Friday, January 23, 2009

Niacin and PDG2- The “Sleep” Substance?

L and I have been thinking for a while now that there has to be some kind of chemical(s), or lack there of, responsible for sleep deprivation. For those who don’t know, when the body is deprived of sleep for a night or two, all kinds of issues await the deprived sleeper. Some have even used the deprivation technique to induce hallucinations. However, science is still unsure as to the exact mechanisms and chemicals that may be involved in falling asleep. Or for that matter, what might be being deprived by not sleeping. That being said, there seems to be tantalizing evidence surrounding a curious substance known as PDG2.

According to, Prostaglandin D2 (PDG2) is a metabolite (a substance produced by a metabolic process) of arachidonic acid ( an “essential dietary component for mammals”). Armed with this vague definition, one can then look at something that might be of interest to sleep junkies. Check out this link to a French study done in 1994:

For those who didn’t copy and paste the link, they essentially deprived mice of REM sleep. When compared to the control group, the REM deprived mice showed significant depletion of PDG2! This was curious to the French researchers because they had known that PGD2 had sleep inducing properties.

PGD2 is also being studied at the Osaka Bioscience Institute in Japan.

The Osaka folks say that PGD2 may just be the chemical responsible for endogenously inducing non-REM sleep. They also say, “ [PDG2] is now accepted as the most potent endogenous sleep-promoting substance. Wow! Take that Melatonin!

As you may have guessed, PGD2 isn’t exactly found at your local supplement store. However, there is something that seems to aid the body in PGD2 production. That substance, is Niacin. Otherwise known as vitamin B3. Pure Niacin has a peculiar reaction when taken in the large amounts found in supplements. It produces what is known as a “Niacin-flush”. Characteristics of the flush include a burning or itching sensations, accompanied by redness of the skin. Scientists have developed varieties of “flush-free” Niacin but if you are interested in the PGD2, then you may need to go through the burning-itchy-fire that is a Niacin flush.

Here’s a study in the Journal of Pharmacology done in September of 2008

While experimenting on our rodent neighbors, these scientists found that, “Niacin increases plasma PGD2 and serotonin in a rat model of flush.” Once again, the flush is what causes PGD2 release.

To summarize, PGD2 may very well be the endogenous substance that promotes non-REM sleep. A before bed Niacin flush is an effective, (although one has to be always be careful) method of increasing the body’s amount of PGD2.

Armed with this knowledge, I’ve been having a nightly Niacin flush. And I must confess, the sleep has been great.

Good luck and Happy Dreaming



  1. But I love Melatonin! LOL. What a great and interesting post R. I am sure that B3 would help a lot of people with sleep issues. My step-dad seems to have trouble going to sleep and maybe this would support him on those impossible nights.


  2. Dear L&R,

    You don't need to take Nician and deal with the "flushing." Instead take Niacinamide. It does the same thing without the flushing. Take it to improve cerebral blood flow after WBTB.


    Scot Stride