While focusing on both your body and brain, choline is an important nutrient. Due to its role in acetylcholine production, it helps boost cognitive abilities, while supporting cell membranes, liver function, and more. Choline is a water-soluble nutrient, which belongs to the B-complex vitamin family.
Not only does it play an important role regarding the maintenance of a healthy nervous system, but it also promotes sleep. You can source choline from your diet, however not everyone is consuming enough. For this reason, choline supplements are available.
Why Do We Need Choline?
While focusing on our sleeping patterns, choline helps maintain smooth, healthy sleep-cycles. We naturally produce choline in our bodies, which helps to regulate our internal clock. This is known as our circadian rhythm, which is directly linked to our wake-sleep cycle. Choline can also target symptoms of depression, nerve injuries, and even PMS.
As mentioned, choline is used to make acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter plays numerous roles within our brain and body. Since neurotransmitters influence communication between various systems, they help regulate anything from hunger, to sleep, to mood.
Acetylcholine specifically, is involved in both consciousness and memory. Not only does it help induce sleep, but it promotes dreaming. When you’re asleep and dreaming, acetylcholine levels tend to be high.
Why Sleep Is So Important
On average, we spend about 25 years of our life sleeping. Although this may seem alarming, sleep is essential for overall health and cognitive functioning. In fact, many do not get enough sleep. This is why many are looking for ways to increase their quality of sleep. Sleeping pills are not generally ideal, so more natural solutions are being explored.
While we sleep, our body goes into a state of repair. Our bodies do a lot for us during the day, which is why this time is required for daily maintenance. Although possible, repairing our bodies while we’re awake is more difficult. Some of the key processes during this time, include eliminating toxins, consolidating memories, utilizing nutrients, and resetting neurotransmitter levels.
Think about when you do not sleep for even a night. You typically feel the effects, whether you feel tired, confusion, or grumpy; lack of sleep can really affect you. When individuals are continuously deficient in sleep, this can lead to significant health concerns. You will feel increased levels of fatigue, which can disrupt your mood, and make you more susceptible to illness.
If you cannot sleep, you could be experiencing a number of issues. One possibility is the potential for chemical imbalances. Our hormones drop and rise based on external factors and the time of day. Melatonin for instance, increases when your body is preparing for sleep. If you suffer from imbalances, you may struggle to maintain consistent sleeping patterns.
How Is Choline Linked to Sleep?
We now know that sleep is important for various processes and maintenance of positive health, but what does choline have to do with all this? While taking choline supplements, users are often attempting to target their brain health or memory. However, choline may also be linked to REM sleep.
As we sleep, we go through different stages. The fifth, deepest stage of sleep, is known as REM sleep (rapid eye movement). It is believed that choline is directly linked to this cycle, which is viewed as the most vital sleep state. Research supports the idea that REM sleep is responsible for processing learned information.
Choline is also associated with our ability to avoid distractions. Our stimulus barrier allows us to focus on one task, avoiding external cues while awake. The same is believed to be true for sleep. While we’re asleep, our stimulus barrier helps filter out noise, so that we can achieve REM sleep.
In terms of dreaming, choline can increase dream activity. When we process memories, acetylcholine plays a role while we sleep. When memories are processed, it creates dreams. For some, choline supplements allow individuals to remember their dreams more effectively.
Although choline has been linked to sleep, it is not recommended that you take a dosage before bed. This can actually lead to higher stimulation, forcing you to stay awake. Take your dose early in the day, as this is not meant to be a sleep-aid taken directly before bed.
Choline and Lucid Dreaming
It is believed that choline increases overall dream activity. In some cases, when users take choline supplements, they can remember their dreams more vividly. Choline supplements have also been reported, in terms of making dreams more exciting. Lucid dreams are often experienced when taking choline supplements.
When you’re in a lucid dream, you tend to be more aware. Although you will be asleep, you can become slightly conscious in terms of your dream’s content. This level of consciousness, could potentially allow you to control the circumstances of your dream.
Although we have learned so much, there is still a lot we do not fully understand. This has created some skepticism on lucid dreams. Some say that lucid dreaming may not be a state of sleep at all. Instead, it is a brief moment of wakefulness.
Regardless of conflicting views, many find lucid dreams enjoyable. For some, it allows them to visualize potential goals. While taking choline supplements, it is believed that lucid dreams become more achievable. Some great options are Alpha GPC or Citicoline.
Although this sounds like an exciting adventure, there are precautions. If you take a choline supplement late at night, it can lead to very vivid nightmares. Once again, consume your choline supplements early in the day. At this point, research suggests that choline supplementation is a potential short-term treatment for sleep. There is no evidence at this point, suggesting that it’s effective long-term. If you have any questions, please consult your healthcare provider.