Quality sleep is so important for our physical and mental wellbeing. But sometimes it can feel like a challenge, no matter what habits we try to change. If you’re having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, natural sleep supplements may be helpful for you. Check out these 9 ingredients that may help you sleep better so that you can try to catch up on that shuteye.

Sleep supplements, herbal tea and a sleeping mask against a marble background

Why take a sleep aid?

People may take sleep supplements for various reasons, whether it’s to help them relax or fall asleep faster. Some may use them to help relieve sleeplessness so that they have more energy during the day. Sleep supplements or sleep aids have recently become more popular. They usually consist of a variety of ingredients to help promote relaxation and calm. They usually consist of herbs, minerals, and other compounds that may offer different benefits. These may include things like falling asleep faster, promoting deep sleep, and improving the quality of sleep. Some of the ingredients listed below may be difficult to obtain from foods which is why they are often provided in supplement form.

Read on to find out more about the key sleep supplements that can help boost your sleep!

Pestle and mortar with valerian root.

Valerian Root

This herb is native to Asia and Europe and has been used since ancient times to help promote good sleep and tranquility. It consists of compounds such as valerenic acid, isovaleric acid, and antioxidants like hesperidin and linarin which may contribute to its effects. Some studies suggest that valerian may contribute to an improved quality of sleep and help users fall asleep more quickly. There are hundreds of different valerian root species, although the type most commonly used in supplements is called Valeriana Officinalis.

L-Tryptophan

L-Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is found in animal and plant proteins. It plays an important role in creating molecules in our bodies such as 5-HTP. This produces hormones such as melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin is a key component of our sleep-wake cycles. We’ll cover more about the function and benefits of this hormone below.

Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)

GABA, or Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, is an amino acid that is naturally produced in our bodies. It acts as a neurotransmitter, which sends messages in the brain. Unlike most neurotransmitters, this amino acid is actually considered an inhibitory neurotransmitter. This means that it blocks rather than sends messages. It plays a big role in regulating the neural signals related to the central nervous system. Too little or too much Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid can lead to higher or lower levels of brain activity. For example, studies suggest that low levels cause too much activity which may lead to restlessness and some mood disorders. Higher levels, on the other hand, can cause feelings of relaxation and calm when GABA attaches to GABA receptors in the brain. They are often found in supplement form because it is difficult to find natural food sources of this amino acid. 

Image of magnesium compound and foods that contain magnesium

Magnesium Bisglycinate Chelate

Magnesium is a mineral that helps our bodies perform many vital functions. It’s particularly important for our heart, brain, and muscle health. And no wonder – magnesium is involved in over 600 enzymatic reactions in the body. Magnesium Biglycinate Chelate may sound like a mouthful! But, it is essentially magnesium that is bound to two glycine compounds, hence the name biglycinate. A chelated mineral is one that is bound to compounds like amino acids which may help with absorbability. In this case, it refers to magnesium being bound to glycine. Magnesium bisglycinate is used for its calming effects and potential to promote better sleep. 

Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone that is produced naturally in the human brain. Our brains produce melatonin to help regulate our sleep cycles, which is why light plays a role in this process. It may also play a role in moderating our body temperature. We generally produce more in the evening when it gets dark, and less in the morning and daytime when it is light. By helping to regulate our circadian rhythm, melatonin signals when it is nighttime to help our bodies to begin preparing for sleep. It basically tells our body that it’s bedtime. One study suggests that melatonin supplements may be helpful for improving sleep in those experiencing jet lag or unconventional working times. It is used in dietary supplements to help promote sleep by balancing the sleep cycle. 

Chamomile tea in a clear glass cup

Chamomile

This is another ancient herb humans have used for centuries for various health benefits. Chamomile flowers contain antioxidants and compounds such as apigenin. This compound may help promote a feeling of sleepiness. The chamomile flowers are dried and used in tea, essential oils, and supplement form. They may help promote relaxation, calm, sleep, and even to soothe a troubled tummy. 

Fresh and dried lemon balm

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm, also known as Melissa officinalis, is a herb that grows in various parts of the world. Fun fact: its name comes from its lemon scent, although it actually belongs to the same family as mint. Because of its citrusy scent, people use the herb in cooking and in beverages because it adds flavor and aroma. This multi-use plant is also used in supplement products and teas for its soothing properties. People often combine lemon balm with valerian root to help promote restful sleep. It may also be helpful in inducing a feeling of calm.

Close up of lavender flowers

Lavender 

You may already be familiar with this purple plant and its wonderful scent. People add lavender to scented candles, fragrances, and soaps because of its floral aroma. The flowers and oils of this herb are also used in sleep supplements. This is because this flower can help to promote relaxation. This, in turn, can help with inducing sleep. Humans have a long history of using lavender. For example. the ancient Romans, Greeks, and Persians used lavender for a variety of benefits. One of these was for its potentially calming effects. 

Close up of man's hands outdoors, picking hop flowers from a hop vine.

Hops

Hops come from a plant known as Humulus lupulus. More specifically, they are the female flowers. Breweries often use hops to help give beer its bitter flavor. Although they have been used for centuries, it is only more recently that more research has been conducted. Some of these relate to the role this plant may play in helping us sleep better. Some studies suggest that hops may be beneficial in promoting sleep. It may be particularly helpful when it is combined with valerian root. People use both of these natural ingredients to help promote feelings of calm and relaxation. 

What else do I need to know about natural sleep aids or sleep supplements?

The ingredients listed above may be helpful in getting more rest or promoting feelings of relaxation. However, supplements are usually the most effective when combined with other factors. In order to help improve your sleep quality, it’s also important to pay attention to other factors that might be wrecking your sleep.

These include:

  • Stress: For many of us, it may be difficult to get enough quality sleep during periods of increased stress or tension.
  • Sleep Environment: If you find yourself tossing and turning all night, it could be that your pillow or mattress is to blame. Other changes in your sleep environment, such as sleeping in a new place, can also impact your sleep. 
  • Underlying health conditions: A diagnosed sleep disorder, body aches, or physical discomfort caused by underlying health issues can cause some people sleeplessness and interfere with sleep. 
  • Lifestyle and diet: Lifestyle factors such as eating an unhealthy diet, drinking excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol, smoking, or a lack of exercise can also have an impact on sleep. 

Is there anything I can do to improve my sleep?

It may be useful to use a holistic approach to your wellbeing and examine all possible factors that may be contributing to a lack of sleep. Making some changes to your lifestyle and habits can help to increase the effectiveness of any sleep supplements you consider taking.

For example, you could:

  • Improve your sleep hygiene by sleeping in a cool and dark room.
  • Avoid napping during the day.
  • Try to be consistent with your sleep schedule by waking up and going to bed around the same time each day. 
  • Follow a healthy, balanced diet to help improve your overall health. For instance, including more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can help you meet recommended amounts of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This green juice recipe can help you meet those recommendations!
  • Try to avoid very heavy and large meals right before going to bed. 
  • Limit your intake of stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine
  • Exercise regularly. (Need some workout inspo? Check out these no-equipment workouts you can do from home!)
  • Try stress management and relaxation techniques to reduce stress and anxiousness. 

Are there any side effects of sleep supplements?

Using a sleep aid or supplement consistently in combination with a healthy routine may offer a more beneficial approach to help you get more sleep. The ingredients in this article do not generally cause side effects in healthy adults who don’t have underlying health conditions or diseases. However, like with any supplement, it is always recommended to consult your physician to check whether it is suitable for you. If you are considering taking a natural sleep supplement, it is also important to make sure that you purchase a product that uses high-quality ingredients.

9 BEST INGREDIENTS FOR SLEEP SUPPLEMENTS

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