Phosphatidylserine is a fatty substance that the body produces to protect every cell in the body. It is vital for the proper functioning of nerve cells in the brain and nervous system, helping to send messages between them.
Levels of Phosphatidylserine naturally decline with age, which is a problem because healthy amounts are associated with a sharp memory, cognitive function, high-quality sleep, and good mood.
Taking phosphatidylserine is a natural remedy for sleep problems, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, muscle soreness, anxiety, and stress. The effects of phosphatidylserine are possible because of its ability to lower levels of cortisol, which is known to wreak havoc on the quality of your sleep.
If you suffer from sleep disorders such as insomnia, then herbal supplements can be a great help. However, you should speak to your doctor about other available options, such as therapy or medications. Sleep medications may be an important tool for you. However, they disturb your body’s natural sleep cycles, and so where possible, you should try natural supplements, such as phosphatidylserine.
Does Phosphatidylserine Help You Sleep?
Advocates for phosphatidylserine for sleep claim that it works by lowering levels of cortisol. There are countless personal stories from people who claim that supplementing with phosphatidylserine has drastically improved their life. But what does the scientific evidence say?
There have been a handful of studies on the effects of phosphatidylserine. In one double-blind trial conducted in 1990, healthy males exercised on a bicycle ergometer that was designed to increase their levels of cortisol. Before their sessions, they were given either a placebo, 50mg or 75mg phosphatidylserine diluted in 100 ml of saline. As expected, cortisol levels rose with intense exercise, but those who received phosphatidylserine had lower levels by approximately 33% and 45% less. (1)
The next double-blind study performed in 1992 tried to replicate the experiment using a higher dose in the form of a pill, 400mg and 800mg. They found that cortisol levels were 16% and 25% lower in those who took phosphatidylserine. Although it was still successful in lowering cortisol, the lower numbers suggest that when taken in pill form, the bioavailability was lower. (2)
In a more recent 2008 study, men were given an 800mg dose of phosphatidylserine before performing a vigorous total body workout. This study found that phosphatidylserine reduced levels of cortisol after exercise by 20%. (3) The same study also measured levels of testosterone, which normally decline after intensive exercise. In those who took phosphatidylserine, testosterone did not reduce.
These clinical trials show that phosphatidylserine is effective at reducing cortisol. Unfortunately, it is only found in trace amounts in foods, making supplementation an effective measure for reducing stress and improving sleep.
Should I Take Phosphatidylserine in The Morning or Night?
Phosphatidylserine normalizes stress-induced hyperactivity of our HPA axis. It acts in the initial phase when cortisol levels are high. Therefore, it is best taken when cortisol levels are at their highest.
This could be different for everyone, if you wake up feeling stressed because of a stressful job, you should take it in the morning. However, if you find trying to get to sleep stressful, then evening might be better. If you work out a lot, you may find it most helpful to take it before vigorous exercise. This will also mean that you get the added benefits of a reduction in muscle soreness.
How Cortisol Levels Impact Sleep
Cortisol has been nicknamed the stress hormone. It is an essential hormone that plays many vital roles, including helping the human body adapt to stress. Yet, it is one of the few whose levels in the body increase with age, with potentially damaging consequences.
Cortisol is produced by a complex network known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Your hypothalamus sends a signal to your pituitary gland to make cortisol, and another signal to stop its production. It is an extremely complex feedback loop that profoundly affects your mind, body, and sleep.
Cells all over your body have cortisol receptors, so this hormone can have varying effects, including a spike in blood sugar, rapid breathing, and heart rate. It can also affect your mood, digestion, and immune system.
The stress response and sleep share the same pathway: the HPA axis. When something disrupts the functions of the HPA axis, it disrupts your sleep cycles as well.
Your circadian rhythm is a 24-hour sleep-wake cycle that synchronizes with day and night. The production of cortisol follows a similar schedule.
The lowest levels of cortisol should be around midnight, and it peaks about an hour after you wake up. In addition, around 16 smaller bursts of cortisol are released throughout the day and night; some of these correspond to shifts in your sleep cycles.
Your sleep goes through various cycles, including REM, light, and deep sleep. Each cycle lasts around 90 minutes, during which you move between each stage of sleep.
But studies show that when the HPA axis is overly active, it disrupts your sleep cycles, causing less time spent asleep as well as lower-quality and fragmented sleep. (3) The biggest contributing factor to this is chronic stress.
Sleep disturbances put more stress on your HPA axis, further distorting your body’s cortisol production. (4) Furthermore, sleep deprivation causes the body to produce more cortisol during the day, seemingly to stimulate alertness.
Too much cortisol is not only harmful to your sleep. It also weakens your metabolism, causes weight gain, memory problems, inflammation, headaches, heart disease, anxiety, and depression.
The Importance of Sleep
In the internationally bestselling book Sleep Smarter, Shawn Stevenson explains that sleep impacts every aspect of your life. Sleep is essential for learning and forming new memories, as well as your ability to lose weight and gain muscle. It impacts motivation and focus and keeps our immune systems healthy. That is because sleep regulates the production of hormones. (5)
Matt Walker, a respected sleep scientist, has been advocating for people to pay better attention to their sleep for years. In this TedTalk, he illustrates the importance of sleep by explaining that when we lose an hour of sleep because of daylight savings, heart attacks increase by 24%, and when we gain an hour, heart attacks are reduced by 21%!
Perhaps you believe that you do not need 8 hours of sleep and that you are simply one of those people who function on less. However, according to sleep scientists such as Dr. Thomas Roth,
“The number of people who can survive on five hours of sleep or less without impairment, and rounded to a whole number, is zero.”
What is Phosphatidylserine Good For?
There are many other benefits to taking Phosphatidylserine, and clinical trials are underway investigating its impact on things like Alzheimer’s disease. Other benefits include:
One of the effects of Phosphatidylserine is its ability to improve memory and cognitive function. In one study, elderly people with mild cognitive impairment were given 6 months of phosphatidylserine supplements or a placebo. Those who took phosphatidylserine showed significant memory improvement. (6)
Phosphatidylserine is also thought to help regulate mood. In one study, people over 65 with depression took both phosphatidylserine and Omega-3 fatty acids for 12 weeks. Their mood improved significantly. (7)
Research into phosphatidylserine and mental decline in elderly people, such as those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, is limited. However, it could be an effective treatment because of its ability to improve brain function, sleep, and memory. Studies also show that sleep conditions can increase the risk of developing degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. (8)
And the studies that have been done show promising results. In one study on patients with Alzheimer’s Disease, phosphatidylserine significantly improved memory, and no negative side effects were observed. (9)
Taking phosphatidylserine may boost athletic performance. In one study, those who took phosphatidylserine noticed a substantial decrease in muscle soreness. (10)
Other Natural Remedies to Improve Sleep Quality
Other natural remedies that you can try to improve your sleep include:
- Eat a protein-rich diet. Evidence suggests that a high-protein diet promotes more restful sleep. (11)
- Cut back on alcohol.
- Our phones, laptops, and televisions produce blue light, which blocks melatonin production and inhibits sleep. Therefore, you should avoid electronics for a minimum of 2 hours before bed. Alternatively, use blue-light blocking glasses to protect your eyes.
- Ensure the room you sleep in is dark.
- Eat a light snack before bed. (12)
- Work to reduce stress, and spend more time resting.
- Try mindfulness exercises prior to sleep, such as sleep meditations.
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine for 6 hours before bed.
- Wake up and go to bed at the same time each day.
- If possible, get sunlight onto your skin every day.
- Maintain a healthy diet and full nutrition, including plenty of healthy fat. Dietary health and nutrition play an important role in your sleep, you can read more here.
- Try herbal remedies for sleep.
Herbal Remedies for Sleep
Where possible, herbal remedies such as phosphatidylserine should be used instead of sleep medications. Sleeping pills do not provide the same restorative benefits as natural sleep. (13) Whereas these herbal remedies will not disturb your sleep cycles in the same way. If you suffer from insomnia, then it is important that you seek help and take sleeping medications if necessary.
However, if you are looking to boost your sleep with natural supplements, then Phosphatidylserine is a great place to start. Other natural remedies include:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Clinical trials have shown that low levels of omega-3 fatty acids are linked to sleep problems. (14). In particular, low DHA levels are associated with lower melatonin levels, which help you fall asleep. (15). Both Omega-3s and phosphatidylserine are beneficial to brain health and are reported to improve memory.
In one study, ashwagandha supplementation improved both the amount of time spent asleep and time taken to fall asleep. (20) In addition, those who were given the ashwagandha supplement reported feeling more alert the following morning and had increased focus.
It’s estimated that 82% of people in the US are deficient in Magnesium. This is partly because of the depleting quality of soil as a result of overfarming. (21) This is serious as magnesium plays many vital roles in our body, including energy production, gene maintenance, nervous system regulation, and muscle movements. Evidence suggests that those who have this nutrition deficiency are twice as likely to die prematurely. (22)
One of the key symptoms of magnesium deficiency is sleeping problems. Healthy magnesium levels, on the other hand, are associated with good sleep.
Rhodiola Rose is an adaptogen that helps your body adapt to stress. In one study, those who took Rhodiola Rosa supplements saw improvements in their sleeping patterns, motivation, and energy levels. (23).
Panax Ginseng is a traditional Chinese medicine used for insomnia. Studies have shown that it encourages good-quality sleep and less wakefulness. In fact, scientists argue that the other benefits people report from taking Ginseng, such as a better mind-set and increased focus, are actually due to its ability to improve sleep. (24)
If you are looking for an easy way to get a full sleep-stack in, then Centrapeak is a great option. It contains a perfect dose of Phosphatidylserine (100mg), as well as almost all of the ingredients listed above (just not Omega-3s). You can check out the full ingredient list and dosages here.
Centrapeak is a male vitality booster that has been designed to reduce levels of cortisol and increase testosterone. The result should be more energy and strength, healthy libido, and more confidence. When your mood is boosted, your sleep patterns are sure to improve, especially if your sleep problems are caused by stress.
We like Centrapeak because of its transparent, vegan, non-GMO, and well-researched formula that has been designed to help men feel their best.
- Monteleone P, Beinat L, Tanzillo C, Maj M, Kemali D. Effects of phosphatidylserine on the neuroendocrine response to physical stress in humans. Neuroendocrinology. 1990 Sep;52(3):243-8. doi: 10.1159/000125593. PMID: 2170852.
- 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;42(4):385-8. doi: 10.1007/BF00280123. PMID: 1325348.
- Theresa M. Buckley, Alan F. Schatzberg, On the Interactions of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis and Sleep: Normal HPA Axis Activity and Circadian Rhythm, Exemplary Sleep Disorders, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 90, Issue 5, 1 May 2005, Pages 3106–3114, https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2004-1056
- Nicolaides NC, Vgontzas AN, Kritikou I, Chrousos G. HPA Axis and Sleep. 2020 Nov 24. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Boyce A, Chrousos G, de Herder WW, Dungan K, Grossman A, Hershman JM, Hofland J, Kaltsas G, Koch C, Kopp P, Korbonits M, McLachlan R, Morley JE, New M, Purnell J, Singer F, Stratakis CA, Trence DL, Wilson DP, editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000–. PMID: 25905298.
- Stevenson, S. (2016). Sleep smarter. New York, NY: Rodale Books.
- Kato-Kataoka, A., Sakai, M., Ebina, R., Nonaka, C., Asano, T., & Miyamori, T. (2010). Soybean-Derived Phosphatidylserine Improves Memory Function of the Elderly Japanese Subjects with Memory Complaints. Journal Of Clinical Biochemistry And Nutrition, 47(3), 246-255. doi: 10.3164/jcbn.10-62
- Komori T. The Effects of Phosphatidylserine and Omega-3 Fatty Acid-Containing Supplement on Late Life Depression. Ment Illn. 2015 Apr 1;7(1):5647. doi: 10.4081/mi.2015.5647. PMID: 26266022; PMCID: PMC4508628.
- Pistollato F, Sumalla Cano S, Elio I, Masias Vergara M, Giampieri F, Battino M. Associations between Sleep, Cortisol Regulation, and Diet: Possible Implications for the Risk of Alzheimer Disease. Adv Nutr. 2016;7(4):679-689. Published 2016 Jul 15. doi:10.3945/an.115.011775
- Moré, M.I., Freitas, U. & Rutenberg, D. Positive Effects of Soy Lecithin-Derived Phosphatidylserine plus Phosphatidic Acid on Memory, Cognition, Daily Functioning, and Mood in Elderly Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. Adv Ther 31, 1247–1262 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12325-014-0165-1
- Kingsley, M. Effects of Phosphatidylserine Supplementation on Exercising Humans. Sports Med 36, 657–669 (2006). https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200636080-00003
- Lindseth G, Lindseth P, Thompson M. Nutritional Effects on Sleep. Western Journal of Nursing Research. 2013;35(4):497-513. doi:10.1177/0193945911416379
- Ahmad Afaghi, Helen O’Connor, Chin Moi Chow, High-glycemic-index carbohydrate meals shorten sleep onset, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 85, Issue 2, February 2007, Pages 426–430, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/85.2.426
- Walker, M. (2017) Why we sleep. Scribner
- Ladesich JB, Pottala JV, Romaker A, Harris WS. Membrane level of omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid is associated with severity of obstructive sleep apnea. J Clin Sleep Med. 2011 Aug 15;7(4):391-6. doi: 10.5664/JCSM.1198. PMID: 21897776; PMCID: PMC3161771.
- Peuhkuri K, Sihvola N, Korpela R. Dietary factors and fluctuating levels of melatonin. Food Nutr Res. 2012;56:10.3402/fnr.v56i0.17252. doi:10.3402/fnr.v56i0.17252
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- Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012 Jul;34(3):255-62. doi: 10.4103/0253-7176.106022. PMID: 23439798; PMCID: PMC3573577.
- Langade D, Kanchi S, Salve J, Debnath K, Ambegaokar D. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Insomnia and Anxiety: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Study. Cureus. 2019;11(9):e5797. Published 2019 Sep 28. doi:10.7759/cureus.5797
- Cakmak, I. Magnesium in crop production, food quality and human health. Plant Soil 368, 1–4 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-013-1781-2
- Eisenberg MJ. Magnesium deficiency and sudden death. Am Heart J. 1992 Aug;124(2):544-9. doi: 10.1016/0002-8703(92)90633-7. PMID: 1636608.
- Spasov AA, Wikman GK, Mandrikov VB, Mironova IA, Neumoin VV. A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of the stimulating and adaptogenic effect of Rhodiola rosea SHR-5 extract on the fatigue of students caused by stress during an examination period with a repeated low-dose regimen. Phytomedicine. 2000 Apr;7(2):85-9. doi: 10.1016/S0944-7113(00)80078-1. PMID: 10839209.
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