Top Mushrooms for Better Sleep

Everyone agrees – from healthcare professionals to the common person – that restful sleep is key to achieving optimal health. Gone are the days when eight hours of shuteye was considered wasted time that could have been put to better use. Now, there is a growing realization that sleep is necessary to recharge the body and mind. Moreover, sleep is not only linked to optimal health but also to longevity itself.

Long walks, special tea, and a soothing environment – none of these helped me, and many others have experienced little success with these methods. Similarly, sleeping pills are known to make users groggy and irritable the next day.

Nature provides us with a solution – mushrooms. We understand your state of mind. You’re looking for an effective and lasting solution. That’s why we take you on a journey to understand sleep, how mushrooms can help, the best mushrooms for better sleep, and finally, the best practices to inculcate better sleep habits.

The Sleep Problem Plaguing the World

In an era dominated by technological advancements, climate change, heightened stress levels, socio-political issues, and fast-paced lifestyles, sleep has become an elusive commodity for millions around the world.

Most people can relate to the issue of poor sleep. In fact, except for a thin sliver, the majority of the population experience some kind of sleeping problem at some stage of their life. According to a study, only 10% of the respondents said they sleep extremely well. When asked about the quality of sleep, 4 out of 5 respondents wished they had a more restful sleep. Moreover, less than 50% of the respondents felt they get enough sleep every day.

There seems to be no correlation between sleep and financial security. Millions in the United Kingdom suffer from sleep problems. In fact, the latest data shows that over 23 million people experience insomnia or some form of sleep problem in the island country.

The situation is no better in the United States. A report released by the American Sleep Association has the following startling statistics:

  • Around 70 million adults in the country have reported suffering from sleep disorders. The actual number can be even higher.
  • Out of the total sleep-deprived population, 10% of them suffer chronic insomnia, and 30% struggle with short-term insomnia.
  • The study also reveals the major adverse effects of insomnia. According to the report, 37.9% of the sleep-deprived adults complain of dozing off unintentionally during the day.

From personal experience and the multiple reports perused, I can vouch that conventional methods to fight insomnia have failed. Practices such as drinking milk, playing soothing music, watching TV, reducing blue light in the bedroom, and reading don’t work. Some of these tactics may help the body and mind relax, but they aren’t enough to make you fall asleep or enjoy restful sleep.

The Science of Sleep and Consequence of Sleep Deprivation

The COVID-19 pandemic has imparted numerous lessons to us. We have learned the significance of bolstering our immune response. The immune system serves as our innate defense mechanism, safeguarding the body from harmful pathogens. It adapts its response based on the level of threat it encounters.

Similar to the immune system’s role in defense, the body operates on a natural sleep-wake cycle known as the Circadian Rhythm. Put simply, the circadian rhythm acts as a 24-hour clock, quietly guiding our bodies on when to sleep and when to awaken.

It would be remarkable if everyone adhered to their circadian rhythm. However, the body’s internal clock allows for some flexibility in this regard. Nevertheless, disregarding the signs of sleep and persisting until disruption of the circadian rhythm becomes habitual can lead to sleep disorders.

But why do we have a circadian rhythm? Sleep stands as the most crucial activity we engage in each day. While you enjoy your ‘shuteye,’ various chemical and biological processes occur to prepare the body and mind for a new day.

During sleep, the body undergoes multiple sleep cycles. Within each cycle, essential hormones are released, critical information is organized and stored in the brain, and numerous activities occur of which we remain unaware.

For instance, several hormones, including prolactin and growth hormones, are released during sleep, while the production of thyroid stimulating hormone and cortisol is inhibited. This hormonal balance during sleep ensures homeostasis, essential for biological equilibrium.

It is during sleep that the hormone melatonin plays a pivotal role. Besides inducing sleep, this hormone is renowned for its potent neuroprotective properties and its contribution to mitochondrial health, as well as the gradual aging process of both body and mind.

Sleep and cortisol levels share an inverse relationship. Chronic stress triggers the release of cortisol hormone, thereby impacting sleep. Conversely, poor sleep results in an elevated accumulation of stress hormones. This vicious cycle contributes to various health issues, including compromised immunity, memory problems, and metabolic dysregulation.

stressed woman

Consequence of Sleep Deprivation

Poor sleep can lead to increased mood swings, irritability, restlessness, and difficulty managing stress. It also hampers the ability to focus, concentrate, learn, and make quick decisions.

Insufficient sleep can affect motor skills and reflexes, posing a danger especially for drivers and operators of heavy machinery.

Sleep deprivation can cause drowsiness and daytime sleepiness, impacting overall alertness.

Sleep is vital for immune cell production, making individuals more susceptible to illness.

Chronic sleep problems are linked to hypertension, diabetes, and an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers.

Sleep deprivation can result in daytime fatigue, hindering performance both at school and work.

Poor sleep habits can disrupt hormones that regulate appetite and digestion, leading to digestive issues, bloating, stomach cramps, and more.


How Can Mushrooms Help You Sleep Better?

Mushrooms are not in the same category as sleeping pills, but they appear to fulfill the promise of providing restful sleep. This sentiment is echoed by hundreds of people who have unsuccessfully tried other methods before turning to mushrooms for sleep aid. Assurances alone were not enough for me. I had to discover how mushrooms contribute to better sleep. Here is what I found:

Melatonin Regulation: Certain bioactive compounds in mushrooms, such as Reishi, promote the release of the sleep hormone melatonin, which helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle.1

Neurotransmitter Modulation: Mushroom consumption can regulate several neurotransmitters. Certain mushrooms are rich in tryptophan, a precursor to melatonin and serotonin. Similarly, certain mushrooms induce a calming effect by modulating the release and functioning of the neurotransmitter GABA.

Stress Reduction: The adaptogenic agents in mushrooms, like Lion’s Mane, reduce stress and anxiety. Additionally, these compounds also alleviate symptoms of stress such as insomnia and frequent urination, among others. In an animal study, Lion’s Mane extract successfully managed to reduce anxiety symptoms in rodents.2

Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Action: Almost all mushrooms contain compounds known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Both oxidative stress and chronic inflammation are associated with sleep disturbances. By enhancing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities in the body, these mushrooms help promote sleep.

Immune System Modulation: Mushrooms indirectly improve sleep quality by modulating the immune system. A balanced immune response reduces inflammation, which is well-known to disrupt sleep.

Gut Health Improvement: Mushrooms are loaded with fiber that acts as a probiotic to strengthen the gut microbiome. A healthy GI tract is known to promote overall well-being, including restful sleep.3

Neuroprotective Effect: Sleep problems increase with age, and declining cognitive health can contribute to poor sleep. The compounds in mushrooms help maintain cognitive health by stimulating NGF, which supports neuron growth, maintenance, and repair.4

Top 3 Mushrooms for Better Sleep


For centuries, practitioners of traditional medicine have prescribed Reishi to treat various ailments. Most commonly, Reishi extract was used to calm the agitated mind and tonics made with Reishi proved useful in promoting sleep. Modern science, through various studies, has only validated what was already known to many – Reishi is one of the best natural sleep promoters.

Any discussion on Reishi is incomplete without mentioning its adaptogenic properties. The bioactive compounds in this mushroom help users adapt to chronic stress, a major disruptor of sleep.

Reishi extract calms the mind, relaxes the body, and reduces symptoms of anxiety. According to a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, the administration of Reishi improved non-rapid eye movement and increased sleep duration.5 Scientists also found that Reishi supplementation reduced fatigue and improved sleep quality in human subjects. Both of these findings validate the adaptogenic and sleep-promoting benefits of Reishi.

Reishi mushrooms are home to several beneficial bioactive compounds, including polysaccharides and triterpenes. The latter helps increase ganoderic acid, which is known to have a calming effect on the mind. Additionally, the former, polysaccharides, modulate immune response, which keeps sleep-disturbing inflammation in check.

As we saw in the preceding section, Reishi contains tryptophan, which is a precursor to the sleep hormone melatonin and the mood neurotransmitter serotonin. Both of these substances in the mushroom help regulate the sleep-wake cycle.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Our quest for the best sleep aid led to a second interesting discovery: Lion’s Mane Mushrooms can promote restful sleep.

Many people complain that it takes them a long time to fall asleep. A sizable chunk of the population also struggles with inadequate sleep and poor sleep quality, both leading to fatigue and difficulty in focus and concentration the next day.

The adaptogenic properties in Lion’s Mane are capable of solving these problems. Studies show that Lion’s Mane supplementation helps reach REM sleep faster and also increases the duration of REM sleep. Researchers found that these actions improved the overall sleep quality of the participants.6

The various vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and bioactive compounds in Lion’s Mane work together to create a harmonious balance between the body and mind, preparing individuals for better and longer sleep. Scientists came to this conclusion after Lion’s Mane supplementation for 4 weeks helped improve sleep quality in sleep-deprived female students.7

Lion’s Mane’s ability to relax and promote sleep is also linked to its support of Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). By increasing BDNF, the mushroom helps regulate sleep patterns resulting in faster, deeper, and more restorative sleep.

Similarly, the mushroom triggers the release of another neuroprotective agent, Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) that aids neuron regeneration and repair. These two neuroprotective agents ensure a healthy mind, resulting in fewer sleep disturbances.

Lion’s Mane is rich in bioactive compounds such as hericenones and erinacines. The former has anxiolytic properties, known for promoting a calm and relaxed state of mind. The latter supports antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which reduce oxidative stress and neuroinflammation. These actions help create an optimal environment for restful sleep.


Cordyceps is a fascinating mushroom, mainly renowned for its energy-boosting capabilities, but it’s also scientifically proven to promote sleep. How? The following facts and scientific studies will fascinate you.

Cordycepin, the primary compound in Cordyceps, bears a striking resemblance to the organic compound Adenosine. This bioactive compound is believed to relax blood vessels, improving blood flow. Similarly, it relaxes muscles, leading to a more relaxed body and mind conducive to sleep.8

Moreover, Cordyceps, which stimulates the wake-promoting compound adenosine, is also responsible for regulating it. It promotes wakefulness and higher energy during the day by increasing Adenosine levels, while at night, it reduces adenosine levels to promote sleepiness.

Furthermore, there is ample scientific evidence supporting Cordyceps as a powerful adaptogen. Cordyceps supplementation can enhance the body’s functioning, enabling it to physically and psychologically withstand stress and its symptoms.9

Cordyceps contains several sleep-supporting compounds, including polysaccharides. This potent amino acid, with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, protects overall brain health and fosters relaxation conducive to sleep.

Chronic inflammation is a significant sleep disruptor, especially as we age. The polysaccharides and other antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents in Cordyceps help combat inflammation and contribute to better sleep.

sleeping woman

Best Practices to Follow for Better Sleep

  • Follow a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up around the same time. This will help regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
  • Optimize the surrounding environment for sound sleep by reducing bright light in the room, keeping the temperature a couple of degrees lower than the outside temperature, and keeping the room clean and fresh-smelling.
  • Develop a winding-down routine by reducing blue light exposure, avoiding television or phone usage an hour or two before sleep, taking a warm bath, etc.
  • Practice meditation and breathing exercises to relax. This will help alleviate work stress and anxiety, preventing them from affecting your sleep habits.
  • Be mindful of the food you eat in the evenings. Avoid spicy, high-sugar, and high-fat meals just before bedtime. Similarly, don’t consume too much alcohol or beverages with caffeine close to bedtime.
  • Avoid long daytime naps as they may interfere with your sleep duration and quality at night. Afternoon naps should be short, no more than 20-30 minutes long.
  • Reduce physical, mental, and emotional stimulation just before bedtime. Strenuous exercise, studying for exams, office work, heated arguments, etc., can interfere with your sleep.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle by engaging in regular exercise, getting plenty of sunlight, staying hydrated, following a balanced diet, and meditating to reduce stress and anxiety.

Final Thoughts

Inadequate sleep can be attributed to several factors. Each of these factors is effectively addressed by the nutrients and bioactive compounds found in mushrooms.

The mushrooms listed here support us both physiologically and psychologically. Consuming mushrooms can help bring the body into a state of homeostasis, facilitating better sleep.

Unlike sleeping pills, mushrooms are safe, effective, and do not produce any side effects. Give these mushrooms a try, follow best practices, and share your sleep experiences with us.


  1. Qiu, Yu, et al. “Exploration of the Anti-Insomnia Mechanism of Ganoderma by Central-Peripheral Multi-Level Interaction Network Analysis.” BMC Microbiology, vol. 21, no. 1, 29 Oct. 2021,
  2. Nagano, Mayumi, et al. “Reduction of Depression and Anxiety by 4 Weeks Hericium Erinaceus Intake.” Biomedical Research (Tokyo, Japan), vol. 31, no. 4, 2010, pp. 231–7,
  3. Jayachandran, Muthukumaran, et al. “A Critical Review on Health Promoting Benefits of Edible Mushrooms through Gut Microbiota.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vol. 18, no. 9, 8 Sept. 2017, p. 1934,
  4. Kawagishi, Hirokazu, et al. “Erinacines A, B and C, Strong Stimulators of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF)-Synthesis, from the Mycelia of Hericium Erinaceum.” Tetrahedron Letters, vol. 35, no. 10, Mar. 1994, pp. 1569–1572,
  5. Cui, Xiang-Yu, et al. “Extract of Ganoderma Lucidum Prolongs Sleep Time in Rats.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 139, no. 3, Feb. 2012, pp. 796–800,
  6. Chong, Pit Shan, et al. “Therapeutic Potential of Hericium Erinaceus for Depressive Disorder.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vol. 21, no. 1, 25 Dec. 2019, p. 163,
  7. Okamura, Hisayoshi, et al. “The Effects of Hericium Erinaceus (Amyloban® 3399) on Sleep Quality and Subjective Well-Being among Female Undergraduate Students: A Pilot Study.” Personalized Medicine Universe, vol. 4, July 2015, pp. 76–78,
  8. Hu, Zhenzhen, et al. “Cordycepin Increases Nonrapid Eye Movement Sleep via Adenosine Receptors in Rats.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2013, 2013, pp. 1–8,
  9. Shashidhar, M.G., et al. “Bioactive Principles from Cordyceps Sinensis: A Potent Food Supplement – a Review.” Journal of Functional Foods, vol. 5, no. 3, July 2013, pp. 1013–1030,