Lion’s Mane and Its Potential Role in Improving REM Sleep

Hericium erinaceous is an edible mushroom that belongs to the tooth fungus group. It has its medicinal and culinary uses and can be eaten cooked, raw, dried, steeped as a tea, or made into an extract for health supplements. It is called by many names – like pom-pom mushroom, bearded tooth fungus, monkey head mushroom, bearded hedgehog, and satyr’s beard – but it is most notably known as Lion’s Mane because of its white, shaggy form that resembles a lion’s mane.

Thes popular edibles are native to Asia, Europe, and North America. Still, they can be grown almost anywhere in the world. Famous for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, Lion’s Mane is widely used as a natural medicine to help improve cognitive function in addition to many other health benefits.

A plethora of health benefits

This “smart mushroom” is the only non-psychedelic mushroom with compounds that are said to help promote brain growth as well as synapse and neuron repair.

Here are some potential health benefits to taking Lion’s Mane:

·         Relieves mild symptoms of anxiety and depression

·         Prevents the development of dementia

·         Speeds up recovery from injuries in the nervous system

·         Helps fight cancer

·         Reduces risk of heart disease

·         Relieves inflammation

·         Improves the immune system

Because of the many possible benefits to the body, especially for brain function, it is no wonder that the “lobster of the woods” (nicknamed after its seafood-like taste) is also a favourable remedy for people who need a good night’s sleep.

Better than CBD (Cannabidiol) for sleep?

YouTube vlogger Katie Type A conducted her own two-week experiment on Lion’s Mane tincture vs. CBD oil, a Cannabidiol extract from the cannabis plant, and their effects on sleep. The results showed that Lion’s Mane had more effects in her REM (rapid eye movement) sleep than deep sleep while taking CBD had increased effects in her deep sleep than REM sleep.

Perhaps the most crucial finding in her experiment is that with the REM sleep improved through Lion’s Mane, as research dictates, the brain’s ability to learn and form new memories is, as well, refined.

Why REM sleep is important

REM sleep is the fourth and deepest stage of sleep. During this stage, which happens about 90 minutes after the first stage, the eyes rapidly move in all directions. While the body is at rest, the brain is fully active. It is at this stage that one also gets to experience vivid dreaming.

REM sleep is good for the brain. An average, healthy adult should spend around 20-25% of their time asleep in this stage. This means that if they get seven to eight hours of sleep, their REM sleep should be about 90 minutes.

Net getting enough REM sleep is an indication of sleep deprivation, which poses a higher risk of developing the following health conditions:

·         Dementia

·         Cancer

·         Obesity

·         Type-2 diabetes

·         Depression

·         Cardiovascular disease

Sleep deprivation may even have a hand at causing migraine headaches.

Thus, improving REM sleep boosts brain activity, growth, and memory. With the help of Lion’s Mane, this could be achieved.

Mushrooms as medicine

There is still a need for further human studies to confirm the findings and claims on some of Lion’s Mane’s benefits, which is why renowned American mycologist and author Paul Stamets has long pushed and advocated for mushrooms to play a huge role in the future of medicine. In one of his many talks, he recounted his mother’s struggle with breast cancer and the wonderful effects the Turkey Tail mushroom had in prolonging her life. In a video podcast, Stamets shared research findings on Lion’s Mane repairing brain function to test subjects with common symptoms of dementia.

Will it work for me?

After reading up about all the good things Lion’s Mane can do for the body and brain, perhaps the question on everyone’s mind is: “Will it work for me?” While some report these positive effects on their sleep and overall health, some barely notice anything different. This could mean that the medicinal mushroom affects people differently. Therefore, before buying any product, make sure to consult with an expert. Seek the counsel of a medical doctor prior to taking any medicinal mushrooms, especially together with medication, to see if they can result in any unwanted side effects on the body.

Read more expert advice on health, fitness, and well-being here.

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