “tired but wired”). 

Most of my life I never had any trouble falling asleep. Within 10 minutes of reading a book I’d zonk out. Every so often I’d wake up in the middle of the night and not fall back to sleep for a couple hours.

Of course this happens to everyone.

Racing thoughts, stress, an exciting day, hot flashes, depression, chronic pain or sometimes for no apparent reason, you’re just wide awake.

I didn’t think much about it until it started to happen more frequently and then eventually I started having trouble falling asleep.

Pretty soon bedtime became my enemy.

By 8 or 9pm I could feel my anxiety and panic creep in. This stressed me out which in turn, made it even harder to fall asleep.

Here’s the thing, insomnia creates a vicious cycle.

Poor sleep = higher cortisol (the “stress” hormone). Higher cortisol = poor sleep. And round and round the nightmare goes. 

Adrenal fatigue and insomnia

After months of research I finally figured out my sleep issues were likely caused by adrenal fatigue (AF).

“Adrenal fatigue is a collection of signs and symptoms, known as a syndrome, that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level,” writes Dr. James Wilson. “Most commonly associated with intense or prolonged stress, it can also arise during or after acute or chronic infections, especially respiratory infections such as influenza, bronchitis or pneumonia. As the name suggests, its paramount symptom is fatigue that is not relieved by sleep but it is not a readily identifiable entity like measles or a growth on the end of your finger.”

See: Common symptoms of adrenal fatigue

I had nearly all the symptoms.  

I should stop right here and mention that the conventional medical community doesn’t recognize AF.  

It only recognizes adrenal insufficiency in the form of Addison’s and Cushing’s disease both which are not related to AF.

I should also point out that I have a pituitary disorder called Empty Sella Syndrome that affects my Hypothalmic-Pituitary-Axis (HPA). I was diagnosed at 19 and until a few years ago was under endocrinologists’ care. HPA issues can correlate to adrenal problems. 

But here’s the thing, when I spoke to my endocrinologist about my sleep issues, she was zero help.  Why? Because my standard endocrine bloodwork was within normal limits for my pituitary condition.  Because the doc didn’t test my DHEA level which later turned out to be rock bottom (DHEA is an adrenal hormone). Because the endocrinology community thinks AF is total bunk. 

So I left my endocrinologist and went to a highly respected holistic MD., Dr. Sangeeta Pati who specializes in restorative medicine. Dr. Pati confirmed that I did indeed have AF, but that it wasn’t mild as I suspected; it was severe. 

She treated my AF by suggesting immediate lifestyle changes (naps when possible etc.). She started me on bioidentical DHEA (and other bioidentical hormones), magnesium and a daily dash of Premier pink Himalayan salt in a glass of water. I also continued to take adrenal-supportive supplements I found through Dr. James Wilson’s website and Kavinace Ultra PM for sleep (more about both below). 

If you suspect you have AF (take this online questionnare) you have two options: 

    1. Listen to your doctor who will inevitably tell you, “There’s no such diagnosis. The Endocrinology Society doesn’t recognize it. It’s a made-up condition that preys on the unsuspecting in order to make money.”

      OR…..

       

    2. Find a health care practitioner who understands AF and takes it seriously.

       

But here’s the thing, adrenal fatigue treatment finally got me to sleep — my primary doctor and endocrinologist did not.

Sadly many people who suffer with AF are told there’s nothing clinically wrong with them, that like most Americans they’re simply overworked, tired, burnt out and stressed.

“Get some rest, stop burning the candle at both ends,” is the often the extent of insomnia medical advice. Or the doctor writes a prescription for sleeping pills, anti-depressants and/or anti-anxiety meds. All fine short term, but these won’t get to the root of your insomnia. 

Your insomnia may in fact be due to a condition that has nothing to do with AF. Menopause. Chronic pain. REM disorder. Your primary care doctor may order tests and refer you to a specialist to rule out certain conditions. But alternatively, your symptoms may point directly to AF. 

Just don’t rule it out even if your doctors automatically do. 

It’s real. Ask Dr Wilson. Dr. Lam. Dr. Northrup.

And, please please please don’t fall for the myth that “as we age we need less sleep.” Or what your friends tell you, that “as we age we don’t sleep as well and that’s just the way it is” No. As we age we still need 6-8 hours of quality sleep.  

What I did once when I realized I had adrenal fatigue

I found a website called Integrative Psychiatry that specializes in neuro-cognitive tests and sells supplements that addresses such issues. I immediately ordered the Adrenal Stress Index test.

Almost all my results were abnormal.

For a small fee I consulted with the company’s physician’s assistant over the phone. From my results she suspected I had adrenal fatigue so she told me I needed to address a number of issues that were most likely causing my insomnia.

First, gluten sensitivity.

Food sensitivities can contribute to insomnia as a result of gut inflammation and histamine. Inflammation in the body alerts the adrenals, “warning, warning something is wrong!” and bam, cortisol increases. 

And of course — stress.

Stress of any kind (good or bad) raises cortisol. But cortisol is not the enemy. We need it. It reduces inflammation.  Cortisol levels naturally go up and down with our circadian rhythm. Cortisol is also the famous fight or flight hormone we’ve relied on in our evolution to stay alert to danger, and so, to survive. “Run a tiger is coming!”

Of course we’re no longer running from tigers.

Today our “tiger” is the challenge of day to day living. “It’s time for bed but I have a business report to finish, kids to pick up, dishes to clean, emails to answer, texts to respond to, bills to juggle, persistent pain, aging parents who need me, social media to attend to (e.g. fear of missing out)…”

When something stressful happens (say a car cuts you off) your body immediately produces adrenaline. Afterward cortisol rises. As I mentioned cortisol naturally ebbs and flows.  But if you’re chronically stressed your cortisol level may never come down. So while you should be getting drowsy around 9 or 10pm you’re wide awake staring at the ceiling. Or you fall asleep but wake up because your cortisol spikes.

Eventually your adrenal glands simply can’t keep up with the demand for cortisol and your levels begin to drop. You move from “wired but tired” (high cortisol) to so exhausted (low cortisol) you can barely get out of bed in the morning.

How you feel depends on where you are within the four phases of adrenal fatigue.  Low or high cortisol disrupts sleep. 

Important: You can’t recover from adrenal fatigue without regular quality sleep. And you can’t sleep when you have adrenal fatigue. Insomnia and adrenal fatigue are intertwined. 

The physician’s assistant with NeuroScience suggested I take three products.  Kavinace and Ultra Kavinace PM for sleep  (no longer available, see below) and Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Rebuilder

Both Kavinace supplements contain phenibut (listed on the label as  4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid).

Phenibut works with the brain’s GABA receptors. GABA and other neurotransmitters play a key role to reduce anxiety and promote sleep. Phenibut unlike straight GABA,  effectively crosses the challenge of the blood-brain-barrier.

GABA is the brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter. Its main role is to calm the central nervous system by neutralizing the effects of glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter. 

Every night before bed I took:

Not only did this work, but I had zero “hangover” (drowsy) effect the next day. When I woke up in the middle of the night I took one or two Kavinace and one Adrenal Rebuilder. Fifteen to 30 minutes later I was fast asleep until the next morning. 

*It’s recommended people limit phenibut use to two to three times a week and take a “vacation” (come off it for a period of time). 

FDA issues warning letter. Kavinace and Ultra Kavinace are no longer available. 

The FDA recently issued a warning letter to companies who sell supplements that contain phenibut. The warning is regarding labeling phenibut or phenibut formulation as a “dietary supplement” vs. what it actually is, a nootropic.

Last week I called NeuroScience, the company that makes Kavinace supplements. The representative told me they’re reformulating all Kavinace products for release in July 2019.

Update: 7/23/19. I spoke to a rep from the company. The Kavinace reformulation will be released within a week or so after undergoing internal quality control. It will be an emulsion (thick liquid) and will not contain phenibut. It will however, work with the GABA (calming) pathways in the brain.

The replacements will not however, contain phenibut (labeled as 4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid). This is a major disappointment because unlike many GABA agonists, phenibut effectively crosses the challenging blood-brain-barrier. 

Alternatives to Kavinace and Kavinace Ultra PM. This is what I tested.

I seriously panicked when I found out Kavinace products were pulled from the market. So I did some research and found this article by Dr. Davidson. She recommends two supplements called Cerevive and PharmaGaba. 

I contacted Dr. Davidson and she suggested people who have severe sleep issues  “layer” (take both) supplements at the same time.  

Please bear in mind that every-body and brain and sleep challenge is unique. If something doesn’t work for me, it might work for you.

Be sure to read both positive and negative Amazon product reviews.  

So, as I mentioned except for a few years ago, I generally don’t have problems falling asleep. My issue is waking up too early or falling back to sleep (sleep maintenance due to adrenal fatigue). 

Regardless of which sleep supplement I decide to test, I always take the following before bed:

~ One capsule of prescribed bioidentical progesterone (compounded by a verified compounding pharmacist).

~ One tablet of Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Rebuilder 

~ Two 500mg capsules of Pure Encapsulations tryptophan (Pure Encapsulations is a stellar brand).

~ Three sprays Ancient Minerals magnesium applied topically to my arms or legs (and/or 2 capsules of Pure Encapsulations magnesium glycinate).

This is what I’ve tried so far (as of 6/18/19):

X CereVive – 2 capsules. Didn’t work. I was already a bit skeptical because this product while impressive with a number of sleep-promoting ingredients, has tyrosine. Tyrosine is an amino acid involved in the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved with drive and motivation (daytime behaviors). When I contacted Dr. Davidson she told me CereVive works well as a sleep-aid for many of her patients.  She suggested if I can tolerate it to gradually increase to 4 capsules before bedtime. No thank you! Maybe it’s a phenomenal daytime mood-booster but it’s not right for me as a sleep aid.

X Thorne Pharma Gaba – 1 capsule 250 mg. Didn’t work. I woke up after a few hours and even after I added two 100mg of Natural Factors chewable Pharma Gaba I couldn’t fall back to sleep.  I like that Natural Factors is chewable (works faster) and comes in 100mg which allows you to start low and add more in the middle of the night. 

Both CereVive and Pharma Gaba. Didn’t work. This combo has a boatload of sleep-promoting ingredients.  GABA, L-theanine, 5-HTP, as well as a number of vitamins and minerals to improve the synthesis of the neurotransmitters. This goes to show you, more is necessarily better. Getting to the root cause of your insomnia is.  In case you’re interested: “What is Gaba vs l-theanine?”

NeuroScience Alpha Gaba PM (AGPM) –  2 capsules. Pretty good. This is NeuroScience’s current replacement for Kavinace products. The first time I took it I woke up a few hours later. But, I tried this before I got back on my adrenal fatigue protocol. After I started taking Dr. Wilson’s adrenal fatigue vitamins three times a day for several days, I found that AGPM worked better.  Not as well as Kavinace Ultra PM (oh how I miss you) but pretty good.

(I recently called NeuroScience and told the (very helpful) rep that their new sleep formula Alpha Gaba PM didn’t (initially) work very well. She told me, “Most people have found it takes about 2 weeks to work.”)

AGPM is an impressive formula. It contains 400 mg of l-theanine (a pretty hefty dosage), 3 mg of melatonin, and a proprietary blend of the herbs valerian, lemon balm and 5-HTP.  5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin, a sleep/mood neurotransmitter. 

So why didn’t these sleep supplements work as well as I hoped?

  1. Not enough of the active ingredient (GABA, l-theanine) is penetrating the blood-brain-barrier and/or they’re missing critical co-factors that increase bioavailability. 
  2. These sleep supplements don’t directly address my underlying issue, adrenal fatigue. 

*If you have adrenal fatigue it’s essential you support your adrenal glands all day long, every day. You can’t simply take herbs or supplements that boost the neurotransmitters GABA and serotonin at night and hope to avoid a 3am cortisol spike (or nighttime hypogylcemia which will wake you up. Hypoglycemia and AF are related). 

When I started testing these new supplements first night I woke up in the middle of the night. I took more supplements and read a book for about two hours. Nothing.

The more anxious I got, the more awake I felt (cortisol!). Frustrated I just sat on my porch with my head in my hands with flashbacks of my horrible insomnia days.  I finally fell asleep after taking 1mg of Klonipin prescribed by my holistic MD to use strictly for sleep emergencies (benzodiazepine drugs such as Klonipin are highly addictive and build tolerance quickly). 

So what did work? 

Addressing my adrenal fatigue. I was so disappointed the new supplements didn’t work. I sat down and thought about what was probably going on, what I’ve learned after five years of researching sleep. Adrenal fatigue.

I was already extremely anxious because my perfect Kavinace Ultra PM was pulled off the market. Then when I tried new sleep supplements and none of them worked, I got more anxious.  You know the deal by now, more anxious = higher cortisol = crappy sleep.

What I did to get back to sleep:   

  1. On day one I followed Dr. Wilson’s mild adrenal fatigue recovery protocol, although I adapted it a bit: 
    ~ 1 tablet Adrenal Rebuilder. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime.
    ~ 1 tablet Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Vitamin C. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.  
    ~ 1 tablet Dr. Wilson’s Super Adrenal Stress Formula. Breakfast, lunch.      dinner. 
    ~ 10 drops in water of Dr. Wilson’s Herbal HPA breakfast and dinner. 
  2. At bedtime I took one 200mg soft gel of Sports Research L-Theanine  (I only use Suntheanine™ l-theanine). 
  3. As always I took my usual biodentical progesterone, tryptophan and topical magnesium.

The results?

I went to bed at 10:30pm. I woke up at briefly at 5:30am, took one Adrenal Rebuilder, rolled over and went back to sleep until 7:30am. I couldn’t believe it, I almost cried! 

So supporting my adrenal glands throughout the day stopped the middle-of-night cortisol spike. 

Gaba Complex  Worked. Recently someone responded to this post that  Gaba Complex works very well for her sleep issues. But Gaba Complex has phenibut (pulled by the FDA but still available on Amazon as of this writing). I ordered a bottle and tried it. I slept well but was drowsy the next day.  So the next time I took one capsule instead of the recommended two. I woke up in the middle of the night and took one more capsule along with one Adrenal Rebuilder. I slept okay, not fully awake, but not fast asleep either. 

When I called the company that makes Gaba Complex, Natural Creations, I asked a very informative gentleman named Bill how much phenibut Gaba Complex contains (I want to be careful). 

He told me 400mg which surprised me. I expected higher. Kavinace Ultra PM contains 625mg with zero hangover effect the next day. Bill explained that it’s not just how much GABA agonist a supplement contains, it’s also the combination of co-factors that help GABA work (penetrate the blood-brain-barrier). 

(Natural Creations, like NeuroScience, is in the process of reformulating their GABA Complex.) 

So that’s my journey. Treating adrenal fatigue to cure my insomnia. It’s a process. 

And truth be told, as someone who works out rigorously, stays up too late on the weekends and loves her wine (all of the above are taboo during adrenal fatigue treatment), some of my sleep issues are a direct result of my own behaviors, over and beyond my pituitary disorder. 

I’m still in the process of testing various sleep supplements that will keep me asleep for at least 7 hours.  But most importantly I’m back to treating my adrenal fatigue. 

Please let me know what’s working for you. 

Wishing you betters zzz’s, more restful days and great joy. 

Laura

Resources: 

Integrative Psychiatry  Provides at home testing, consultation by a nurse practitioner and products. 

ZRT Labs Offers home test kits (I strongly recommend working with a health practitioner to interpret results and design a treatment plan). 

NeuroScience NeuroScience offers proprietary blends of amino acids designed specifically to provide precursors for nervous system molecules called neurotransmitters.  7/23/19. I spoke to a rep from the company. Their Kavinace reformulation will be released within a week or so after undergoing internal quality control. It will not contain phenibut, but it will work with the GABA (calming) pathways in the brain.

Find a health practitioner who understands and treats adrenal fatigue

Supplements I mentioned:

Adrenal:

Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Rebuilder 

Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Vitamin C 

Dr. Wilson’s Super Adrenal Stress Formula  Dr. Wilson’s Herbal HPA

Pure Encapsulations tryptophan

Pure Encapsulations magnesium glycinate

Ancient Minerals magnesium

Premier pink Himalayan salt

Sleep:

Alpha Gaba PM 

Gaba Complex 

CereVive

Thorne Pharma Gaba

Natural Factors chewable Pharma Gaba

L-Theanine(Suntheanine™) 

Sleep Time 

Phenibut by LiftMode

More: New York Times: Insomnia Can Kill You 

                                           Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Without Drugs

 

Disclaimer: Please note I don’t recommend any products or service I haven’t  personally tried or that receive positive reviews from Amazon. Laura-Owens.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to [insert the applicable site name (amazon.com or whatever).

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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43 Comments

  1. I really liked the article on Mind Over Matters. It helped me understand some things as I was having great difficulty with the similar things you mentioned with sleep. I am trying the regiment that is similar to what my naturolpathic recommended that you outlined. I would love to have a conversation with you regarding this if possible.

    Thanks,
    Suzanne

  2. P Jones

    https://psychonautwiki.org/wiki/Phenibut#Cognitive_effects

    Actually you really shouldn’t be relying on it every day. Taking it at the recommended dose written by Kavinace is fine for a few days, but it will start to down-regulation your GABA receptors as easily as benzodiazepines can. It can cause a lot of extremely serious cognitive side effects in large or overly prolonged doses.

    I don’t agree with everything this guys says, but he makes some good, easily-digested points: https://corpina.com/positive-negative-side-effects-phenibut/

    • Yes tolerance and other negative side effects could be an issue. I’m hoping that because I only take 1 Ultra Kavinace (sleep formula) OR 2 Kavinace every evening to sleep I’m not at risk.

  3. Rebecca

    This article was either written about me or by me!! Its my story to a “T”. Including the crawling skin sensation. I never had sleep issues until I had vertigo and now it has become and 8 month battle for sleep. I did everything you did too. Tried it all. Even completed the Cleveland Clinic sleep study program. Worthless, I was a good sleeper for 15 years. I am currently using a med and unisom. Not good but have to get some sleep somehow until I work this out. I suspect my adrenals for sure. I have a constant wakeup at 230 am. Been working on my liver health for years. I am only hoping thru diet, rest and supplements that I can turn my sleep around before Christmas! Any suggestions for what you did for you adrenal health? I am currently on a 1/4 grain NDT and had a 4 point saliva test done. I am very low am and very low noon. Thanks again for sharing your story.

    • Rebecca

      I also have deep anxiety tied to my insomnia. Either the insomnia causes it or the anxiety causes the insomnia…vicious cycle!

      • It’s absolutely a vicious cycle! Anxiety, stress, increases cortisol. Lack of sleep increases cortisol and anxiety. Sleep is restorative to the mind and body. I literally had a nervous break down from months of poor sleep due to adrenal fatigue. Drove me to my knees sobbing. But I got better (see my next response to you).
        Laura

    • Hi Rebecca,

      Recovering from severe adrenal fatigue and related insomnia (horrible!!) was a process. My skin crawling was a nightmare. It happened after months of insomnia so I think it was related to “sleep anxiety.” My holistic MD helped me recover. I was tested for gluten insensitivity (I am).

      My regime was pretty intensive for a while but it worked.

      The first thing is to GET sleep which repairs the adrenals. Sounds like you are getting sleep with meds which gets the job done but doesn’t address underlying causes. With adrenal fatigue the natural high – low cortisol cycle gets off kilter, meaning, you are either too high at night when you should be low, or low at points during the day and morning when your cortisol should naturally rise. But during adrenal fatigue stages 1-4, you move from high cortisol to very low. During stage 3/4 the adrenal glands can no longer keep up with cortisol production. They’re burnt out and so are you.

      I went on l mg Klonapin for a week to sleep and to lower my cortisol at night (only take Klonipin SHORT term it’s VERY addictive and a horrible drug). Then I stopped Klonapin and took Kavinace at night, Adrenal Rebuilder by Dr. Wilson 6x a day, bioidentical DHEA cream (compounded) to get my low DHEA up — and lots of good magnesium (Ancient Minerals spray AND Pure Encapsulations capsules). I stopped all gluten. Food sensitivity inflames the gut. An inflamed gut alerts the adrenals and creates histamine, histamine will keep you awake because besides reducing inflammation (a good thing) it also acts as an excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain.

      I’ve done many saliva tests on my own but my doctor orders blood.

      Find a holistic doc who KNOWS adrenal fatigue (the four stages) and you’ll get better over time. Rest, low key exercise, meditative practices (I have no patience), etc are key to recovery. SELF-CARE.

      I found that the protocol for thyroid NDT (increasing granules gradually) made my Afatigue WORSE. Dr Wilson is an expert on AF, look him up.

      Now I take one Adrenal Rebuilder at night, magnesium, Ultra Kavinace and tryptophan capsules (Pure Encapsulations. I only take stellar brands). Most nights I sleep well. If I wake in the middle of the night I take another U Kavinace/tryptophan or Kavinace and ARebuild. It works.

      Good luck! You will definitely get better. The key is to figure out what’s causing your insomnia. It’s often a number of interrelated issues rather than a single culprit.

      AFatigue is rarely diagnosed by conventional docs nor is food sensitivity (which will affect sleep, including consuming histamine-loaded foods which for some people is problematic. So if I consume lots of high histamine foods (aged cheese, red wine, soy, etc, I take Histame to break down excess histamine).

      All the best,
      Laura

  4. Mandy

    How much magnesium do you take with the Kavinace PM? I have used Kavinace with Kavinace pm to sleep. Sometimes it works and sometimes not. I suffer from the anxiety you talk about when I go to bed, and most often average 3-5 hrs sleep. My holistic doctor gave me Xymogen optimag neuro, which is a strong magnesium formula.

    • Mandy

      I was also wondering what bioidentical progesterone you were using?

      • Hi Mandy,

        I use a compounded bioidentical progesterone from a local pharmacist. Capsules, 275mg. My dosing is pretty high. With any kind of hormone replacement you need to do trial and error on dosing to determine what’s optimal for you. How you know is by your symptoms. When my doc went higher, I was too sleepy the next morning. My holistic MD also requires a complete blood workup every 6 months to determine if my levels of hormones (and a long list of other measures) are optimal.

        All the best,
        Laura

    • Hi,

      My doctor and I are sticklers for using only quality brands.

      She put me on Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Glycinate capsules and Ancient Minerals magnesium spray. She also likes MD Prescriptives magnesium. I play around with dosing because too much causes loose bowels, although Magnesium Glycinate causes fewer issues. I generally apply six sprays of the magnesium oil per day, 2 in the afternoon and 3 at night. I found my recent bottle was quite strong for some reason (I think it’s more concentrated than what I WAS using) so I stopped my Pure Encapsulations capsules. I think my doc really wants me on both the oil and the capsules so I’ll likely reduce the mag spray to 2 a day, and start taking 1-3 capsules of the mag at night.

      Start with quality brands. It’s worth the money. Start dosing slowly and increase to what’s referred to as “bowel tolerance” (the amount you can take without loose bowels. You may have adrenal fatigue. You might want to ask your holistic doc to test your DHEA and cortisol levels.

      I hope this helps. I know how hard it is to suffer through insomnia. It’s just hell.
      Laura

  5. diana

    Insane… I have the same thing.. i am under the care of a ND. But recently the kavinance is hurting me.. we are trying to figure out what i should take.. I love kavinance but did you happen to become “bitchy” REALLY irritable or have pain by your liver? i have major anxiety (in my upper diaphragm) the day after I take it for up to two days.. I didn’t notice it till I stopped taking it (i was in pain and trying to figure out what was causing it) but then i noticed my sleep started to not be as deep.. i.e. waking up 3 or more times a night..

    I checked out the website.. i think i read his book about adrenal fatigue..

    love the post

    • Hi Diana

      Hmmm, it’s odd that Kavinace caused pain and disrupted sleep.

      I take ULTRA Kavinace before bed, along with tryptophan, bioidentical progesterone, a stellar magnesium, and Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Rebuilder. Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night I’ll add 1-2 Kavinace. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. I don’t recall any pain or irritability the next day. I took Ambien ONCE and was royally bitchy the next day. Horrible horrible drug). Does your doctor have any theories on why the Kavinace caused your reaction? I know if your neurotransmitters are out of balance, too much GABA (Kavinace) or too much serotonin (anti-depressants, 5 HTP, tryptophan) you’ll have issues.

      I’ve figured out a handful of causes for my middle of the night wakings. Perhaps this will help you.

      Adrenal fatigue of course (either too low or too high cortisol. If it’s too high, I get that wired but tired anxious feeling), low blood sugar (caused directly by adrenal fatigue, a little protein and a healthy fat before bed helps, e.g. peanut butter), excessive high histamine foods, red wine, aged cheeses, tomato sauces(I take Histame). Histamine-related insomnia is quite obscure, but it’s a real thing. If you don’t happen to have enough DAO enzyme to break down the naturally occurring histamine in foods, you might get away with it for a while, but eventually the “histamine bucket” tips over and you get reactions. Histamine is among other things, neuroexcitatory, overexcites the brain. Sinus migraines also wake me up and keep me up (I take Advil plus the sleep supplements). Gluten sensitivity is another cause. Food allergies as well. The brain-gut connection is very very powerful. When your gut is irritated, inflammation alerts the adrenals. Getting your gut in order is crucial.

      When I took an adrenal fatigue saliva test many years ago, gluten sensitivity was one of the measures. I showed up positive and stopped gluten. I cheat (a little) once in a while but take enzymes to help.

      Hope this helps,
      Laura

  6. Rebecca

    Hello! This post has really offered some insightful information. I wondered if i could contact you personally?

  7. Joni

    Hi Laura, Neuroscience has stopped manufacturing kavinace ultra pm (actually all kavinace products) due to FDA orders related to Phenibut. I’m a little worried because I’ve been taking it for 2 years and I would say I’ve developed somewhat of a tolerance, although it’s the best supplement I’ve ever found for better sleep…and I’m sad to see it go. What makes me nervous is that over the last few days I’ve read some horror stories about withdrawl symptoms people are having when stopping kavinace, although I’m not sure how much they have been taking. I didn’t realize there was anything addictive in kavinace when I started taking it. Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated. Your sleep story sounds exactly like mine. I came across your article while researching kavinace…:)

  8. Robin

    I can relate to all this even the sinus migraines. Finally found a Holistic MD and made an appointment for Tuesday. Super expensive but I have to get better. Walking dead this last year!

  9. Hi Laura,
    I have been a Kaviance Ultra PM user for about 5 or 6 years now. I used to take Ambien, but wanted to not rely on a prescription drug. The PM seemed to work about 90-95% of the time. I have been purchasing it from various sites i.e. Ebay and other “pharmaceutical” sites over the years. Went to purchase my next bottle and it seems that it is being discontinued by the manufacturer Neuroscience and being replace by another product made by them called “Alpha GABA PM”. Have you heard any feedback on this product yet?

    • Hi
      I just found out that Kavinace is temporarily discontinued (due to the FDA’s labeling criteria. Kavinace doesn’t qualify as a “dietary supplement”). I haven’t tried Alpha Gaba PM but plan to order it. I have a bottle of Ultra Kavinace and a few Kavinace capsules left I plan to use up (for sleep). I’m very concerned about not having access to the phenibut used in both my NeuroScience products. It’s so effective because it crosses the blood-brain-barrier. Other GABA supplements supposedly do not. I also found a couple of other products that might work that I ordered. From this article: https://progressyourhealth.com/alternative-to-kavinace/ CereVive and PharmaGaba.

      Good luck and please let me know what works for you!

      Laura

  10. Casey

    I’m so curious to hear an update now that Phenibut has been taken off the shelves. I was in exactly your position: being driven mad by so little sleep. Two Kavinase at bedtime along with a slow release melatonin has saved me; I’m not suffering from adrenal fatigue any longer. My mood is regulated, I don’t experience anger or extreme lows like I did, my anxiety has decreased. And now I find myself rationing my last bottle of Kavinace because I’m just devastated it’s unavailable now. How are you adjusting your regimen? I’m curious if you know of any alternatives or if you’ve discussed with your Dr? My ND has me testing out Pure Encap. tryptophan now, hoping that it will do. Please update if you have the chance!

    • Hi

      I JUST found out that Kavinace is temporarily discontinued (due to the FDA’s labeling criteria. Kavinace doesn’t qualify as a “dietary supplement”). NeuroScience is suggesting instead, Alpha Gaba which I plan to order. I still have a bottle of Ultra Kavinace and a few Kavinace capsules left I plan to use up (for sleep). I’m very concerned about not having access to the phenibut used in both NeuroScience products. It’s so effective because it crosses the blood-brain-barrier. Other GABA supplements supposedly do not. I also found a couple of other products that might work that I ordered. From this article: https://progressyourhealth.com/alternative-to-kavinace/ CereVive and PharmaGaba.

      Re: Pure Encapsulations tryptophan. I use that as well and it’s very very good. I can’t say by itself it keeps me asleep, only in combo with Ultra Kavinace. I take 2 a night. Sometimes 3. I’ve never found that melatonin on its own works well for me. Melatonin is not a sedative, it’s a hormone our body naturally produces from the pineal gland in the evening. It’s the “signaling” hormone for us to get tired. Its job is to regulate our natural circadian rhythm which is why it works so well for jet leg (but not necessarily for sleep unless you’re low in melatonin). 5-HTP and tryptophan are both precursors to melatonin. Meaning if you take either, it will convert to melatonin.

      Good luck and please let me know what works for you! Laura

      Laura

  11. Melanie

    HI Laura, I stopped sleeping all of a sudden one night in 1996. I’ve battled since then. I’ve done sleep studies and take sleep meds, which keep increasing. I went off of gluten for a few years but it didn’t seem to make a difference. I’m off it now again for the most part for a few months. I live in Minneapolis. Is there anyone you could recommend in terms of Dr? Also, do you know if Kavinace is going to be available again soon? I heard about it from my Dr and would like to try it.

    • Hi

      I definitely sympathize. I’ve worked on my sleep for 10 years. Kavinace and Ultra Kavinance saved me (and getting off gluten, balancing my cortisol via an aggressive adrenal fatigue regime).

      I just found out that Kavinace is temporarily discontinued (due to the FDA’s labeling criteria. Kavinace doesn’t qualify as a “dietary supplement”). I haven’t tried Neuroscience’s replacement, Alpha Gaba PM but plan to order it. I have a bottle of Ultra Kavinace and a few Kavinace capsules left I plan to use up (for sleep). I’m very concerned about not having access to the phenibut used in both my NeuroScience products. It’s so effective because it crosses the blood-brain-barrier. Other GABA supplements supposedly do not. I also found a couple of other products that might work that I ordered. From this article: https://progressyourhealth.com/alternative-to-kavinace/ CereVive and PharmaGaba.

      Pure Encapsulations tryptophan is very good (elevates serotonin, a sleep/mood hormone). Some people have success with melatonin. I do not. Melatonin is not a sedative, it’s a hormone our body naturally produces from the pineal gland in the evening. It’s the “signaling” hormone for us to get tired. Its job is to regulate our natural circadian rhythm which is why it works so well for jet leg (but not necessarily for sleep unless you’re low in melatonin). 5-HTP and tryptophan are both precursors to melatonin. Meaning if you take either, it will convert to melatonin.

      Many people like herbs, e.g. Valerian, Lemon Balm etc. I find them too weak. The amino acid L-theanine is helpful to increase GABA. The key to solving insomnia is to find out the exact cause. Circadian issues, melatonin is good. High cortisol? GABA, anything that increases GABA in the brain. Low cortisol, requires a different regime. Adrenal rebuilders. My adrenal fatigue was the culprit. I had to go off gluten, lower my cortisol. Keep regular sleep hours (I don’t do that well).

      Good luck and please let me know what works for you!

      Laura

  12. Angelique

    Kavinace has been taken off the market any alternative suggestions? It was the only thing that helped my husbands insomnia.

    • Hi

      I just found out that Kavinace is temporarily discontinued (due to the FDA’s labeling criteria. Kavinace doesn’t qualify as a “dietary supplement”). I haven’t tried Neuroscience’s replacement, Alpha Gaba PM but plan to order it. I have a bottle of Ultra Kavinace and a few Kavinace capsules left I plan to use up (for sleep). I’m very concerned about not having access to the phenibut used in both my NeuroScience products. It’s so effective because it crosses the blood-brain-barrier. Other GABA supplements supposedly do not. I also found a couple of other products that might work that I ordered. From this article: https://progressyourhealth.com/alternative-to-kavinace/ CereVive and PharmaGaba.

      Pure Encapsulations tryptophan is very good (elevates serotonin, a sleep/mood hormone). Some people have success with melatonin. I do not. Melatonin is not a sedative, it’s a hormone our body naturally produces from the pineal gland in the evening. It’s the “signaling” hormone for us to get tired. Its job is to regulate our natural circadian rhythm which is why it works so well for jet leg (but not necessarily for sleep unless you’re low in melatonin). 5-HTP and tryptophan are both precursors to melatonin. Meaning if you take either, it will convert to melatonin.

      Many people like herbs, e.g. Valerian, Lemon Balm etc. I find them too weak. The amino acid L-theanine is helpful to increase GABA. The key to solving insomnia is to find out the exact cause. Circadian issues, melatonin is good. High cortisol? GABA, anything that increases GABA in the brain. Low cortisol, requires a different regime. Adrenal rebuilders. My adrenal fatigue was the culprit. I had to go off gluten, lower my cortisol. Keep regular sleep hours (I don’t do that well).

      Good luck and please let me know what works for your husband.

      Laura

  13. Sarah W

    Hi Laura,

    Your story totally resonates with mine. I’ve struggled with sleep issues for 30 years and hit a major wall a few years ago which I have slowly come out of. I’ve used Kavinace for years and had major anxiety yesterday when I read its been discontinued. I found the article from Progress Your Health and curious if you have tried the supplements the recommend and whether they work? And how have you been using AlphaGaba PM. Its so refreshing to read about people like you that have the same issues as me, it stops me from going crazy! Thank you.

    • Hi Sarah

      I certainly relate! I panicked too when I found out I can no longer buy Ultra Kavinace PM and Kavinace. They’ve been a sleep Godsend. diud try the Cerevive and Gaba I mentioned in my article, neither worked for sleep onset or maintenance. I tried Alpha Gaba PM and I still woke at 3am with no relief. I tend to fall asleep quickly so will try taking the AGPM at 3am instead of at bedtime. Keep in touch please and let me know what works for you. All the best, Laura

  14. Nancy Klein

    GABA Complex by Natural Creations is still available, as far as I know, in the USA. It contains taurine and phenibut, as Kavinace does, among other substances. In my experience it is as effective as Kavinace, although Kavinace Ultra is somewhat more effective than either. I will taper if necessary but have enough, between Kavinace and GABA Complex and Phenitropic, a phenibut only product, to last almost a hear. I do understand that phenibut is dangerous for some, especially in large doses, but other than a benzodiazepine, which I take sparingly, it is by far the most helpful remedy for sleep maintenance insomnia. I have stopped it for short periods without ill effects other than poor sleep, no worse than before taking it.

    • Hi Nancy

      Thank you for your response. I ordered Gaba Complex but unfortunately Phenitropic isn’t available. The supplements I’ve tried so far have not worked. CereVive, Gaba (by Thorne and Natual Factors), L-theanine and Alpha GABA PM which is NeuroSciences replacement. Phenibut is the key ingredient that works in Ultra Kavinace and I never had to up the dosage. I’m working on getting my adrenal glands stronger (the cause of my sleep issues) and will try Gaba Complex. I fall asleep quickly but wake at 3am. I appreciate your feedback!

      Laura

  15. Sarah

    Hi Laura, I tried the Cerevive and Gaba last night for the first time and nothing .. I didnt get one wink of sleep. I feel my anxiety increasing! I’ve just ordered the AGPM. My problem is that when I know something works and I then have to switch my silly brain starts going crazy thinking ‘what if it doesnt work and I go back to the dark place’. My problem is getting to sleep which is what Kavinace helped me with. I wish there was no such thing as insomnia, it sucks,

    • Hi Sarah

      I know EXACTLY what you mean! I was so worried about trying new supplements after successfully using Kavinace Ultra PM for so long I got super anxious. Did you specifically try the Gaba Complex I recommend in my post? It has phenibut (which Kavinace also has).

      I JUST found another that contains phenibut, Sleep Time by Nutritional Frontiers. Exact same ingredients as GC but with melatonin, and a higher dosage of phenibut. It worked ok, I had to take one of my last remaining Kavinace at 3am 🙁 to get back to sleep. The thing is these phenibut supplements are ALL supposed to be pulled from the market, per the FDA. The FDA warning is NOT about safety, it’s about labeling. Although phenibut can build tolerance so users are supposed to only take it 1-3x a week.

      Anyway, to your point, I’m 100% sure sleep anxiety (worry about getting to sleep) adds to the problem. Stress raises cortisol which disrupts sleep. I mean when I went to a sleep lab I told the doc I had to have a sleep med to sleep. He approved one that wouldn’t affect the results. And in the middle of the night I woke up to go to the restroom. I told the nurse “I wasn’t sleeping” and she said, “yes you were, I was watching your EKG.” I was LITERALLY convinced I wasn’t sleeping. That’s what chronic insomnia did to me, convinced me I no longer had the ability to sleep (which of course I do, and so do you).

      You CAN and WILL conquer this, as long as you know what’s causing the issue. I long ago gave up worrying about taking supplements to sleep. I have a pituitary disorder which contributes to my adrenal fatigue and sleep issues.

      Please stay in touch and keep in mind the company rep told me AGPM takes some time work, unfortunately. About 2 weeks.
      The company LiftMode also sells phenibut on its own. I’m about to add the link to my article.

      All the best,
      Laura

      • Sarah

        I have just ordered the Gaba Complex and will order the Sleep Time by Nutritional Frontiers. I live in the Middle East so frustratingly I have to wait longer to receive everything. I have been tested for all sorts of things over the years but nothing appears to be affecting my sleep. Unf I do have to take meds as well. The Kavinace was helping me to get to sleep. Because of my sleepless night this week it sets off a cycle where my sleep becomes horrendous and the only way I can get back on track is to take xanax over a couple of days, which I loathe taking.

        • Sarah

          When Kavinace comes back on the market do you know if it will still contain Phenibut but labelled appropriately?

        • Hi Sarah

          You might want to look into adrenal fatigue. It’s more common than you might think, although as I mention in my article, conventional medicine only recognizes Addison’s and Cushing’s. It’s a good idea to break the high cortisol cycle by whatever med works for one or two nights.

          To answer your question, unfortunately when I asked the rep at NeuroScience, she told me that the new formulation will NOT contain phenibut (whicn means other phenibut products will be banned). It’s because phenibut is not a “dietary supplement” rather it’s a nootropic (changes cognition/mood). I suspect it might move to script only 🙁

          I’ve also discovered something called histamine intolerance which can affect sleep. Look it up. Histame supplement may help that.

          All the best,
          Laura

          Laura

  16. Nancy

    Laura, if you have time, could you please let me know the following.

    – Does Gaba Complex have 400 mg of phenibut in each capsule or in each dose of two?
    – Do you know how much phenibut is in each regular Kavinace capsule? My guess is 100 or 150 mg. A few years ago Kavinace came in a chewable form, phenibut only, 200 mg per chew, recommended dose not to exceed 3 a day. My guess is based on having read somewhere that six Kavinace a day is the limit. I am trying to taper phenibut by using my remaining Phenitropic, 300 mg a capsule.

    I thank you for this site. You are one of the few who makes sense in writing about insomnia and one of the few who recognize that all remedies do not affect all of us in the same way. I tried the adrenal fatigue questionnaire on Dr. Wilson’s site but that does not seem to be my problem. Not losing hope yet!

    • Hi Nancy,

      I tried calling the company to ask about Gaba Complex but no one answered. I assume because the dosage is 2 capsules, that it contains 400mg for both, thus 200mg each. Kavinace, when I called and asked, contains 225mg. Ultra Kavinace, 1 capsule, contains 625mg which is likely why it works so well!

      I appreciate your lovely feedback. Insomnia can be complex, more than people realize. Some people have trouble sleeping because of obscure issues like REM sleep disorder, or histamine intolerance (this affects me as well, foods that are high in histamine, so I take Histame when I consume these foods).

      I slept horribly last night (I took Alpha PM because I try to rotate off the phenibut supplements) and I’m not sure why, more than likely adrenal related. It’s a crapshoot some nights, but it is important to get to the source of insomnia. Hormone imbalance is often a contributing factor.

      No don’t lose hope! You will solve this! I wish you all the best.
      Laura

      • Nancy

        Thank you very much, Laura. this is most helpful in planning the taper, i.e., when I finish the Phenitropic, 300 mg phenibut, I can use one Kavinace or one Gaba Complex for c. 200 while waiting to try the new Kavinace (ha!) or Alpha Gaba PM which I will keep for travel since melatonin does not seem helpful other than for jet lag, for me.

        There were a lot of interesting comments to Jane Brody’s recent articles in the Times to the effect that insomnia is harmful but so are prescribed sleeping medications. The usual recommendations of sleep hygiene, cognitive behavior therapy, etc., irritated many commenters but there were some interesting suggestions I had never seen before such as lithium orotate.

        The awful night you had was the worst night in years for me for no apparent reason.

        Thanks again.

        • Hi Nancy,

          I wish you all the best in your tapering.

          I’ve decided to take Alpha Gaba 3-4x a week but in combo with a higher dose of tryptophan (this has helped). I take Gaba Complex 3-4x a week. I may add 3 mg of melatonin which by itself has never worked, but Kavinace Ultra PM had melatonin.

          I took one of my remaining Ultra Kavinace PM’s last night and slept like a baby, sigh. Perhaps it’s because it contains 625mg of phenibut, a reasonably high dose.

          I’m about to update my article. I just spoke to a NeuroScience rep. Their Kavinace reformulation will be out within a week. So check back with the company. They plan to do internal quality testing first before releasing. The new Kavinace will be an emulsion (thick liquid) and contain melatonin which means it’s only designed for sleep. It won’t contain phenibut which is now pulled by the FDA (I suspect it will go script-only). But the new formulation will still work with the GABA receptors. Fingers crossed for the many many people who relied on Kavinace products!

          You might want to call NeuroSciences and consult about your sleep issues. They can’t give you medical advice, but they will suggest a health care practitioner in your area who is familiar with testing for body/brain issues that affect sleep. Hormone imbalace is a common culprit.

          As I mentioned, histamine intolerance is a surprising culprit. Before I understood this, years back I was up one night for five hours straight despite taking all my supplements. That day I’d had a boatload of histamine foods (red wine, blue cheese, tomatoes, edaname).

          I’m interested in reading that article. Yes, chronic insomnia is a slow insidious death of mind and body. I’ve been irritated for years by these sleep “solutions”, CBT and better sleep hygiene. Geeze, should it be so easy!! I tried it ALL, seriously, all.

          All the best,
          Laura

  17. Joni

    Thank you so much for this information. Apparently I didn’t approve WordPress and didn’t see this updated info until today. I’m the Kavinace PM scaredy-cat who left the comment on 4/30. Accutrition, the company I ordered from gave me the warning that it was going away and I straight away ordered 5 bottles. I have two bottles left and will try substituting your recommendations.
    I just sent my text for adrenals last week.
    Some of my insomnia is my own lack of discipline and just wanting to have fun sometimes, instead of being so serious and disciplined.
    Anyway thanks again! I have never found anything so pinpointed on the sleep and kavinace ultra pm love affair problem!

    • Hi Joni

      I’m finally out of all my Ultra Kavinace as well. I actually ordered NINE bottles of Gaba Complex (which has phenibut). It works pretty well but nothing comes close to UKavinace. I add 3mg of melatonin.

      I never found myself adding higher doses with Ultra Kavinace although I did regularly wake up in the middle of the night. In that case I took one or two regular Kavinace, 1 adrenal rebuilder and went blissfully back to sleep. So perhaps that’s tolerance? Although it ONLY tended to happen if I was hungry (low blood sugar due to adrenal fatigue) or up late drinking on the weekend.

      I’ve heard over the years that people build tolerance to phenibut. So what I’m trying to do is take Alpha Gaba PM a few nights a week but it just doesn’t work very well. And, I don’t feel quite as uplifted the next day.

      Phenibut lovers’ last hope is an online company called LiftMode. They still sell phenibut. I’m surprised they haven’t pulled their phenibut products per the FDA but perhaps it’s because LiftMode advertises their products as “nootropics” (alters cognition) rather than as dietary supplements. Nootropic Depot is another option for phenibut.

      Good luck with your adrenal testing. It’s more common than people think as a contributing factor to insomnia. So, supporting your adrenals every day is really important but I’m like you, I like to have fun and stay up too late on the weekends and so I screw up my adrenals!

      All the best and stay in touch!
      Laura

  18. Joni Roth

    Thanks so much for your reply Laura. Have you tried the Neuroscience Kavinace OS yet? I just checked and Accutrition has a liquid and capsule formula. No phenibut but it’s supposed to be the reformulation, I think, for Kavinace ultra pm.

    • You’re welcome!

      No, I haven’t tried the reformulation. The calming ingredient listed is L-theanine which is an amino acid naturally found in green-tea. Honestly I’m not hopeful it will provide much relief for sleep-maintenance insomnia. It’s just not strong enough. That said, I found this study that combined both GABA and l-theanine. Results suggest that the COMBINATION of both might be effective for sleep onset (which is not my issue, I fall asleep FAST). I’ll think I’ll post about this finding.

      My current plan is to rotate Alpha Gaba PM (no phenibut) + my usual tryptophan with Gaba Complex (+ melatonin). When I run out of Gaba Complex I’ll purchase Lift Mode’s phenibut. I certainly don’t want to build up tolerance but as I mentioned, I only took 1 UK per night and most times it worked to sustain sleep.

  19. Nancy Klein

    Hello, Laura and my dear other insomniacs,

    Well, in case this helps anyone, here is my experience. I am slowly withdrawing from phenibut – down to one Kavinace a night – and between one bottle left and 4 bottles of Gaba Complex and half a bottle of Phenitropic, have enought to stay at 200 mgs a year, if I chose. I also take 500 mgs of L-tryptophan, 200 of magnesium and .3 of melatonin.

    What is new for me is 400 mgs of Gaba Trex, Neuroscience’s chewable form of L-theanine, and a capsule of a formula of Western and Chinese herbs, Udream. The latter is made in Canada and seems only to be available through Amazon. As far as I have researched, the herbs are in small doses. I am amazed to be sleeping consistently well for the first time in 26 years. I did try L-theanine once in capsule form but the night was somewhat less good. I have never had good results with herbs before or with L-theanine by itself.

    I remain skeptical but hopeful.

    • Hi Nancy,

      I read a study that found L-theanine and Gaba work better in combination for sleep than each on its own. My plan is to rotate Alpha Gaba PM (no phenibut) with Gaba Complex. I add 3mg melatonin to Gaba Complex, one Adrenal Rebuilder and 1-2 caps of 500mg trypthophan to both formulas, as well as a good magnesium (sometimes spray, sometimes capsules. Ancient Minerals and Pure Encapsulations glycinate, respectively).

      I’ve never had luck with herbs either. It sounds like your combination is working well. Please keep in touch. I’ll probably never drop phenibut altogether for sleep. One Ultra Kavinace (plus tryptophan, Adrenal and magnesium) generally worked well to keep me asleep. If I did wake up I took one Adrenal if that didn’t work I added 1-2 Kavinace.) The latter might be considered phenibut tolerance/addiction, but it was never every night so I don’t know….

      Thanks for sharing,
      Laura

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