Lifestyle

Does Andrew Huberman’s Sleep Cocktail Work?

A neuroscientist-podcaster's approach to bettering sleep is a little more involved than counting sheep.

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If you’re a follower of scientist and podcaster Andrew Huberman you know he’s typically not over-committal with his words, careful not to suggest some new bit of research is the ultimate answer to whatever question he’s addressing. That’s what makes his position on the value of sleep unique, and perhaps best summarized by a 2021 tweet that describes sleep as, definitively, all of the following: the best nootropic, the best stress relief, the best trauma release, the best immune booster, the best emotional stabilizer, and the best hormonal augmenter. 

So we know the neuroscientist appreciates the value of sleep quality, but how does he make sure his sleep is good enough? Part of his solution, which he’s spoken about at length across several interviews and podcasts, is what’s been coined the Huberman Sleep Cocktail (or the Huberman Sleep Stack, depending on what corner of the internet you hang around). What is Dr. Huberman’s Sleep Stack, and does it work? We tried it out for a month to find out.

Momentous Sleep Cocktail Bundle

Pros
  • Can be effective at getting you to sleep
  • Don't need to take the full stack for effects
  • Products can be purchased individually to lower cost
Cons
  • Needlessly expensive
  • Causes stomach pain and discomfort for some
  • Confusing dosing information

What Is the Huberman Sleep Cocktail?

For one, the Andrew Huberman Sleep Cocktail isn’t a cocktail, which is a good place to start. It’s a combination of three or four pills—the number changes based on where you get your info from; more on that later—designed to help you fall asleep. The pills are just a few of the many supplements Huberman takes.

The sleep cocktail consists of magnesium (threonate or bisglycinate), L-theanine, apigenin, and inositol. Inositol’s inclusion in Huberman’s sleep cocktail is a matter of confusion, which we’ll dive more into later. Here’s the role each supplement plays in the mix. 

Huberman Sleep Cocktail Supplements

Magnesium Threonate (145mg) or Glycinate (200mg), daily

Likely the most versatile of the supplements in the Huberman sleep cocktail, magnesium threonate has been thought of as a significant cognitive support supplement for decades, with research suggesting its supplementation can play a role in mitigating conditions as common as headaches and stress as well as those as serious as even Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease (1). Studies specifically tied to supplementation for the benefit of sleep quality are rare, but observational studies have suggested an association between magnesium levels and quality sleep (2).

L-Theanine (100-400mg), daily

Found naturally in some teas and mushrooms, L-theanine is an amino acid with calming—but not tiring—effects. The substance has been found to have an anxiolytic effect on the body, which is fancy talk for anxiety-reducing effects—AKA relaxation. This runs in contrast to sleep medications or supplements that are sedative in nature, and oftentimes not suitable for consistent or long-term use. Contemporary research suggests L-theanine is both safe and effective as a sleep aid (3).

Apigenin (50mg), daily

Available research on the subject of apigenin—as it relates to sleep quality improvement—is scarce compared to magnesium and L-theanine, but it’s in Huberman’s sleep cocktail nonetheless. The reason why may have less to do with its function as a sleep inducer, and more to do with some research suggesting marginal (but noticeable) improvements in cognitive function in the day following (4). 

Inositol (900mg), every three days

Depending on where you look, inositol may or may not be included in the Huberman sleep cocktail. Huberman does not include the supplement in his sleep toolkit blog on his website, but he has spoken about taking 900mg every three days to bolster his sleep stack during an episode of his podcast on the subject of OCD.

Research linking inositol directly to sleep is limited, especially when compared to L-theanine or magnesium. However, a study of pregnant women found that a low dose—which Huberman says 900mg every few days qualifies for—of inositol can improve sleep quality (5).

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What’s Good About the Andrew Huberman Sleep Cocktail?

Can be effective at getting you to sleep

Our group review of the sleep cocktail consisted of three adult men—Austin in his mid-20s, Will (yours truly) in his early 30s, and Sean in his early 40s—taking the pills as suggested by Huberman for roughly a month. Between the three, all found the stack effective at aiding the sleep process, though to varying degrees of success. Specifically, the one result all reviewers reported was falling asleep faster. For example, Sean, our resident 40-something reviewer, saw his time to sleep quicken by about 10 minutes (as reported by his Eight Sleep smart bed). My fall-asleep time was bettered by roughly 20 minutes, as tracked by my Oura Ring. Austin didn’t record an exact time but noted that he consistently felt ready to fall asleep roughly half an hour after taking the daily pills.

These numbers aren’t earth-shattering improvements, but we’re also talking about sleep supplements that are not sedative, making marked, consistent improvement in time-to-sleep something worth celebrating. 

Don’t need to take the full stack for effects

Even though the “official” Andrew Huberman Sleep Cocktail sells all four products as a big, pricey bundle, you don’t have to take all of them to see results—in fact, Huberman himself doesn’t think you should take them all right away.

“I would start with one supplement (or none!) and then add one at a time as needed. Some people do not need any supplements, and some people like theanine but not magnesium, etc. so you have to determine what is best for you,” he writes in his Sleep Toolkit piece on his website.

If you’re looking to dip your toes in, but not fully commit (for either financial reasons or healthy skepticism), consider starting with magnesium or L-theanine—both have a wealth of research supporting them as good-for-you brain and sleep supplements, and both can be purchased anywhere online or at your local GNC or health store. Then, should you wish to continue experimenting, upgrade to a three-item stack of magnesium threonate, apigenin, and L-theanine.

Products can be purchased individually at lower cost

As alluded to above, don’t think of the $185 price tag as a fixed number. Whether you want to try the whole sleep cocktail or just a part of it, you can find the products available (and in the right doses) virtually all over the internet and at any local GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, or health store. For example, if you were to go with the trio of magnesium threonate, apigenin, and L-theanine you could have them for about $65 altogether on Amazon. Each supplement is fairly affordable when bought separately, too. Magnesium threonate should run you between $15 and $30 depending on dosage and brand. You could pick up a 120-serving bottle of L-theanine for $10. Apigenin is sold at about the same price range as magnesium threonate—roughly $15 to $30 a bottle.

More Sleep Help

What’s Not Good About the Huberman Sleep Cocktail?

Needlessly expensive

The most shocking part of reviewing Andrew Huberman’s Sleep Cocktail was the very first moment in the review process: googling it and seeing the price. 

Huberman officially partners with retailer Live Momentous, which sells the Andrew Huberman Sleep Bundle for $185 total, or $157 if you subscribe for monthly re-ups. Viewed through virtually any lens, that’s a fairly significant markup. For example, one could get three of the four supplements—excluding inositol, which is often not counted as a core part of Huberman’s sleep cocktail—for about $70 from Double Wood Supplement Store on Amazon. Each pill is the exact same dosage, too. If you don’t want to miss out on the inositol, there are dozens of options available, almost all of which are more affordable on a per-pill basis than on the Live Momentous website. If you’re interested in the Huberman sleep stack, our advice is to shop the unofficial product—it’s effectively identical and about half the price.

Causes stomach pain and discomfort for some

Huberman suggests roughly 5 percent of people may experience some stomach pain or discomfort as a result of taking the magnesium threonate supplement. Unfortunately for reviewer Sean, he is apparently among that 5 percent.

“Each night I took the magnesium threonate, I felt stomach pain and cramping, and slightly nauseous, all within about a half-hour of ingestion,” Sean reported. 

As best we can tell, there isn’t a particular way to know in advance whether you’ll have a negative reaction to magnesium threonate, so there is a bit of a dice roll element to purchasing the whole bundle at once. 

Confusing dosing information

It was oddly challenging to figure out how many pills we should be taking, and when, which is not a problem you want to have when taking new supplements (or pills of any kind). 

The back label of each Live Momentous bottle says to take the capsules daily, or as directed by your health care provider. But Huberman’s site says to take them all 30-60 minutes before bed. The magnesium threonate label says to take the three-pill load daily with meals, but Huberman makes no mention of mealtime in his sleep cocktail outline. 

Then there is the inclusion of inositol, which is nowhere to be found in that same outline. Huberman did dedicate a few minutes to the substance on a podcast episode way back when, but he described his use of the substance as experimental at that point. We asked Live Momentous why the supplement was included and the brand responded with the following:

“We developed the sleep pack before we began working with Dr. Huberman, and before he put more of an emphasis on inositol. Inositol has transitioned from a supplement that was recommended to be taken periodically, to one that would be taken regularly. In the future, we will likely add it to all sleep products.”

The Bottom Line

If you’re an Andrew Huberman follower (or just someone who wants to get better sleep) and want to try the sleep cocktail, you should do it, but with a few changes.

Start with one or two or the products—perhaps magnesium or l-theanine—and see what happens. If you feel like you’re falling asleep faster, or staying asleep longer, keep on keeping on. If not, pull the apigenin or inositol off the bench. Generally, though, temper your expectations: what Huberman offers isn’t ambien—it’s more like a light chemical suggestion that you should hit the hay.

References