Mitragyna Speciosa is the botanical name for kratom a plant that is rapidly growing in popularity among herb and ethnobotanical users.
It is perhaps most well-known for its painkilling potential, but depending on the strain, region in which it was grown and the vein color, the composition and ratio of the active alkaloids, terpenes and flavonoids can result in a wide variety of discrete and distinct effects.
In this article, we will be specifically discussing kratom’s use as a potential sleep aid and will also share some information about three of the most popular strains of kratom used for helping you sink into a deep, restful sleep. Which kratom strains for sleep and from where they are sourced from?
Sleep Hygiene and Issues Related To Insomnia
There are many potential causes and reasons for occasional or chronic difficulty falling and staying asleep.
Insomnia, sleep apnea, stress and anxiety, shift work syndrome, chronic pain, restless leg syndrome and even depression are some fairly common causes of trouble getting a good night’s rest.
Sleep health (or “sleep hygiene” as it’s occasionally referred to) is vital to overall physical and mental health, a sense of wellbeing, cognition, and mood.
People’s sleep needs are different and may change as we grow older. But, in general at least seven to nine hours of sleep per night are recommended.
Supplementation with herbs, over-the-counter or prescription medication shouldn’t be the first line of defense though. Some practical tips for maintaining good sleep hygiene includes keeping a set sleep schedule (this includes weekends).
A relaxing pre-bed ritual like caffeine-free herbal teas like those containing passionflower, Valerian or chamomile, playing relaxing music or reading a book before you retire can also help.
Daily exercise is a cornerstone of good health and getting some fitness time in daily can also be helpful. Keeping your room at the proper temperature and eliminating light and sound are also useful.
Making sure you have a comfortable bed and pillows is another factor that may improve your quality of sleep. Alcohol, despite having a somewhat sedative quality can actually be bad for your sleep quality, mainly if you drink excessively.
Caffeine is another compound to stay away from. If you use caffeine whether it’s coffee, energy drinks, tea or sodas, it is best to abstain in the evening.
Electronic devices like smartphones and computer screens are another “sleep stealer.” The blue light that they emit can actually have a stimulating effect. Some people are more sensitive than others.
If you work in front of a screen all day, it might be worth your while to invest in a blue light blocking glasses or download a program like f.lux or blueshift that can slowly adjust the blue light in the screen based on the times you program.
As was mentioned earlier, depression can be a cause of occasional or regular sleep disturbance. Ironically, some antidepressants may actually make this situation worse.
Most common antidepressants, whether they are tricyclic antidepressants or serotonin reuptake inhibitors suppress rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
REM is the stage of sleep in which you dream, and it is during REM sleep that your brain basically rests and recharges. Alcohol addiction is another factor related to REM sleep-related problems.
Research On Kratom and Sleep
In the October 2015 issue of the science journal Phytomedicine, the results of a sleep analysis were published that showed that kratom alkaloid extract was not only potentially useful in combatting depression and alcohol addiction. But did so without affecting the average duration of REM episodes, total REM time, number of REM episodes or REM latency unlike fluoxetine (Prozac) which it was tested against.
Prozac “significantly suppressed all REM parameters and delayed REM latency. The Phytomedicine study concluded that kratom research might result in research aimed towards depression, alcohol abuse, and withdrawal treatment as well as sleep issues.
Dr. Nor Aini Saidin’s doctoral thesis published by a Malaysian university notes kratom’s “long use and reputation as a sleep aid and a mild tranquilizer.”
Another Malaysian paper from the Universiti Sains Malaysia by Farah Wahida Binti Suhaimi entitled Behavioral Effects And Brain Activity Of Mitragynine From Mitragyna Speciosa Korth (Kratom) On Learning And Memory Functions.
In Rats notes the EEG activity of rats treated with kratom extracts and how they affect the electrical activity of the brain including the slow wave delta band which is associated with deep sleep and unconsciousness as well as the theta band which is linked with the threshold stage of consciousness experienced in drowsiness as one drifts off to sleep that has also been connected to daydreaming and creativity.
Chronic Pain, Rls, Sleep Disturbance and Kratom
As mentioned earlier, chronic pain and restless leg syndrome are also common issues that may prevent you from achieving regular, deep and restful sleep.
There isn’t much clinical research related to restless leg syndrome and kratom, but anecdotally there are many reports in forums like the I Love Kratom forum, Reddit and even a blog at the RLS Foundation by Mary Leonhardt who has a book on the subject of kratom and RLS available on Kindle from Amazon.
As far as chronic pain goes, there is ample research related to kratom’s ability to help relieve occasional minor pain or (depending on the dose and strains) even moderate to severe chronic pain.
Everyone reacts differently to different substances and compounds, but many people dealing with sleep problems that are rooted in pain or RLS have credited kratom strains for sleep as the answer to the issues they were facing.
Kratom Strains For Sleep
Kratom is a member of the Rubiaceae family, which makes it a cousin to coffee. Despite this, it does not contain any caffeine.
If you read up on kratom, you’ll find that its effects vary as much as the reasons different people use it. Some people use it to treat lethargy related to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or fibromyalgia, for instance.
Considering that it is related to coffee and used as a stimulant by some to boost energy levels it may seem counterintuitive to use kratom to help rest, but it’s really all about the phytochemical makeup of the specific variety of kratom you are using.
Many of the alkaloids in kratom and Corynantheidine based compounds, some of which are similar or identical to those found in Yohimbe a plant used as an aphrodisiac, a workout supplement and energizing stimulant.
At the same time though, other compounds in kratom may act as sedatives, muscle relaxers and can even lower blood pressure. High blood pressure and muscle tension can be associated with sleep issues as well, so relieving these physical symptoms may ease one into the right physical state for bed.
If you are going to supplement kratom for help sleeping you’ll want to stay away from white veins which are the most stimulating and, in fact, it is probably best to stick with red vein only for this purpose.
Red-veined kratom leaves are the most sedating, but there some qualifiers here too. Not just any old red vein is necessarily suitable for this purpose. Steer clear of horned vein leaves.
Horned vein kratom specimens are generally more energizing and stimulating. Certain regions are known as more stimulating as well so even a red-veined Sumatra, or Thai may add a bit of energy, and if you’re already prone to problems falling asleep, this won’t be the best choice.
Below you will find some suggestions for sleep-inducing Kratom strains that are frequently favorited by long-time users.
1) Red Borneo Kratom Strain for Sleep
- Borneo kratom is sourced from the island of Borneo near Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei.
- Borneo kratom is known as one of the most relaxing strains and is also a favorite for those who deal with chronic pain.
- Red-veined Borneo is also mood lifting, so for sleep issues that are associated with pain, depression or anxiety and stress Borneo may be an excellent choice.
2) Red Bentuangie Kratom Strain for Sleep
- Sourced from the deep jungles of Indonesia and sometimes known as “tropical blend.”
- Only mildly sedating but supremely relaxing so a perfect choice for those who have anxiety, stress or racing thoughts that prevent falling asleep.
- One of the longer-lasting strains of kratom, so potentially a good choice to take a few hours before you plan to go to bed with another strain like Borneo or Bali taken just before you plan to fall asleep.
3) Red Bali Kratom Strain for Sleep
- Bali kratom is said to be a hybrid variety that originated from the Borneo strain. It hails from the island of Bali.
- Bali is one of the most plentiful varieties of kratom and is often one of the most affordable, especially compared to certain rare strains or Maeng Da material.
- Like the Borneo region kratom, it is especially popular with users who are supplementing for pain, anxiety or insomnia.
- Fast acting, but one of the shortest durations but, if used for sleep this shouldn’t be a problem.
- One of the most potent strains, so be careful with your dosage to prevent any nausea.
Another tip may be combining strains to get a higher spectrum of overall alkaloids contributing to the effects. This can also prevent tolerance associated with “stale strain syndrome.”
Kratom is dose dependent with smaller amounts often having a more stimulating effect, but with the strains listed here (or any blend of them) that shouldn’t be an issue. If you haven’t used kratom before, you might want to test with just around a couple of grams (a teaspoon or so).
If you’re starting with Bali, you might even want to stick with only 1 to 1.5 grams as too much of the Bali has a potential for some gastric distress. As mentioned, everyone reacts differently so you will want to test for yourself which varieties work best for you for what purpose.