by Siim Land
We all have a bad night’s sleep every once in a while. It’s perfectly normal to sometimes wake up too early, go to bed too late or just not feel recovered enough for some other reason. Unfortunately, when these things become chronic as in 10-40% of the population, they can start to affect your overall life and wellbeing in a very negative way.
- Insulin resistance
- Weight gain
- Poor performance
Are only a few of the consequences of lackluster sleep. (2,3,4).
I personally have experimented with polyphasic sleep wherein I slept for 2.5 hours + 3x 20-min naps every day for 100 days. Albeit I was able to function at a bare minimum level, my performance and ability to progress in whatever I was doing was greatly impeded. Nowadays I go out of my own way to really optimize the quality of my sleep in every way possible.
Just sleeping enough or having a warm bath before bed may not always do the trick. That’s because to get quality sleep you need to prime your brain to produce the right neurotransmitters and go through the necessary stages of sleep. Medications for sleep can also cause dependency and other unwanted side-effects.(5,6). Fortunately, there is a healthy alternative found in the mushroom kingdom already.
Introducing Reishi for Sleep
In Ancient China, Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) or Lingzhi was called ‘the immortality mushroom.(7). Lingzhi translates into ‘divine mushroom’.(8) Reishi contains different kinds of secondary metabolites, such as bioactive polysaccharides, beta-glucans, and over 150 various terpenoids.(9,10). Studies on reishi have found it to promote some medicinal effects, such as reduction in hypertension, blood sugar, and triglycerides, enhancement in immune system functioning, and antioxidant activity. (11,12,13,14,15).
Reishi is most commonly used for sleep and dreaming. There are several studies indicating that Ganoderma lucidum has a positive impact on sleep architecture, sleep duration, sleep stage co-ordination and overall recovery.(16,17,18,19,20,21). Reishi also exerts anti-insomnia effects by interacting with multiple networks in the body, starting with the pineal gland inside the brain and ending with peripheral organs, such as the liver and heart.(22) Why does reishi improve sleep is not fully understood yet but it primarily has to do with neurotransmitters.
- Sedative effect via GABA (23)
- Increased 5-HT and thus serotonin levels through gut metabolites and bacteria (24)
- Amelioration of neurotransmitter oxidative stress (25)
- Reduction in spontaneous movement during sleep(26)
- Prolong overall sleep duration(27)
- Reduce sleep latency or how long it takes to fall asleep
Source: Qiu et al (2021)
Here is an overview on the effects of reishi on sleep seen in studies:
One personal experience that me and a lot of other people who’ve used reishi have had is that this mushroom gives you very vivid and rememberable dreams.
Every time I take it before bed I’m dreaming throughout the night. The dreams are even mildly lucid, hence the name Ganoderma lucidum, with me being able to acknowledge them in real time to a certain degree. Reishi has been found to have 34 active hypnotic compounds that interact with 51 sleep-related target genes. (28). (Look at figure) That can explain this phenomenon everyone I’ve talked to about this also has experienced. Whenever I want to get a good night’s sleep that’s deep and rejuvenating, I take a few hundred milligrams of reishi by Mighty Fungi.
Source: Qiu et al (2021)
Reishi and Circadian Rhythm Optimization
As discussed, sleep is incredibly vital for overall health and performance. That’s why you want to optimize it. However, taking certain supplements or medication in isolation is only a short-term fix. That’s why you want to also work on fixing your body’s overarching sleep architecture and structure.
Sleep quality and duration are directly linked to the circadian rhythms. They’re the body’s diurnal rhythms connected to the day and night cycles of the environment.(29) Being aligned with these rhythms keeps the body in balance and health, whereas disruptions are linked with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. (30). To maintain that synchrony of optimal health, you need to establish a regular sleep schedule and facilitate good sleep wherein you go through all the sleep stages (from wakefulness into NREM and REM sleep).
Reishi has been found to promote the integrity of the natural sleep cycle and lengthen overall sleep.(31,32). That helps you to get all the necessary sleep stages in adequate amounts and prevent the side-effects of sleep shortage. From a circadian rhythm side, you will still need to be diurnal – stay awake during the day and sleep at night – but with the right sleep structure you will be able to maintain it.
Here's how to optimize your sleep and circadian rhythm with the help of reishi:
- Morning bright light exposure, preferably from the sun, to kickstart the circadian rhythm
- In the evening, 1 hour before bed, minimize artificial blue and green light as it inhibits melatonin production and reduces sleep quality
- Start winding down 1-2 hours before bed
- Take 200-400 mg of reishi by Mighty Fungi 30 min before bed with water
- Sleep in a completely dark and cooler environment
That’s why reishi is my favorite mushroom – it’s super effective in facilitating dreaming and helps with overall sleep quality. I highly recommend everyone to try it out at least once to experience the dreams.
Improve your quality of sleep, get yours!
2 Ibarra-Coronado et al (2015) 'The Bidirectional Relationship between Sleep and Immunity against Infections', Journal of Immunology Research, Volume 2015 |Article ID 678164 | 14 pages | https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/678164
3 Harvard Medical School 'Harvard Heart Letter examines the costs of not getting enough sleep', Accessed Online: https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/sleep_deprivation_problem.htm
5 Besag, F., Vasey, M. J., Lao, K., & Wong, I. (2019). Adverse Events Associated with Melatonin for the Treatment of Primary or Secondary Sleep Disorders: A Systematic Review. CNS drugs, 33(12), 1167–1186. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40263-019-00680-w
8 Sanodiya, B. S., Thakur, G. S., Baghel, R. K., Prasad, G. B., & Bisen, P. S. (2009). Ganoderma lucidum: a potent pharmacological macrofungus. Current pharmaceutical biotechnology, 10(8), 717–742. https://doi.org/10.2174/138920109789978757
9 Batra, P., Sharma, A. K., & Khajuria, R. (2013). Probing Lingzhi or Reishi medicinal mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (higher Basidiomycetes): a bitter mushroom with amazing health benefits. International journal of medicinal mushrooms, 15(2), 127–143. https://doi.org/10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i2.20
11 Gao, Y., Zhou, S., Jiang, W., Huang, M., & Dai, X. (2003). Effects of ganopoly (a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract) on the immune functions in advanced-stage cancer patients. Immunological investigations, 32(3), 201–215. https://doi.org/10.1081/imm-120022979
15 Chu, T. T., Benzie, I. F., Lam, C. W., Fok, B. S., Lee, K. K., & Tomlinson, B. (2012). Study of potential cardioprotective effects of Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi): results of a controlled human intervention trial. The British journal of nutrition, 107(7), 1017–1027. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114511003795
16 Cui, X. Y., Cui, S. Y., Zhang, J., Wang, Z. J., Yu, B., Sheng, Z. F., Zhang, X. Q., & Zhang, Y. H. (2012). Extract of Ganoderma lucidum prolongs sleep time in rats. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 139(3), 796–800. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2011.12.020
17 Chu, Q.-P., Wang, L.-E., Cui, X.-Y., Fu, H.-Z., Lin, Z.-B., Lin, S.-Q., & Zhang, Y.-H. (2007). Extract of Ganoderma lucidum potentiates pentobarbital-induced sleep via a GABAergic mechanism. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 86(4), 693–698. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2007.02.015
18 Jiang et al (2007) ‘Study on dosage of oral solution of the complex prescription ganoderma lucidumfor improvement of sleep function’ Department of Preventive Medicine,Yanbian University College of Basic Medicine,Yanji 133000,Jilin,China)
19 Tang, W., Gao, Y., Chen, G., Gao, H., Dai, X., Ye, J., Chan, E., Huang, M., & Zhou, S. (2005). A randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study of a Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide extract in neurasthenia. Journal of medicinal food, 8(1), 53–58. https://doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2005.8.53
20 Qiu, Y., Mao, Z. J., Ruan, Y. P., & Zhang, X. (2021). Exploration of the anti-insomnia mechanism of Ganoderma by central-peripheral multi-level interaction network analysis. BMC microbiology, 21(1), 296. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12866-021-02361-5
21 Feng, X., & Wang, Y. (2019). Anti-inflammatory, anti-nociceptive and sedative-hypnotic activities of lucidone D extracted from Ganoderma lucidum. Cellular and molecular biology (Noisy-le-Grand, France), 65(4), 37–42.
22 Qiu, Y., Mao, Z. J., Ruan, Y. P., & Zhang, X. (2021). Exploration of the anti-insomnia mechanism of Ganoderma by central-peripheral multi-level interaction network analysis. BMC microbiology, 21(1), 296. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12866-021-02361-5
23 Chu, Q. P., Wang, L. E., Cui, X. Y., Fu, H. Z., Lin, Z. B., Lin, S. Q., & Zhang, Y. H. (2007). Extract of Ganoderma lucidum potentiates pentobarbital-induced sleep via a GABAergic mechanism. Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior, 86(4), 693–698. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2007.02.015
24 Yao, C., Wang, Z., Jiang, H. et al. Ganoderma lucidum promotes sleep through a gut microbiota-dependent and serotonin-involved pathway in mice. Sci Rep 11, 13660 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-92913-6
25 Sharma, P., & Tulsawani, R. (2020). Ganoderma lucidum aqueous extract prevents hypobaric hypoxia induced memory deficit by modulating neurotransmission, neuroplasticity and maintaining redox homeostasis. Scientific Reports, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-65812-5
26 Socala, K., Nieoczym, D., Grzywnowicz, K., Stefaniuk, D., & Wlaz, P. (2015). Evaluation of Anticonvulsant, Antidepressant-, and Anxiolytic-like Effects of an Aqueous Extract from Cultured Mycelia of the Lingzhi or Reishi Medicinal Mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (Higher Basidiomycetes) in Mice. International journal of medicinal mushrooms, 17(3), 209–218. https://doi.org/10.1615/intjmedmushrooms.v17.i3.10
27 Cui, X. Y., Cui, S. Y., Zhang, J., Wang, Z. J., Yu, B., Sheng, Z. F., Zhang, X. Q., & Zhang, Y. H. (2012). Extract of Ganoderma lucidum prolongs sleep time in rats. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 139(3), 796–800. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2011.12.020
28 Qiu, Y., Mao, Z.-J., Ruan, Y.-P., & Zhang, X. (2021). Exploration of the anti-insomnia mechanism of Ganoderma by central-peripheral multi-level interaction network analysis. BMC Microbiology, 21(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12866-021-02361-5
30 Garcia-Saenz, A. et al (2018) 'Evaluating the Association between Artificial Light-at-Night Exposure and Breast and Prostate Cancer Risk in Spain (MCC-Spain Study)', Environmental Health Perspectives, 126 (04).
31 Yao, C., Wang, Z., Jiang, H., Yan, R., Huang, Q., Wang, Y., Xie, H., Zou, Y., Yu, Y., & Lv, L. (2021). Ganoderma lucidum promotes sleep through a gut microbiota-dependent and serotonin-involved pathway in mice. Scientific Reports, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-92913-6
32 Chu, Q. P., Wang, L. E., Cui, X. Y., Fu, H. Z., Lin, Z. B., Lin, S. Q., & Zhang, Y. H. (2007). Extract of Ganoderma lucidum potentiates pentobarbital-induced sleep via a GABAergic mechanism. Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior, 86(4), 693–698. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2007.02.015