Is there a link between mood, rest, and recovery?
If you’ve ever struggled with a chronically low mood, you have likely also struggled with sleep. Depression and sleep are so interconnected that both fatigue during the day and insomnia (difficulty sleeping at night) are much more prevalent in people who are depressed . Plus, poor sleep can actually increase one’s risk of experiencing a depressive episode .
When an electroencephalogram (EEG) is used to measure sleep, patients with depression often experience difficulty reaching deep, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, changes in sleep continuity, and impaired non-REM sleep .
How can I support my mood and feel more rested?
Unfortunately, while SRI antidepressant medications may help some with their low mood, most antidepressants further suppress REM sleep .
We certainly don’t suggest stopping any prescriptions. However, there are complementary ways in which you can promote better sleep and a better mood. A few lifestyle and nutritional changes may help balance out the negative effects that medication or mental health are having on your sleep, while also helping to improve your mood.
Better Sleep Hygiene
Of course, the first steps to getting better sleep are to make sure you have made sleep a priority, rather than just trying to squeeze it into your busy schedule. Try relaxing with a getting-ready-for-bed routine that soothes you.
Caffeine late in the day, alcohol, heavy dinners, and exercise late at night can all interfere with sleep. Most of us have also heard the importance of resisting blue light screens (smartphones, tablets, tv, and computers) for at least an hour or two before bed to let our minds settle.
Dark, cool, and quiet bedrooms are the most conducive to sleep. You can try an eye mask and a white noise sound machine if it’s impossible to get your room quiet and dark.
Avoid the effects of “social jetlag” by maintaining the same sleep and meal schedule on weekends as you follow on weekdays .
Balanced Nutrition for Sleep
There are also certain nutrients that can be helpful in readying the brain and body for sleep. Here are a few suggestions with the science that supports them:
The pineal gland produces melatonin naturally during hours of darkness to help regulate the “body clock” that controls when you’re awake and when your body is ready for sleep. This clock typically follows a 24-hour cycle called the circadian rhythm. The rhythm affects how every cell, tissue, and organ works .
Although melatonin is known as a neurohormone, which we typically associate with the brain, it has been found in all kingdoms of life, including both vertebrate and invertebrate animals, bacteria, fungi, algae, and plants. And, in all kingdoms melatonin production requires an intake of the amino acid L-tryptophan, and is synthesized from serotonin .
Supplementing with melatonin alone will not change circulating levels of serotonin, or affect mood, but low levels of serotonin could be a cause for poor melatonin production and consequential difficulty sleeping . This is one probable link between sleep disorders and depression .
Naturally, sufficient levels of circulating melatonin should spike at night to help us fall and stay asleep, but as we age, we tend to produce less and less melatonin . This may be the reason new sleep difficulties often arise as we advance into our later years of life.
It is also the reason that you should take melatonin supplements in the evenings. The highest levels of circulating melatonin should occur when you are ready to bring on sleep, mimicking the young, healthy body’s natural cycles.
There is a complicated and complex relationship between mood and sleep, and 5-hydroxytryptophan, better known as 5-HTP, plays a role in both. The body also naturally produces 5-HTP, this time as a precursor for the production of serotonin, which it then converts to melatonin.
However, 5-HTP bypasses the light-triggering system that regulates the release of melatonin, and provides the substrate for an increase in both serotonin and melatonin release, regardless of light or time of day.
Because 5-HTP increases serotonin, it has a calming, relaxing effect on brain chemistry. 5-HTP may help to ease anxiety that occasionally arises at bedtime. Studies have shown that 5-HTP supplementation can help patients fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply than a placebo .
Serotonin also plays an important role in many other bodily functions, including digestion, appetite, and pain perception. Again, healthy serotonin levels are essential for maintaining healthy melatonin levels, and both serotonin and melatonin are critical to sleep and a functional biological clock. 5-HTP supports the production and release of both of these natural neurochemicals.
Inositol was once called vitamin B-8 and considered a member of the B vitamin family. It shares the qualities of many B vitamins as a stress reducer and mood lifter. Tt has more recently been classified as a pseudovitamin; a sugar alcohol closely related to glucose.
Inositol is used by your brain as a “secondary messenger”, facilitating communication between brain cells. All of the major neurotransmitters rely on inositol to relay messages. Inositol also assists in the transport of amino acids, proteins, and the neurotransmitters themselves across cell membranes.
Inositol accesses stores of calcium in the brain, in turn activating the release of many neurotransmitters, including serotonin. It also helps boost serotonin and dopamine receptor density . This means, more serotonin will be freely available and and the brain will receive and read it more efficiently .
Not only does inositol improve the effectiveness of serotonin, but also GABA, glutamate, and dopamine. It promotes a stronger sense of well-being, more restful sleep at night, and a more even-tempered mood during the day .
Glycine is a very versatile amino acid, in terms of the roles it plays throughout the body, and it easily crosses the blood-brain barrier, inducing a calming effect on the brain and helping you wind down to prepare for sleep. It does this by interacting with the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN; the 24-hour biological clock in the central nervous system that controls when we want to be asleep and awake).
In response to glycine, the SCN triggers a reduction in core body temperature through vasodilation, which is an important biological step in the onset of sleep . Glycine’s effect on sleep is considered to occur through thermoregulation, it will not contribute to any morning grogginess after a good sleep. It may actually do the opposite by regulating adrenal production of hormones for wakefulness during the day .
Glycine also works as a neurotransmitter and has both stimulatory and inhibitory effects on parts of the brain and central nervous system. It plays a positive role in cognition, mood, appetite and digestion, immune function, pain perception, as well as restful sleep. You may not be surprised by this point on our list, but glycine is also involved in the production of other biochemicals that influence these body functions, including –you probably guessed it– serotonin .
Although not a nutritional quality per se, glycine has a very sweet flavor and dissolves quickly and easily in water-based liquids. This characteristic makes glycine an excellent candidate for use as a sweetener in warm drinks, without adding empty calories or a burst of energy like sugar.
One underpublicized epidemic in the US is magnesium deficiency. It has been estimated that nearly half of adults in the US are magnesium deficient .
Magnesium promotes deep, restorative sleep. Deficiency in this essential nutrient can cause symptoms such as insomnia, leg cramping, and restless leg syndrome . Insomnia is actually quite common in magnesium-deficient individuals, and they often report experiencing restless sleep and waking frequently during the night.
The mechanism of magnesium’s effects on sleep is related to its role as a regulator of the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is the system responsible for promoting calm and relaxation . It also helps to regulate melatonin  and GABA, the neurotransmitter responsible for quieting the nervous system .
Unfortunately, as we age, we tend to find less magnesium is being absorbed from our diets, and this problem can be exacerbated by conditions such as diabetes, digestive issues, or high alcohol consumption .
As mentioned earlier, adults often find themselves with more difficulty sleeping later in life. While this could be a symptom of myriad changes in the body, it is helpful to know that many of these issues can be mitigated with nutritional choices. Changes in absorption of essential nutrients affect our daily recommended intake levels, and we can support the slowing biosynthesis of chemicals within the body to improve our overall health and quality of life.
Potassium channels and their functions are essential to cell signaling and brain synapses. It helps nerves and muscles communicate, and helps move nutrients into cells and to remove waste products from cells.
Studies have shown that potassium supplementation helped participants sleep deeply, without interruption in sleep cycles . The “slow waves” that cross the brain during sleep are what keep us in a deep sleep while the brain resets, recharges, and cleans out toxins and free radicals. When potassium channels are not functioning as needed, these slow waves are interrupted, which may prevent deep sleep and their healing qualities .
All of these nutrients can be found in Metabolic Maintenance’s sleep support supplement, R.E.M. Maintenance™.
Balanced Nutrition for Mood
Since you’re here on the MethylPro Blog, you have likely heard of MethylPro, or are taking MethylPro already. L-Methylfolate provided by MethylPro is one of the best nutrients you can supplement to support an improved mood .
Methylfolate is the activated form of vitamin B-9 (folate), which participates in the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin. As serotonin is also a precursor to melatonin, healthy levels of methylfolate also benefit healthy sleep .
However, we do recommend taking your MethylPro in the morning, rather than before bed. L-Methylfolate, along with other B-vitamins, can promote alertness, more energy, and your ability to focus. These are terrific benefits during the day, but generally not the way we want to feel while sleeping.
If you have trouble with sleep or feeling rested in the mornings, try taking your MethylPro after breakfast. Then, take a sleep support supplement like R.E.M. Maintenance in the evening to help you settle for bed.