Garlic: An Unsung Herbal Hero


Why Do We Sleep?

February 18, 2023

About this PDF

The benefits of good sleep – and consequences of poor sleep – extend to nearly every system of the body. However, most Americans do not get the recommended amount of sleep each night.

Developing healthy sleep habits can help with important functions including memory consolidation, immune system optimization, reducing oxidative stress, and regulating hormones. Together, these beneficial effects enhance health in the systems of the body including cognitive function, cardiovascular system, immune system, and metabolic health.

But getting adequate, healthy sleep can be challenging. Many lifestyle factors can impact sleep including certain medications, traveling – especially across time zones – consuming alcohol or caffeine before bed, and too much screen time. Physical activity can benefit sleep unless it occurs too soon before bed, which can lead to sleep disturbances.

Common sleep problems in Americans range from trouble falling asleep or staying asleep to breathing issues during sleep, or sleep apnea. Other issues include restless leg syndrome, teeth grinding, as well as stress- and anxiety-induced sleep disturbances.

Scientific studies have demonstrated the usefulness of several nutrients and herbs to support sleep and decrease anxiety and stress through a variety of mechanisms. Whole-food magnesium, vitamin C, and several B vitamins can help improve sleep quality and modulate important molecules involved in sleep including cortisol and tryptophan. Adaptogenic herbs including ashwagandha, schisandra, and kava can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality.



  • Rasch, B., Born, J. (2013). About sleep’s role in memory. Physiological Reviews, 93(2):681.
  • Aho, V., Ollila, H.M., Rantanen, V., et al. (2013). Partial sleep restriction activates immune response-related gene expression pathways: Experimental and epidemiological studies in humans. PLoS ONE, 8(10):e77184.
  • Hill, V.M., O’Connor, R.M., Sissoko, G.B., et al. (2018). A bidirectional relationship between sleep and oxidative stress in Drosophila. Plos Biol, 16(7):e2005206.
  • Kim, T.W., Jeong, J.-H., Hong, S.-C. (2015). The Impact of Sleep and Circadian Disturbance on Hormones and Metabolism. Int J Endocrinol, 2015:591729.
  • How does sleep affect your heart health? (2018). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Cappuccio, F.P., Taggart, F.M., Kandala, N.B., et al. (2008). Meta-analysis of short sleep duration and obesity in children and adults. Sleep, 31(5):619.
  • Tips for Better Sleep. (2022). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Key Sleep Disorders. (2022). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Abbasi, B., Kimiagar, M., Sadeghniiat, K., et al. (2012). The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci, 17(12):1161.
  • Olayaki, L.A., Sulaiman, S.O., Anoba, N.B. (2015). Vitamin C prevents sleep deprivation-induced elevation in cortisol and lipid peroxidation in the rat plasma. Niger J Physiol Sci, 30:5.
  • Aspy, D.J., Madden, N.A., Delfabbro, P. (2018). Effects of vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) and a B complex preparation on dreaming and sleep. Percept Mot Skills, 125(3):451.
  • Mayer, G., Kröger, M., Meier-Ewert, K. (1996). Effects of vitamin B12 on performance and circadian rhythm in normal subjects. Neuropsychopharmacology, 15(5):456.
  • Wakade, C., Chong, R., Bradley, E., Morgan, J. C. (2015). Low-dose niacin supplementation modulates GPR109A, niacin index and ameliorates Parkinson’s disease symptoms without side effects. Clin Case Rep, 3(7), 635.
  • Langade, D., Kanchi, S., Salve, J., Debnath, K., Ambegaokar, D. (2019). Efficacy and safety of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) root extract in insomnia and anxiety: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Cureus, 11(9):e5797.
  • Salve, J., Pate, S., Debnath, K., Langade, D. (2019). Adaptogenic and anxiolytic effects of ashwagandha root extract in healthy adults: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical study. Cureus, 11(12):e6466.
  • Zhang, C. Mao, X., Zhao, X., et al. (2014). Gomisin N isolated from Schisandra chinensis augments pentobarbital-induced sleep behaviors through the modification of the serotonergic and GABAergic system. Fitoterapia, 96:123.
  • Li, N., Liu, J., Wang, M., et al. (2018). Sedative and hypnotic effects of Schisandrin B through increasing GABA/Glu ratio and upregulating the expression of GABAA in mice and rats. Biomed Pharmacother, 103:509.
  • Wheatley D. (2001). Kava and valerian in the treatment of stress-induced insomnia. Phytother Res, 15(6):549.

Scientifically driven. Education focused. Healing Inspired.

Subscribe to Insights

Receive clinically driven nutrition insights you can trust.

Newsletter Signup

Animated Newsletter WM

Join Our Community to Read Further

This is a premium article created for our Healthcare Practitioner readers. Create a free account to continue reading and gain full access.



WholisticMatters offers health care practitioners and nutrition enthusiasts alike the opportunity to create a free profile for access to site features like bookmarking. Enjoying an article you are reading or a video you are watching? Save it to come back to later! Sign up in seconds for continuous access to all that WholisticMatters has to offer.

WholisticMatters also offers health care practitioners who create a free user profile access to exclusive content and tools to utilize in clinical practice. Articles, tools, and downloads created specifically for practitioners to use in their office for better patient education in clinical nutrition and health. Sign up today with your email and credentials so we can confirm you as a health care practitioner, and you are free to peruse the resources unique to you and your colleagues in health.


Create Your Account:

show-pass Please use 8 or more characters with a mix of letters, numbers & symbols

Create a free account to use our great bookmarking tool

Once your account is created, you'll be able to save and organize what matters to you!

Already have an Account? Login Here

Click 'Sign Up' above to accept Wholistic Matters's Terms of Service & Privacy Policy.

Are you a Healthcare Professional? Sign Up For Free Access!

We'll verify your credentials and get you access to our great interactive tools.

Already have an Account? Login Here

Click 'Sign Up' above to accept Wholistic Matters's Terms of Service & Privacy Policy.