Lion’s Mane Before Bed: Will It Help or Hurt Your Sleep?

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Probably not, no.

Sleep, that elusive and precious state of rest, plays a vital role in our overall health and well-being. The severity of sleeplessness, or insomnia, cannot be underestimated. It affects our mood, cognitive function, and even our physical health. In search of solutions, some have turned to Lion’s Mane, a fascinating mushroom with a reputation for numerous health benefits.

I’m not sure any of us would know what Lion’s Mane is if it weren’t for Joe Rogan or the podcast advertising world at large. It has been gaining attention from researchers and consumers alike for its potential benefits in various aspects of health, including its connection to sleep.

Its main use case, and the one best supported by research, is to support overall cognition. We include it as one of the best nootropic ingredients out there.

This creates a bit of a conundrum with regard to sleep. On the one hand, it might help you relax and therefore sleep better. On the other, because it may lead to laser focus, it may disrupt your sleep. Anecdotally, there are people in both camps. Today we’ll investigate whether the claims have anything behind them. I’ll also give my personal experience based on self-experimentation because there isn’t much research out there on this particular question right now.

It should also go without saying, but we’ll say it, that if you are going to get a lion’s mane supplement, there are better ones than others. I like RealMushrooms Lion’s Mane, and yeah, I do get a little something for saying that. So, hey, it’s up to you how you want to roll with that info. And just so you know, you can snag a cool 10% off if you use the code “ROMAN.”

That said, there are other great products. To figure out which is best for you, check out our article on the best lion’s mane supplements.

So, does Lion’s Mane hold the key to a good night’s sleep, or could it be a double-edged sword? Let’s delve in.

Understanding the Determinants of Poor Sleep on Our Health

Before we dive into the Lion’s Mane, it’s essential to grasp the gravity of sleeplessness on our health.

Sleep, often referred to as the “elixir of life,” is a fundamental physiological need. It’s during sleep that our bodies undergo essential processes for maintenance, repair, and restoration.

However, the severity of sleeplessness, or insomnia, extends far beyond mere fatigue; it can have profound and lasting effects on our health.

Cognitive Impairment

Sleep is critical for cognitive function. Chronic sleep deprivation can impair memory, attention, and decision-making abilities. Individuals with insomnia often struggle with cognitive tasks, experience difficulty concentrating, and may even have lapses in memory.

In fact, a study published in 2007 in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment titled “Sleep Deprivation: Impact on Cognitive Performance” delved into the consequences of prolonged wakefulness [1]. Whether it’s due to acute total sleep deprivation (the kind you might experience during an all-nighter) or the more common chronic partial sleep restriction (hello, busy schedules), both forms of sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on our cognitive abilities.

Picture this: you’re pulling an all-nighter to meet a deadline, and your brain is running on fumes. You might think you’re powering through, but the study suggests otherwise. It turns out that even acute total sleep deprivation, like the kind that leaves you bleary-eyed and reaching for another cup of coffee, can have a significant impact on your cognitive performance.

Your memory might start playing tricks on you, your attention span resembles that of a goldfish, and making decisions feels like navigating a maze blindfolded. This is precisely what chronic sleep deprivation does to your cognitive abilities. It’s like your brain is struggling to keep up with the demands of everyday life.

Mood Disorders

Sleep and mood are intricately connected. Persistent sleeplessness can lead to mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. The emotional toll of insomnia is significant, as it can exacerbate feelings of stress and frustration.

This relationship between sleep and mood is well-documented, as highlighted in a study published in 1997 in Sleep Medicine Reviews. The study revealed that mood disorders are prevalent in one-third to one-half of individuals with chronic sleep problems. [2]

Similarly, it noted that most patients with mood disorders experience insomnia, although a minority may paradoxically obtain significantly increased amounts of sleep. Despite the profound impact of mood disorders on overall well-being and the potential consequences of untreated sleep problems, it is worth noting that mood disorders often go undiagnosed.

This further underscores the importance of addressing sleep issues as a crucial aspect of mental health care.

Physical Health

Sleep plays a pivotal role in physical health. During deep sleep the body repairs tissues, produces essential hormones, and strengthens the immune system. The chronic lack of sleep is associated with an increased risk of various health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and a weakened immune system.

In a recent study published in 2023 titled “Sleep Deprivation,” researchers uncovered strong associations between inadequate sleep and serious medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus, insulin resistance, hypertension, obesity, obstructive sleep apnea, depression, and anxiety. These medical and psychiatric comorbidities not only impact one’s quality of life but also put a person at risk for heart attacks and strokes. [3]

Weight Management

Sleep deprivation disrupts the balance of hunger-regulating hormones, leading to increased appetite and cravings for high-calorie, sugary foods. This can contribute to weight gain and obesity, further exacerbating health problems. So it’s a big problem for your gym goals too.

Immune Function

Adequate sleep is crucial for a robust immune system. Sleep deprivation weakens the body’s ability to fend off infections, making individuals more susceptible to illnesses like the common cold and flu.

Cardiovascular Health

Chronic insomnia is linked to hypertension and an increased risk of heart disease. Sleeplessness can raise blood pressure and elevate stress levels, straining the cardiovascular system over time.

Quality of Life

Beyond the physical and mental health consequences, insomnia will make you feel like shit.. It can lead to daytime fatigue, irritability, decreased productivity, and strained relationships. It can turn your life into a bad soap opera. You’ll be tired all day, snapping at people, your productivity will nosedive, and youre relationships will likely fall apart.

With so much at stake, it’s no wonder people are exploring remedies, ranging from sleeping pills (usually a bad idea), to lion’s mane..

What is Lion’s Mane?

Lion’s Mane, scientifically known as Hericium erinaceus, is a unique mushroom with shaggy white spines that resemble a lion’s mane, hence its name. Historically, this mushroom has been used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine for its various health benefits, like boosting the immune system and improving cognitive function.

It has a long history of use in traditional medicine, particularly in Asian cultures. Lion’s Mane contains bioactive compounds, including hericenones and erinacines, which are believed to contribute to its therapeutic properties. This mushroom typically grows in the wild, often on hardwood trees, and its distinct appearance, with cascading spines rather than the typical mushroom cap, adds to its intrigue.

The Science Behind Lion’s Mane

The health benefits of Lion’s Mane can be attributed to its bioactive compounds, including hericenones, erinacine, and, as you’ll see advertised, beta-glucans. These compounds are what make Lion’s Mane not just a typical edible mushroom you’d use in cooking, and provide the neuroprotective benefits. Because of them, Lion’s Mane can potentially affect the brain and nervous system in ways that most foods cannot.

This, at least, has been the argument. In this mice study the consumption of Lion’s Mane mushrooms helped diminish memory loss symptoms in mice. Another study affirmed some neuroprotective effects.

In fact, a study published in 2012 in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, titled “Neurotrophic properties of the Lion’s mane medicinal mushroom,” shed light on the remarkable properties of these compounds. Hericenones and erinacines, isolated from the medicinal mushroom Hericium erinaceus, were found to have the ability to induce the synthesis of nerve growth factor (NGF) in nerve cells [4].

So while there is some research, this is far from robust. Like many dietary supplements, you shouldn’t expect this to be a panacea.

Lion’s Mane and Sleep

Woman sleeping on bed

Now, let’s get to the heart of the matter—Lion’s Mane and its relationship with sleep.

Some users have reported improvements in their sleep quality after incorporating Lion’s Mane into their bedtime routine. The argument for Lion’s Mane supporting sleep isn’t a direct one; it’s more nuanced. In this study, for instance, improvements in sleep disorders among participants came as a result of general enhancements in mood [5].

Unlike something like magnesium, Lion’s Mane’s mechanism for potentially supporting sleep is not direct. The theory here is that Lion’s Mane’s potential neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties might help calm the mind and promote relaxation, thus indirectly leading to better sleep.

My Personal Experience: It Really Doesn’t Make a Difference

I know, I know this isn’t a randomized controlled trial, but I am a supplement guinea pig. I’ve taken lots of supplements and tracked how they affect things like sleep, HRV, and more.

Lion’s Mane, for me, is like that sidekick in a superhero movie – it’s there, but it’s not stealing the show.

Lion’s Mane, when I take it with other nootropics, does seem to boost my focus and support my productivity. So it’s part of my afternoon workflow stack. I actually love it for late afternoon sessions because I can feel some benefits, but unlike something like caffeine, or even a nootropic like tyrosine, I see no ill effects on my sleep.

I’ve taken Lion’s Mane as late as two hours before bed without any effects on my sleep latency (how long it takes to fall asleep) or quality.

So to answer my title question, will it help or hurt your sleep? Right now, I believe the answer is NO on both fronts.

How to Use Lion’s Mane

When incorporating Lion’s Mane into your daily routine, it’s essential to choose a method that aligns with your preferences and lifestyle. Here are some common ways to use Lion’s Mane:

Just Buy The Mushroom: If you’re into culinary adventures, you can cook Lion’s Mane mushrooms like any other edible kind. They’re pretty tasty and can level up your salad game.

Capsules: These are a convenient option for those who prefer a straightforward and easy-to-measure dosage. They come in predetermined amounts, typically ranging from 500mg to 1000mg per capsule. This is fine, except you’ll need to take 4-6 capsules usually, which can be annoying.

Powder: Lion’s Mane powder can be mixed into drinks or food. Lion’s Mane coffee is super popular. I like to mix it in either oatmeal or yogurt. You can also add them to smoothies or your daily coffee or tea.

For more on this, check out this article on lion’s mane extract vs powder.

The recommended dosage can vary depending on the individual and the intended use. If you’re unsure about the best way to use Lion’s Mane or if you have specific health concerns, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified herbalist.

Lion’s Mane for Sleep…and What Other Benefits?

When considering Lion’s Mane for sleep, it’s important to recognize that its potential benefits extend beyond just helping you get a good night’s rest. Here’s a closer look at the multifaceted advantages this remarkable mushroom may offer:

Enhanced Cognitive Function: Lion’s Mane has garnered attention for its potential to boost cognitive function. Some studies suggest that Lion’s Mane may support memory, focus, and mental clarity. For those struggling with brain fog or seeking better cognitive performance, Lion’s Mane could be a valuable ally.

Reduced Anxiety and Stress: Chronic stress and anxiety can take a toll on our mental and physical well-being. Lion’s Mane contains compounds that may have anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effects. By promoting relaxation and potentially modulating stress responses, it may contribute to an improved overall sense of calm.

Improved Mood: Some users have reported an uplift in mood after incorporating Lion’s Mane into their daily regimen. While individual responses can vary, Lion’s Mane’s impact on mood may be attributed to its potential to support neurological health and balance neurotransmitters.

Neuroprotective Properties: Lion’s Mane’s most well-known feature is its neuroprotective capacity. It stimulates the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), which plays a pivotal role in maintaining and repairing neurons. This makes Lion’s Mane an appealing option for individuals concerned about cognitive decline and neurodegenerative conditions.

Gut Health: Surprisingly, Lion’s Mane may also benefit your digestive system. Some studies suggest that it could support gut health by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria [6]. A healthy gut is closely linked to overall well-being, so this potential benefit is worth considering.

Immune Support: While not its primary function, Lion’s Mane may have immune-enhancing properties due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects [7] [8]. A robust immune system is essential for warding off illnesses and maintaining vitality.

Nerve Regeneration: Beyond its role in NGF production, Lion’s Mane may have the potential to promote nerve regeneration [4]. This is particularly relevant for individuals recovering from nerve injuries or conditions affecting the nervous system.

Physical Performance: While more research is needed, some athletes and fitness enthusiasts have reported increased endurance and reduced fatigue when using Lion’s Mane. Its potential to reduce inflammation and support energy levels could be responsible for these effects.

Potential Side Effects and Precautions

Before you rush to try Lion’s Mane, it’s essential to consider potential side effects and precautions. Lion’s Mane is an edible mushroom, so in general it’s very safe.

However, some individuals may experience mild digestive issues, such as stomach discomfort or diarrhea. Starting with a lower dose and gradually increasing it can help mitigate these issues.

Any other side effects appear to happen only in those who are allergic to mushrooms. So if you’re allergic to mushrooms then… don’t eat mushrooms.

To ensure safety and effectiveness, choose Lion’s Mane products from reputable and trusted manufacturers. That’s why I recommend checking out RealMushrooms Lion’s Mane. It’s a top-notch product from a trusted manufacturer, so you can sleep easy knowing you’re getting quality.

FAQs: Lion’s Mane Before Bed – Sleep and Safety

Q. Does Lion’s Mane help you sleep?

A. Taking Lion’s Mane before bed may indirectly help you sleep, by supporting your mood and stress levels.

Q. Is it better to take Lion’s Mane at night or in the morning?

A. Lion’s Mane can be taken either in the morning or at night, depending on your preference and its effects on your sleep. Some people find it beneficial for relaxation before bedtime, while others prefer it in the morning for mental clarity and focus.

Q. What happens if you take Lion’s Mane before bed?

A. Lion’s Mane may help promote relaxation and calmness, potentially making it easier to fall asleep. It could contribute to a more restful night’s sleep and improved overall sleep quality.

Q. Is Lion’s Mane a sedative?

A. In short – no, Lion’s Mane mushroom will not make you sleepy. It is not a sedative but may have calming effects that can support a relaxed state conducive to sleep.

Q. Is Lion’s Mane addictive?

A. No, Lion’s Mane is not addictive. It is a natural dietary supplement derived from a mushroom and does not lead to addiction or dependence.

Q. Can Lion’s Mane improve memory?

A. Lion’s Mane may support memory, but it’s essential to note that most studies have been conducted on mice. The research is not strong enough in my opinion to make this claim.

Q. Is Lion’s Mane good for ADHD?

A. While some people use Lion’s Mane for ADHD because of its potential to protect and enhance brain function, there is no scientific evidence to support this use. Do not go off your meds just because you read about something on the internet. Talk to your healthcare provider.

Q. Is Lion’s Mane legal?

A. Yes, Lion’s Mane is legal to buy and use. It’s NOT anything like magic mushrooms and it won’t make you hallucinate. However, due to its rarity, it is a protected species in some countries and US states, making foraging illegal. Hooray for environmental regulation.

Q. What supplements might support sleep?

A. Two that I like include magnesium and apigenin for sleep. These supplements may help improve sleep quality when used as part of a balanced sleep routine.

Lion’s Mane holds promise for various aspects of health, including potentially improving sleep quality. While its effectiveness varies from person to person, its neuroprotective properties and potential benefits make it worth exploring. However, as with any supplement, talk to your healthcare provider, and be patient as you assess its impact on your sleep and overall well-being. Your path to better sleep may involve a unique and shaggy mushroom called Lion’s Mane.

For more on sleep, check out our article on how to improve sleep quality without sleeping more.


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About the Author

Umamah is a vibrant registered nutritionist and dietitian. She seeks to bring a practical approach to fitness and nutrition with a sprinkle of humor in every bite of advice she offers. She not only knows her kale from her quinoa, but also believes a good laugh is just as essential as a good meal. When she's not busy demystifying dietary myths, you can find her flexing her pun muscles or concocting deliciously nutritious recipes that even a couch potato would crave.

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