I’m not sure any of us would know what Lion’s Mane is if it weren’t for Joe Rogan or the podcast advertising world at large. At once an obscure, niche edible mushroom, known for its shaggy appearance resembling a lion’s mane, today it’s increasingly one of most popular supplements out there.
It has been gaining attention from researchers and consumers alike for its potential benefits in various aspects of health, including its connection to sleep.
Its main use case, and the one best supported by research, is to support overall cognition. We include it as one of the best nootropic ingredients out there. Many awesome nootropic products including Lion’s Mane as one of many ingredients too.
This creates a bit of a conundrum with regard to sleep. On the one hand, it might help you relax and therefore sleep better. On the other, because it may contribute to focus, others say it may disrupt your sleep.
Anecdotally, there are people in both camps. Today we’ll investigate whether the claims have anything behind them. I’ll also give my personal experience based on self-experimentation because there isn’t much research out there on this particular question right now.
It should also go without saying, but we’ll say it, that if you are going to get a lion’s mane supplement, there are better ones than others. I like RealMushrooms Lion’s Mane. Yes, I get paid to say that, so do what you will with that information. You can use the code “ROMAN” for 10% off.
That said, there are other great products. To figure out which is best for you, check out our article on the best lion’s mane supplements.
Lion’s Mane, scientifically known as Hericium erinaceus, is a type of edible mushroom that grows in the wild, often on hardwood trees. Its unique appearance, with cascading spines rather than the typical mushroom cap, gives it its common name. Historically, this mushroom has been used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine for its various health benefits, like boosting the immune system and improving cognitive function.
The health benefits of Lion’s Mane can be attributed to its bioactive compounds, including hericenones, erinacine, and as you’ll see advertised, beta-glucans. These compounds are what make lion not just a typical edible mushroom you’d use in cooking, and provide the neuroprotective benefits. Because of them, Lion’s Mane can potentially affect the brain and nervous system in ways that most foods cannot.
So while there is some research, this is far from robust. Like many dietary supplements, you shouldn’t expect this to be a panacea.
The argument for lion’s mane supporting sleep isn’t a direct one. For example, in this study, improvement in sleep disorders in participants came as a result of general improvements in mood.
In other words, unlike something like magnesium, Lion’s Mane’s mechanism for potentially supporting sleep is not direct.
I know, I know this isn’t a randomized controlled trial, but I am a supplement guinea pig. I’ve taken lots of supplements and tracked how they affect things like sleep, HRV, and more.
Lion’s Mane, when I take it with other nootropics, does seem to boost my focus and flow a bit. So it’s part of my afternoon workflow stack. I actually love it for late afternoon sessions because I can feel some benefits, but unlike something like caffeine, or even a nootropic like tyrosine, I see no ill effects on my sleep.
I’ve taken Lion’s Mane as late as two hours before bed without any affects on my sleep latency (how long it takes to fall asleep) or quality.
So to answer my title question, will it help or hurt your sleep? Right now, I believe the answer is NO on both fronts.
Lion’s Mane has been associated with a variety of other possible benefits:
- Cognitive Function: Lion’s Mane is often referred to as a “nootropic” or brain booster because of its potential to enhance cognitive function. It has been found to stimulate the growth of brain cells and improve memory and concentration. I’ve covered this. This is the main use case. Adjacently, some studies investigate its role in mental health, but it’s definitely NOT suitable to treat any conditions related to mental health.
- Blood Sugar Support: Lion’s Mane may help manage diabetes symptoms by improving blood sugar control and reducing some of the side effects of high blood sugar levels. The mechanism for this is unclear, though.
- Immune System: Lion’s Mane is believed to boost the immune system by supporting intestinal immune health. If you’ve been on the health and wellness podcast grind, you’ve probably heard about the gut and its role for cognition and immune function.
Lion’s Mane can be consumed in several forms:
- Just Buy The Mushroom: Fresh Lion’s Mane mushrooms can be cooked and eaten like any other edible mushroom. They’re actually quite tasty as a side dish, mixed in salads, and other options. If you like to eat mushrooms in general, then you’ll probably like Lion’s Mane.
- Capsules: Lion’s Mane is available in capsule form. This is fine, except you’ll need to take 4-6 capsules usually, which can be annoying.
- Powder: Lion’s Mane powder can be mixed into drinks or food. Lion’s Mane coffee is super popular. I like to mix it in either oatmeal or yogurt.
The recommended dosage can vary depending on the individual and the intended use. It’s always best to consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice.
Lion’s Mane is an edible mushroom, so in general it’s very safe. Some people report some digestive distress at first.
Any other side effects appear to happen only in those who are allergic to mushrooms. So if you’re allergic to mushrooms then… don’t eat mushrooms.
Is Lion’s Mane safe to use? Yes, Lion’s Mane is generally considered safe for most people. However, those with a known mushroom allergy should avoid it.
Can Lion’s Mane improve memory? Lion’s Mane my support memory. But this was a mice study. This research isn’t strong enough in my opinion to make this claim.
Is Lion’s Mane good for ADHD? While some people use Lion’s Mane for ADHD because of its potential to protect and enhance brain function, there is no scientific evidence to support this use. Do not go off your meds just because you read about something on the internet. Talk to your healthcare provider.
Is Lion’s Mane legal? Yes, Lion’s Mane is legal to buy and use. It’s NOT anything like magic mushrooms and it won’t make you hallucinate. However, due to its rarity, it is a protected species in some countries and US states, making foraging illegal. Hooray for environmental regulation.
For more on sleep, check out our article how to improve sleep quality without sleeping more.