How Phosphatidylserine Improves Sleep Quality

How Phosphatidylserine Improves Sleep Quality

Reducing stress and increasing relaxation is the key to better sleep.

Sleep is a complex issue because of all the factors that can play a role in affecting it. Although it may be difficult to know exactly what is needed to improve sleep quality, understanding the basics of sleep health can lead us in the right direction. 

Sleep is essentially influenced by three things: darkness, temperature, and the earth’s magnetic field. The darker, the colder, or the weaker the field, the more our body is signaled to enter the sleep cycle. The problem is that we live in a modern world that has interrupted these natural rhythms. We live in constant artificial light, we control interior temperatures with a/c, and we are firmly lodged inside walls filled with electrical circuits and fields. Add to that the stress of modern life, and our often nutritionally-insufficient diets, and it is little wonder why so many people suffer from insomnia.

In the ongoing effort to identify nutritional sources that enhance the body's ability to fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply, one of the most effective and important is phosphatidylserine (PS). PS has not only shown positive impacts on regulating sleep in studies on sleep enhancement, but seems to have an almost endless number of benefits to general health as well. Research suggests it enhances mental function, immune function, adrenal function, reduces occurrences of headaches, settles dizziness, lessens tinnitus, balances blood sugar, enhances focus, and even improves mood and lowers stress levels. It is so useful, it is commonly given to Alzheimer's sufferers (Rakel, D., editor, Integrative Medicine, 3rd edition, Saunders Elsevier, 2012.)

So what makes phosphatidylserine so good at helping you sleep better?

Phosphatidylserine is a type of lipid in cell membranes; a fatty substance called a phospholipid. It envelops and protects brain cells and is central to message transmission and brain function. Discovered in 1847 by a French chemist named Gobley, scientific study has since identified its key roles in important cognitive chemistry. PS is at the heart of all cellular communication, increasing the number of cell membrane receptor sites for message reception and modulating cell membrane fluidity. It enables your brain cells to metabolize glucose, improves the uptake (binding and releasing) of neurotransmitters, enhances neuro-plasticity and synaptic fidelity, increases output of acetylcholine, dopamine, and lowers stress-elevated cortisol levels. (Kidd, P.M. Alternative Medical Review. Sept. 1, 2007.)

As a result of its effects on neuro-transmitters, and particularly on dopamine production, PS has shown remarkable efficacy for helping patients with sleep disorders, clinical depression, and also likely why it has proven to be an effective therapeutic agent for attention disorders ADD and ADHD. PS helps diminish sympathetic nervous activity, which is why its application as a calming agent, and as a stress reliever has become so common.

Again, our modern lifestyles are culpable in our sleep disorders, causing unwanted and untimely adrenal function. Have you ever noticed that it is late in the evening and your brain is racing, and you feel wired even though you are dead tired? Likely your brain has switched on your adrenal glands due to stresses and anxieties, and your body is being pumped full of cortisol and geared up to convert other resources (especially immune) into immediate energy. Great if you are being chased by a rhinoceros, but not so useful if you are safely at home trying to sleep. This problem has not only become very common in today's world, but is possibly the major reason for insomnia. 

PS significantly lowers these cortisol levels, reducing stress levels, lowering the state of physical alertness, and producing a relaxed, more peaceful state of mind and body. Its role includes regulating metabolism and stress responses by controlling cortisol amounts and neutralizing any excess. PS works to reverse the insensitivity of neurons in the hippocampus to cortisol, so they are satisfied with much less, telling the hypothalamus to stop stimulating the adrenal glands, and so cortisol levels drop. In this sense, PS is not a ‘cortisol blocker’, but is simply counter-acting the agents that caused the cortisol levels to get too high.

These effects on cortisol alone make PS an excellent solution for sleeping problems. Furthermore, research suggests that PS can act as a glutamate blocker, an excitatory neurotransmitter which when levels are too high, interferes with the ability to relax and sleep.

No question! PS is a nutritional path to a better night's slumber.

For those looking to improve sleep, ideal first steps are calming the body, reducing nervous over-activity, and calming the mind by creating the right environment for the release of 'feel-good' neuro-chemicals. PS is highly beneficial in both these tasks. Studies on PS supplementation show consistent benefits to better sleep based on the sleep quality index (PSQI) that measures subjective sleep quality, sleep latency, sleep duration, habitual sleep efficiency, sleep disturbances, use of sleep medication, and daytime dysfunction over the last month. Of the natural solutions to assist with sleep problems, phosphatidylserine is considered to be one of the most effective options. And if you are looking for a natural supplement alternative for mood enhancement, PS should be high on your list.

Related Posts:
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What You Don't Know About Hops Could Make You Sleepy

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  • Monteleone P, Beinat L, Tanzillo C, Maj M, Kemali D. Effects of Phosphatidylserine on the Neuroendocrine Response to Physical Stress in Humans. Neuroendocrinology. 1990
  • Kidd, P.M. Alternative Medical Review. Sept. 1, 2007; vol 12: pp 207-227.
  • Monteleone P, Maj M, Beinat L, Natale M, Kemali D. Blunting by chronic phosphatidylserine administration of the stress-induced activation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis in healthy men. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1992
  • Rakel, D., editor, Integrative Medicine, 3rd edition, Saunders Elsevier, 2012.
  • Fernholz KM, Seifert JG, Bacharach DW, Burke ER, Gazal O. The Effects of Phosphatidyl Serine on Markers of Muscular Stress in Endurance Runners [abstract] Med Sci Sports Exerc.2000;32:S321.
  • Natural Standard: "Phosphatidylserine."
  • Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database: "Phosphatidylserine."

The opinions expressed in this article are of the author. Content and other information presented on the site are not meant to be medical advice or any substitute for professional advice, counseling, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard professional medical or mental health advice from your physician or other qualified health provider.


Tags: sleep


    • Avatar
      Nov 2, 2014

      Been reading your blog posts and so far they have been very helpful. Thanks.

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