T Nation

Sleep Aids?


After playing hockey, from 10-11:30 pm, I have a TERRIBLE time trying to get to sleep. Usually I am tossing in bed until about 3am or so and end up having a very restless sleep.

What are your thoughts on using an otc sleep aid on nights when I have these problems (I already use ZMA)? Obviously I wouldn't want to make this a habit, but are there any negative sides to using such a product once in a while?


I'm not a big fan of OTC sleep products myself.

You might want to consider trying melatonin.

Obviously, if you are drinking anything with caffeine or otherwise consuming stimulant products you'll want to see if discontinuing them later in the day would help.


You're trying to force yourself to sleep before you are ready. And the more you think about trying to sleep the less you will.

What I do is I have a TV/DVD player in bedroom. I put on a DVD with commentary. I start to watch it. I don't think of sleep. Soon I just listen to him babble on while I "rest my eyes".

Get a TV with a sleep option so it will turn itself off when the DVD ends. I used to get waken up when the movie would end and the menu was louder than the movies commentary track.


Sometimes it gets a bad rap but I use melatonin (3mg) from time to time with good success.


Don't drink coffee, coke or anything with caffeine after 2pm.

Melatonin is good, but I've had better results with kava-kava. Just take one pill 30 minutes before going to bed.

If you know any meditation technique you can also do that 30 minutes before trying to sleep.

I've had sleep issues but I eliminated caffeine completely (not even green tea), I take ZMA and I meditate every evening before sleep and now I'm sleeping like a baby. I wake up 7 hours later, fully rested.


There was an article on here awhile back that mentioned an chinese herbal formula (looked pretty interesting and the price wasn't bad). I think the article was called "The Big SLeep" or try to use the search engine and look for something like herbal sleep aides.

I've used ZMA with some effectiveness, melatonin works sometimes but gave me an occasional hangover/dragass feeling when I'd use it or it just stop working. I will say that powerfull seems to help me sleep and I had dreams every single night, and the dreams seemed to begin almost the second I shut my eyes. If you use the chinese herb please let me know as I'm interesed but I'm about to try something else out soon for this very reason. ALso, I don't like ambien or tylenol pm since they make me feel all drugged out when I woke up.

On a semi-serious note I almost always find a rigourous round of sex (even just whacking it) can help. That and a solid dose of carbs, just remember the protein. Keep us posted bro.


A few ideas..

The amino acid l-theanine in dosages of 200mg is a great sleep aid. Take it an hour before bedtime. There are some good studies on it. It also counteracts the effects of caffeine on sleep deprivation.

Herbs like valerian, hops, passionflower and a few others are good as well.

Melatonin should be used once every 2 or 3 days. Maybe just after your late hockey games. A key point is to start with a small dose, maybe .5 mg to find what works.

Falling asleep to a tv might not be a great idea beacause the light from the TV can reset your internal clock. Same thing goes for computer monitors.

A hot espom salt (magnesium) bath before bed is good too. Anything to relax the CNS.


I don't know about that valerian. It doesn't seem to work too well for me. I tried it at first with no effect. Then over a couple of days I gradually upped it to 4 or 5 times the reccomended dosage. Gives a light drowsy feeling but still can't get to sleep.


I have taken prescription sleep aids every day for a few years now and love them, although I have sleep problems.

The OTC ones are crap.

Also, I use the TV with sleep timer on it but I only put in movies that I've seen a billion times (like all the Star Wars movies)


Since I work nights, I have to try to sleep around 1-2pm in the afternoon, which can be very difficult. I typically use Tylenol PM, but only half to a quarter dose! They recommend using two pills, but that knocks me out for 12+ hours. I find that if I bite a single pill in half, it's enough to put me to sleep in 30-45 minutes and sleep for 7 hours. If you do take this, it does leave you "foggy" for at least an hour after you wake up. I use this one when I've had a particularly bad stretch of sleep, or on my days off when sleep doesn't matter.

I also take a product called "Snooze-In w/Melatonin" from Vitamin Shoppe. It has:

L-Taurine 50mg
Melatonin 3mg
Valerian 100mg
Hops 75mg
Skullcap 75mg
Chamomile 75mg
Passion Flower 50mg

I like using this one the best, mainly because it doesn't leave me "foggy" and after 7-8 hours of sleep I feel pretty good. I don't feel any side effects from this. I use this one at least once-twice a week. As was suggested previously though, lay off the caffeinated drinks prior to sleep. For me, that included not taking my morning coffee at 8am after work. So the last dose of caffeine I have is around 5am from HOT-ROX, and that's it!

Good luck!



I know valerian was said but it bears mentioning again. Melatonin should not be used if your young I'm 22 and the doc told me I was to young to start that or androgel. Well that works for me. You could always try a carb induced coma...


I have found the use of "ZMA" effective at reaching a deeper sleep, without the morning sluggishness found with some of the other OTC sleep aids. Plus, the added benefit of possibly increasing T-levels, is an added bonus.


I'll second the ZMA suggestion:

deep sleep, extra T, crazy dreams


Re: Valerian

I've tried a number of sleep aids (OTC and herbal) and find that I like Valerian the best. Typically, the ones that make you drowsy don't last from the time you start to feel sleepy to when you make it to bed (it takes a half hour-hour to work and it takes that long for me to fall asleep on my own, why bother sitting in bed?), but Valerian is much, much better.

I find that it doesn't help me fall asleep, but when I do sleep, I get a much better sleep than I do without it. I was on vacation recently and had a couple sleepless nights after I ran out.

Similar to the OP, I get back from MMA class at like 11 and have a hard time falling asleep. I'd recommend trying Valerian. A buddy of mine gave it a shot and it doesn't seem to work for him, so some experimentation may be in order.


After reading your post on ZMA, I decided to read more about it and give it a go. If ZMA helps, I'll just switch to that and leave the OTC/herbal stuff in the medicine cabinet.





You are not able to get to sleep for one simple reason.

Sleep and wake cycles correspond to a change in body temperature. Temperature rises throughout the day and falls at night, signaling your body to go to sleep.

Your screwing that up by intense activity so close to bedtime.

Trust me. I have had many sleep problems.
Yours is one of them(training jiujitsu in the evening and then trying to get to bed).

All the other things that were mentioned
may help, but the body temp thing(along with the corresponding hormones released from competing) is huge.


Try taking GABA. I have been taking it for about a month and while it doesn't make me sleepy, it helps me to fall asleep faster and gives me a better quality of sleep. I wake up feeling refreshed not hungover like with some OTC sleep aids.


BINGO! You have no chance of getting to bed for many hours after having just played hockey. Stop playing hockey so late at night or deal with it. You definitly dont want to start relying on an "aid" to get to sleep.


What I've found is that its all in your head.

I've tried melatonin- knocks me out if I have a couple beers with it, but I sleep FOREVER and can't wake up in the morning. Melatonin alone did nothing for me.

I would say look into relaxation techniques for your mind, such as some kind of meditation. If you relax your mind, your body follows.

Sleep aids are not something I ever wanted to mess around with.