Phosphatidylserine and Sleep – What’s the Connection?

How does PS help us improve our brain function? Furthermore, what is the connection between phosphatidylserine and sleep?

In a nutshell, it’s because PS is a raw ingredient needed for the growth of new cells, including brain cells.

This means that PS is excellent for improving overall brain health.

However, PS is far from being a one-trick pony.

Phosphatidylserine and Sleep - What's the Connection - Pony Doing a Trick

PS as a nootropic provides increased mental energy, improved memory, enhanced focus, better communication skills, and resistance to fatigue, especially due to stress factors.

All of these advantages are the direct result of PS augmenting mental flexibility and vitality.  In other words, your neuroplasticity.

But how does PS accomplish all of this?  What are the inner workings at play? And how does it help us sleep better?

Let’s find out…

What is Phosphatidylserine? – How does it Improve Brain Health?

PS is a phospholipid, which is a scientific term for a type of fluid fat.

The cells in our body are basically oil droplets, or vesicles, with several working components that regulate their operation.

Phosphatidylserine and Sleep - What's the Connection - Oil Droplets on Glass

In other words, if the membranes of our cells could be compared to a wall, PS would be the bricks and mortar.

It’s the raw material.

PS is used to repair damaged cells, and is also crucial for the creation of new cells.

This might seem like a pretty boring job in terms of duties that need to be carried out in the human body; the equivalent of being a security guard at a mall.

However, the consequences of not having enough PS in our daily diet can be quite severe, especially for brain function.

Phosphatidylserine Benefits – Energy Enhancement & Mental Flexibility

Supplementing with PS can provide very significant advantages to our cognitive capacities.

There are 2 major ways PS achieves these positive effects:

  • Increasing Brain Metabolism
  • Improving Neuroplasticity

Research has revealed that supplementing with PS encourages accelerated reproduction not just of brain cells, but of mitochondria as well.

Phosphatidylserine and Sleep - What's the Connection - Neurons

Mitochondria are tiny organelles that are found inside the cells of every complex organism in the world.

Humans, tigers, fish, all have mitochondria in their cells.

Mitochondria process energy sources like glucose with the use of enzymes, and provide about 90% of the chemical energy needed for cells to survive.

In terms of energy consumption, the human brain is extremely expensive real estate.  Eating up almost 1/3 of our daily caloric needs.

Not surprisingly, brain cells are absolutely stuffed with mitochondria.

A single neuron can contain thousands of them, and when additional PS is provided, energy metabolism in the brain can be increased by over 20%.

That’s pretty exciting stuff if you ask me, but we’re just getting warmed up here.

Now we need to look at how PS improves neuroplasticity, and what that entails.

Phosphatidylserine for the Brain – Rebuilding Neurons!

Phosphatidylserine and Sleep - What's the Connection - Nerve Network

Phosphatidylserine accounts for about 15% of brain cell membranes.  That means PS plays a major role in neuron health, and is used as a building block compound for brain cell:

  • Reproduction
  • Repair
  • Maintenance

The presence of additional PS in the brain also increases the density of receptors at the synapses, builds more connections between neurons, and improves membrane fluidity.

When there are more receptors on the surface of the brain cell membranes, neurotransmitters are detected more readily, and nerve impulses are sent faster.

Increased communication between brain cells translates to enhanced thought processing and acuity.

Phosphatidylserine and Sleep - What's the Connection - Enhanced Mental Acuity

The extra flexibility of the membranes also allows nutrients and oxygen to be exchanged more easily.

At the end of the day, what this translates to is a much improved state of efficiency in the brain.

There’s a lot of synergy created with all of these effects happening at the same time.

Brain Optimization – Einstein would have Loved this Stuff!

The benefits of increasing cellular metabolism and neuroplasticity in the brain are very broad in scope, and can have a huge effect on your day to day life.

PS supplementation can help optimize:

  • Energy Levels
  • Learning Ability
  • Working Memory
  • Attention
  • Mental Clarity
  • Verbal Communication
  • Mood
  • Athletic Performance

There are also gains to be had for the central nervous system when the body has access to more Phosphatidylserine.

Phosphatidylserine and Sleep - What's the Connection - Nervous System

The nerves in the body are kind of like insulated wires, only the outside sheath is the conducting material in nerve tissue, instead of the inside.

The outside sheath is myelin.

Myelin is a fiber composed of protein and phospholipids, and it allows electrical impulses to travel faster and more smoothly along the nerves.

When myelin starts to break down, disorders like multiple sclerosis can be the result.

PS supports the maintenance of myelin, thereby ensuring that nerve impulses can travel to their various destinations without interruption.

Vitamin B12 also helps with myelin repair, and is often included in nootropic stacks for this reason.

Phosphatidylserine and Sleep - What's the Connection - Myelin Sheath

So we’ve looked at how providing structural support to the nervous system can improve nerve health in general.

Now let’s dig a bit deeper to unveil how PS enhances the vitality of the brain.

Phosphatidylserine – Mechanisms of Action

PS further optimizes brain function by encouraging the production of more Nerve Growth Factor (NGF).

Generally speaking, the presence of more NGF translates to increased neurogenesis, or healthier nerve tissue and brain cells.

Phosphatidylserine also contains Choline, which can be used to produce the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine.

Acetylcholine was the first neurotransmitter ever discovered, and plays a key role in memory, cognition, and mood regulation.

Phosphatidylserine and Sleep - What's the Connection - Acetylcholine for Optimization

Brain health is further maintained with the removal of dying cells.  When a brain cell starts to shut down, it can become toxic to neighboring cells.

PS signals the immune system to dispose of it before that can happen.

Not only does PS trigger the immune response, but it manages to prevent inflammation from occurring in the process.

This protects the surrounding cells from being damaged by metabolic waste, or a severe immune system response.

Which brings us to our next topic of discussion.

Phosphatidylserine for Stress

Studies have also found evidence that PS may have some neuroprotective properties.

Phosphatidylserine and Sleep - What's the Connection - Neuro Shield Illustration

PS appears to have the ability to modulate the release of the stress hormone Cortisol.

Eliminating stress factors during times of intense concentration prevents distraction, and provides better focus.  It can also improve mood, and reduce mental fatigue.

The ability to suppress the negative effects of Cortisol can also augment physical endurance.

As a result, PS has been the subject of many studies looking at its’ potential as a performance enhancer for athletes.

Taken into account as a whole, I think these effects do a good job of explaining how PS can improve not just working memory, but long-term memory and learning capacity all at the same time.

Phosphatidylserine and Sleep - What's the Connection - Girl Reading Glowing Book

In fact, PS has been found to be very effective in treating ADHD symptoms.

Phosphatidylserine for ADHD – Is it Safe for Kids?

In one randomized double blind clinical study, 36 children age 4-14 years were given either 200 mg of PS, or a placebo for 2 months.

The children were tested for auditory memory and working memory, as well as attention control and impulsivity.

Significant improvements were seen in concentration, learning ability, and social behaviors.  The placebo group showed no changes.

PS was also very well tolerated by all of the test subjects (which was expected since it’s naturally occurring in the human body), and no adverse reactions were noted.

The researchers concluded that phosphatidylserine is an excellent treatment for ADHD symptoms in children because of it’s effectiveness and safety.

Phosphatidylserine and Sleep - What's the Connection - Children Celebrating Silhouettes

Very exciting stuff for parents with kids that have ADHD or ADD!

Last but not least, I wanted to talk about how phosphatidylserine can benefit sleep patterns and sleep quality.

Phosphatidylserine for Sleep – Does it Help?

The risk of sleep issues actually goes back to Alzheimer’s disease, Cortisol regulation, depression, and diet.

The onset of Alzheimer’s disease is closely associated with the buildup of proteins in the brain called amyloid plaques.

Essentially, these globs of protein gum up your brain, and prevent it from working properly.

It has been recently discovered that the human brain has a network of fluid channels called the glymphatic system that keep the brain clean and deliver nutrients.

Phosphatidylserine and Sleep - What's the Connection - Glymphatic System in the Brain Abstract

However, the glymphatic system only works while we’re asleep.  It’s now believed this is the reason we feel ‘refreshed’ after a good nights’ sleep.

Waste has been flushed out of the brain and essential compounds like glucose have been delivered to the cells that need it.

Alzheimer’s disease can also manifest itself as a result of poor nutrition.  Diets high in refined sugars, salt, and animal fats can increase AD risk.

This is because these foods can disturb the circadian rythm, and the normal regulation of Cortisol in the body.  This of course can lead to sleep deprivation, and ultimately depression.

Fortunately, researchers have found that eating more fruits and vegetables, and taking PS either on its’ own or with an omega-3 supplement can counteract all of these negative effects.

This is of course due to the structural support PS provides to the nervous system, and all of the positive effects that naturally result.

Phosphatidylserine and Sleep - What's the Connection - Scintillating Brain Function Illustration

So now that we have established just how useful PS is to brain health, what are our options for using it as a nootropic supplement?

Phosphatidylserine Dosage – Recommendations for Best Results

Phosphatidylserine is available either as a tablet or in capsule form.

The ideal recommended dosage is 100 mg taken 3 times per day initially, and this amount can be reduced to only 100 mg/day later on once extra PS has built up in your system.

Athletes can safely take up to 800 mg/day to boost physical endurance and stay mentally sharp.

PS was originally extracted from cow brains back in the day, but is now derived from plant sources like soybeans, or sunflower lecithin.

Phosphatidylserine and Sleep - What's the Connection - Curious Cow

Mad Cow disease made animal sourcing of PS unpopular.

Side effects from PS are extremely rare, and when they do occur it is usually at dosages higher than the recommended intakes.

Symptoms are typically mild stomach upset, insomnia, and gas.

Safe levels for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers have not yet been established, so it is generally recommended to abstain from PS supplementation during these times just to be cautious.

Medications used for glaucoma or Alzheimer’s disease may also raise Acetylcholine levels, so taking PS at the same time can increase the chances of experiencing negative side effects.

You can reference specific medications that can potentially interact with PS using this link.

Phosphatidylserine and Sleep - What's the Connection - Cocktail of Tablets

Finally, PS may thin the blood slightly, so if you are taking blood thinners, please consult with your doctor before supplementing with PS.

Phosphatidylserine – Final Recommendations

Phosphatidylserine is commonly found in foods like soy, egg yolks, and organ meats, but it is poorly absorbed from these sources.

PS levels in the brain also tend to decrease as we age.

Supplementing with plant sources of PS is therefore recommended for improvements in neuroplasticity, general mental health, athletic performance, and mood.

PS has been found to be effective at improving memory in elderly patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and other Mild Cognitive Impairments(MCI’s).

Phosphatidylserine and Sleep - What's the Connection - Male Senior with Quizzical Look

However, PS supplementation isn’t just for seniors, or people dealing with MCI’s.  Anyone that wants to improve their brain health can benefit from PS.

Case in point, one study on children with ADHD found that PS supplementation significantly improved short-term auditory memory, attention, and issues with impulsivity.

It’s important to note that PS is recognized as being very safe to use, and that’s why it’s been given the green light for use with ADHD kids.

In fact, it’s was approved by the FDA for the treatment of MCI’s in elderly patients in May of 2003.

And as of this writing, The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) authority is also about to follow suit.

This would allow food producers in Australia and New Zealand to include PS in food grade products for the improvement of brain health and cognition.

So who can supplement with PS?  Pretty much anybody.

PS truly is one of the best supplements for neuroplasticity we know of today.

Last but not least, phosphatidylserine is very useful as a natural sleep aid.

Phosphatidylserine and Sleep - What's the Connection - Jaguar Sleeping on a Tree Branch

I would say that it’s an essential addition to any good stack.

Thanks for reading, and if you think of any questions about PS, please post a comment below.

In my next article, I will be looking at one of my favorite herbal nootropics, Ginseng!

Until next time,



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22 thoughts on “Phosphatidylserine and Sleep – What’s the Connection?”

  1. A very interesting post, and sounds like you really know your stuff.

    Never heard of Phosphatidylserine before, but it sounds like something that would be great for disorders like MS and Dementia, and improving your learning ability.

    You have given me something to think about, for sure.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Michael,

    I have tried several brain health supplements in my life, but none of them had PS in their formulation.  I guess the field of nootropics has grown since then.

    Brain development is extremely crucial in our daily lives. Young adults nowadays are dealing with memory loss and brain fog, which is not a good sign.

    Despite age, we all need to take care of our mental health.


    • Hi Stephanie,

      Thank you for reading my post.

      Yes, we sometimes laugh about drinking heavily at a party causing brain damage and that sort of thing, but it’s actually not a good thing.

      We should all avoid causing brain damage whenever possible, whether it’s from substances we ingest, or a bad bump on the head.

      Thanks for your interesting comment.  Please write in again if you have any other thoughts.


  3. Michael…great article on PS …I plan on investigating more about the subject.  Your article has given me a great head start.

    I have not given the supplement much thought, but as we all get older some memory capacity can decline and your article at least got me to thinking more about brain health. 

     …thanks again for sharing.

    • Hello Good Sir,

      Thank you for reading my article, and your interest in nootropics.  I appreciate it.

      Yes.  PS is not exactly a household name.  Nootropics is still somewhat of a niche market, but people are starting to wake up to its’ potential.

      By all means, share my article with friends, and if you have any questions, just give me a holler!


  4. Hi Michael,

    Interesting article on how PS improves brain health and memory. I’m 54 years old, and the old memory isn’t what it used to be.

    So, where can you commonly buy PS? A natural health store?



    • Hi Regina,

      Thanks for reading my article, and your interest in nootropics! Really appreciate it.

      You are not alone. Lots of people are looking for a solution to brain fog and fatigue. You can get PS at any supplement store that sells nootropics. It is usually extracted from soy or sunflower lecithin. Prices vary slightly, depending on the supplier, but it is generally not very expensive.

      Hope that answers your question, but if not, please leave another comment.


  5. This substance seems to have amazing benefits, I should give it a try. Thanks for a comprehensive outlook on how beneficial PS is for the brain and cognitive function.

    • Hey Mohammed,

      Thanks for reading my article. Really appreciate your interest.

      If you do end up trying PS as a nutritional supplement, please let me know how it goes for you. I’d really like to hear about your experience with it.

      Thanks for commenting, and if you need anything else, please let me know.


  6. I must commend your effort in bringing this information to the knowledge of us all…ignorance kills faster than one can ever imagine.

    It’s imperative we get the best information possible, because our lives matter most of all…

    From your article, I got to know that Phosphatidylseriine is a functional support ingredient for the brain, and discovered how it can help us function better…

    A big thanks for sharing the details on the best supplement for brain Health…

    • Hi Evan,

      Thanks for reading my article on Phosphatidylserine.  Glad you found it informative.

      Please share my article with friends if you think they could benefit from reading it.  Sharing is caring!

      And of course, if you think of any questions later, just give me a holler!


  7. A very interesting article, Michael

    Thank you – I feel like I’ve learned something new today. I’d never heard of PS before now.

    Do you know how this relates to 5-HTP? I wonder how PS might work in relation to depression.

    Thank you again.

    This is definitely something I will keep “in mind”!

    • Hi Susan,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I really appreciate your interest.

      In answer to your question, 5-HTP is a precursor for the neurotransmitter Seratonin. The 3 neurotransmitters associated with depression are Seratonin, Norepinephrine, and Dopamine.

      Supplementing with 5-HTP increases levels of Seratonin, and is therefore commonly recommended to manage depression. However, simply increasing neurotransmitter levels may not treat depression properly.

      Sometimes there are other issues at play, like the receptors at the synapses are not reacting to the presence of neurotransmitters, even though there are normal levels of Seratonin, Norepinephrine, and Dopamine in the brain.

      If you would like to know more about using 5-HTP and how it relates to depression, you can read this article:

      I believe PS could potentially help with depression by increasing the density of receptors on the surface of the brain cell membranes. This would, in theory, improve the sensitivity of the brain cell membranes to the presence of Seratonin, Norepinephrine, and Dopamine.

      However, this is conjecture at this point. Studies looking at how PS can help with depression have been inconclusive so far. You can read more here:

      I hope this answers your questions, but if you have any others that “come to mind”, please post another comment!


  8. Hi Michael,

    That was a fascinating read.

    I’ve actually heard of Phosphatydilserine before. I believe it is sometimes used for treatment of ADHD, please do correct me if I’m wrong.

    To the best of my knowledge, it helps in some way to transmit messages between the nerve cells of the brain.

    If that is the case, it makes perfect sense that it is used to treat Alzheimer’s, dementia, etc. as you’ve alluded to.

    I’m a little taken aback by the “extraction from cows’ brains”, but I guess you learn something new everyday.

    Thanks again and keep up the great work.

    • Hi Partha,

      Thank you for your very thoughtful comment.

      You are right about PS being good for ADHD. The increase in mental flexibility and efficiency of function really does help people like myself maintain focus.

      PS facilitates the formation of additional receptors on the surface of the brain cell membranes, and this makes it easier for neurotransmitters to be detected. So yes, PS makes sending nerve impulses more efficient. It increases overall brain activity and functional capacity.

      Sorry if the cow brain reference put you off a little. I suppose it was discovered later on that we could just extract PS from soy or sunflower lecithin more easily.

      If you think of any questions later, please leave another comment.


  9. Hey Michael,

    Great article!

    Good use of words, and the way it’s written kept me interested throughout. I wanted to read more!

    Very good, 🙂

  10. Hi Michael,

    I agree with you about considering a supplement for brain health. As we grow older, the function of the brain diminishes, especially in the memory department.

    Sometimes I forget what I cooked the other night for dinner when suddenly asked!

    Do you think I need to consider trying this product at this age?

    Thank you for this information.


    • Hello Lyn,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I appreciate your interest.

      In answer to your question, PS is a food grade compound, so it’s very safe. You can find it in almost any supplement store offering nootropics, and it’s very affordable. A one month supply should cost you about $20-25.

      I would say, why not? Try it out, and see if you notice improvements in your memory and overall mental energy.

      If you do decide to try a PS supplement, please comment here again. I would love to hear how it turns out for you.



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