If you suffer with chronic insomnia at some point you’ve probably tried damn near anything to sleep.
I spent God knows how much money on supplements, herbs, books, prescriptions and acupuncture. I even got tested for sleep apnea although I suspected that wasn’t the problem (It wasn’t. In fact the doctor said I moved through “all the stages of sleep perfectly.” Really? Tell that to my 3am wide awake brain).
Nothing worked. Well prescription sleeping pills worked but not without horrible side effects (Ambien made me really nasty the next day). And sleeping pills are for short term sleep issues. My insomnia was every night, every week for months.
And the more stressed I got the worse my insomnia. I went from having trouble falling back to sleep, to for the first time in my life, having trouble falling asleep. It was a nightmare. I was anxious, depressed and in a fog.
I did hours of research and finally figured out based on my symptoms that I probably had something called adrenal fatigue. So I sent a sample of my saliva to a company called ZRT Laboratory that offers home testing for a variety of conditions. The results showed I had mild to moderate adrenal fatigue.
Unfortunately conventional doctors (vs. integrative or holistic) don’t believe adrenal fatigue is a real condition. They only recognize adrenal insufficiency/Addison’s disease and Cushing syndrome. So if you ask your health care provider about adrenal fatigue prepare for an eye roll and to hear “there’s no such thing.”
After I figured out I had adrenal fatigue I found a holistic MD who confirmed my diagnosis. Except that the doctor told me my condition wasn’t mild as I thought, it was severe. For months my doctor worked with me to strengthen my adrenal glands. And when I finally felt better — I slept better. Not every single night, but most nights.
In my link above I include a list of supplements I recently tested after I found out the FDA discontinued my favorite sleep supplement, Kavinace Ultra PM (I miss you…). I had so-so results with most of the supplements I tested.
Phenibut pulled from dietary supplements
Kavinace Ultra PM contained phenibut. Phenibut is a central nervous system depressant. It’s used in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and for a variety of other conditions. It worked really well to get me to sleep, and in combination with other supplements (see below), to keep me sleep.
However in April the FDA issued warning letters to companies that sell dietary supplements that contain phenibut to immediately pull or relabel their product a “nootropic.” Nootropics are substances that have memory or cognitive-enhancing effects. “Products labeled as dietary supplements that list phenibut as a dietary ingredient are misbranded,” cited the FDA.
Okay great so now I’m stuck without my Godsend of a sleep supplement.
So in desperation I called the company that made Ultra Kavinace PM (NeuroScience). A representative suggested Ultra Kavinace PM users try their Alpha Gaba PM formulation. I tried it. Meh. It works okay. I usually still wake up in the middle of the night.
NeuroScience’s latest replacement for Ultra Kavinace PM is a new formula called Kavinace OS (available in capsules or liquid). I haven’t tried it and I probably won’t. It has ingredients I’ve already tried alone or in various sleep formulas with so-so results.
Like Alpha Gaba PM, Kavinace OS contains L-theanine and melatonin. But Kavinace OS contains 5 mg of melatonin vs. Alpha’s 3 mg. That bump in melatonin might make a real difference for some people.
In my experience melatonin by itself vs. in combination with herbs etc. doesn’t work well for me. Melatonin isn’t a sedative. It’s a hormone naturally produced our brain’s pineal gland as the sun goes down. Its job is to regulate our body’s natural circadian rhythm. As we age our melatonin levels drop.
When I add a higher dose of melatonin to my sleep supplements I sleep pretty well but I have some pretty wicked (unsettling) dreams. Not a great trade-off.
This is the sleep regime that (usually) works for me.
Three to four nights a week I take:
- Two capsules Alpha Gaba PM.
- 300 mg bioidentical progesterone capsule (prescription)
- One to three capsules of 500 mg Pure Encapsulations tryptophan
- One Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Rebuilder
- Three sprays rubbed into my arm/leg of Ancient Oils Magnesium OR two to three capsules of Pure Encapsulations Magnesium.
Three to four nights a week I replace Alpha Gaba PM with one of my sleep formulas that contains phenibut. How did I get my hands on phenibut when it was removed from the market?
When I heard sleep supplements that contain phenibut were being pulled I stockpiled a few brands that got positive reviews on Amazon. Gaba Complex and Sleep Time (both are no longer available). You can however, also still purchase phenibut by itself at **LiftMode.
I don’t sleep quite as well with Alpha Gaba PM as I do with phenibut sleep formulas. But my holistic doctor increased my bioidentical progesterone by an extra 25mg per night to support my adrenal glands and that helps (as a note to women in menopause, bioidentical progesterone helps among many symptoms, sleep).
I may try adding GABA supplements to my Alpha Gaba PM. I read a study that found that GABA and L-theanine in combination are more effective than taken alone. I suggest taking the PharmaGaba form of GABA. PharmaGABA is the form, not a brand.
So that’s what I’m doing to stay asleep. A lot of times it’s trial and error. Please note that long term insomnia may be caused by a number of underlying or interrelated issues (stress, chronic pain, sleep apnea, etc.). Please consult with your health practitioner.
And please let me know what you’ve tried that’s working for you.
To better sleep and sweet dreams ~ Laura
**Please note: phenibut has the potential for tolerance and abuse. Use the lowest possible dose and regularly rotate with non-phenibut products.Phenibut requires careful, disciplined and responsible cycling and limited consumption to maximize its benefits and minimize the potential drawbacks.
Disclaimer: Please note I don’t recommend any products or service I haven’t personally tried or that haven’t 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 Amazon.com