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Sleep Supports Lyme Treatment

Sleep is often disturbed in chronic Lyme disease. Lack of adequate sleep

  • worsens pain,
  • causes fatigue,
  • increases inflammatory cytokines, and
  • suppresses the immune system.

It appears that in response to infection, the excess inflammatory cytokines produced by the immune system disturb the sleep centers of the brain. A restorative amount of sleep is 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Sleep during the few hours before midnight is most restorative.

Before trying the natural sleep medicines outlined in this article, be sure to follow the recommendations in Sleep in Lyme Disease. The Basic Steps. It is most important to follow the recommendations on lowering cytokines and sleep hygiene. If you are looking for information about prescription slee medicines see Sleep: The Prescription Medicines.

Marty Ross MD Discusses Supplements & Herbs for Sleep

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Natural Medicines for Sleep in Lyme Disease Treatment

A variety of herbs can support sleep as can prescriptive medicines. Often given the severity of the sleep disturbances seen in chronic Lyme disease, prescriptive options are necessary. It is common to layer supplements and prescriptive medicines together.

Curcumin lowers inflammatory cytokines made by the immune system that cause dysfunction of the sleep centers of the brain. It is an essential herb for any natural or prescription sleep regimen.

Herbs and nutrients that may induce sleep do so through a variety of mechanisms. Some like l-theanine and 5-hydroxy-tryptophan (5-HTP) raise neurotransmitters that induce sleep. Others, like valerian root, interact with GABA brain receptors on nerves that induce sleep. Some sleep herbal combination products include a variety of sleep herbs like valerian, wild lettuce, l-theanine, passion flower and hops. The hormone melatonin is produced by the brain in relation to light exposure. Day-time light suppresses its production. Before sleep time, there is a natural surge in production which induces sleep. Melatonin seems to work best in those with sleep cycle disturbances. It helps restore a natural sleep cycle if it is taken 1 hour before the designated sleep time. To correct sleep cycle disturbances move the designated sleep time back slowly in 15 minute increments every 3 to 7 days.

Sleep Options

Try any of the following herbs alone or in combination. Curcumin is essential and should always be used. Be careful when mixing the L-theanine products. Try to limit the total l-theanine a night to no more than 600 mg. Each product should help within 1 to 2 nights. If one helps partially but not all the way consider taking it in combination with another. If the herbs do not work, then see your healthcare practitioner for prescription sleep medications to obtain 7-9 hours of sleep a night.

  • Curcumin 500 mg 1 pill 3 times a day. Use a liposomal form for best results. Liposomal forms are better absorbed. 
  • Melatonin 1 mg or 3 mg 1 hour before the designated sleep time. Find the dose that works best.  Do not exceed 9mg a night. Do not take during the day due to cancer risk.
  • 5-Hydroxy-tryptophan 50 mg 4 to 8 pills 1 hour before bed. Start at 4 pills and increase nightly by 1 pill till to a maximum of 8 pills if needed. (Warning: Do not take if using antidepressant prescriptive medications because this could result in very high serotonin levels in the brain which could result in death.)
  • L-Theanine 100 mg 1 to 6 pills a night 1 hour before bed. Do not exceed 1,200 mg a day if using for nerve pain or anxiety during the day, as well. Excessive amounts in the day are very sedating. 
  • Herbal Sleep Combination 1 to 2 pills 1 hour before bed. (Common herbs in sleep combination pills include valerian root, lemon balm, passionflower, hops, yams, wild lettuce, L-theanine, and others.)

Layer Them Up for Better Effect

For more difficult sleep issues try combinations of L-theanine, 5 hydroxy-tryptophan, an herbal sleep combination, melatonin and curcumin. You could also include a THC containing medical marijuana product. 

Medical Marijuana for Sleep

Read Medical Marijuana, Cannabis, & CBD for Lyme for additional information about how to use medical marijuana for sleep. Note it can be mixed with the supplements and herbs above.


The ideas and recommendations on this website and in this article are for informational purposes only. For more information about this, see the sitewide Terms & Conditions.


View Citations

  1. Gulcubuk A, et al. Effects of curcumin on proinflammatory cytokines and tissue injury in the early and late phases of experimental acute pancreatitis.. Pancreatology. 13(4):347-354.
  2. Krysta K, Krzystanek M, Bratek A, Krupka-Matuszczyk I. Sleep and inflammatory markers in different psychiatric disorders. Journal of Neural Transmission. 2017;124(Suppl 1):179-186. doi:10.1007/s00702-015-1492-3.
  3. Lu K,  Gray MA,  Oliver C,  Liley DT,  Harrison BJ, Bartholomeus CF, Phan K L,  Nathan PJ. The acute effects of Lā€theanine in comparison with alprazolam on anticipatory anxiety in humans. Hum. Psychopharmacol. Clin. Exp. 2004;19:457-465. doi:10.1002/hup.611
  4. Lyon MR, Kapoor MP, Juneja LR. The effects of L-theanine (Suntheanine(R)) on objective sleep quality in boys with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Altern. Med. Rev. 2011;16(4):348–354.
  5. Liu L, Liu C, Wang Y, Wang P, Li Y, Li B. Herbal Medicine for Anxiety, Depression and Insomnia. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2015;13(4):481–493. doi:10.2174/1570159X130415083112273.
  6. Gooneratne NS. Complementary and alternative medicine for sleep disturbances in older adults. Clin Geriatr Med. 2008;24(1):121–viii. doi:10.1016/j.cger.2007.08.002
  7. Romero K, Goparaju B, Russo K, Westover MB, Bianchi MT. Alternative remedies for insomnia: a proposed method for personalized therapeutic trials. Nat Sci Sleep. 2017;9:97–108. Published 2017 Mar 17. doi:10.2147/NSS.S128095
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About The Author

Marty Ross, MD is a passionate Lyme disease educator and clinical expert. He helps Lyme sufferers and their physicians see what really works based on his review of the science and extensive real-world experience. Dr. Ross is licensed to practice medicine in Washington State (License: MD00033296) where he has treated thousands of Lyme disease patients in his Seattle practice.

Marty Ross, MD is a graduate of Indiana University School of Medicine and Georgetown University Family Medicine Residency. He is a member of the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The Institute for Functional Medicine, and The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M).

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