Can supplements help you sleep? – Natural Sleep Aids

Last Updated on August 18, 2021

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for your health. Sleep is good for both your body and brain. By sleeping well, you can improve your learning, memory, decision-making and creativity.

Getting insufficient sleep has been linked to a higher risk of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. The quantity and quality of sleep are at an all-time low, with more and more people experiencing poor sleep each night.

Keep in mind that if you want to get a good night’s rest, you need to have good sleep practices and habits. However, you also have to understand that for some individuals, that might not be enough. If you require a little extra help to go into slumber, you should consider trying natural sleep-promoting supplements. That’s why in today’s article, we’ll try to explain:

  • What are the best natural supplements?
  • Can supplements help you sleep?
  • Are they safer than prescription sleep aids?
  • Are there any side effects?
Can supplements help you sleep?

What are the best natural supplements?

Good health is dependent on good sleep, but many of us don’t get it. Stress, anxiety, depression, and poor lifestyle choices can lead to insomnia or underlying medical conditions that cause sleep disorders. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation comes with increased risks of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and even depression. That’s why it’s essential you get at least seven hours of good rest

If counting sheep isn’t helping you get a good night’s sleep, then you might need some extra help. That’s where possible natural solutions come into play. The capsule market has grown immensely in the last years and has been incredibly beneficial for many people worldwide. Thus considering one of the following vitamins and supplements can be the right decision for you:

Melatonin

Your body uses this hormone to let you know when it’s time to sleep and when to wake up. Melatonin is believed to ease sleep issues regarding jet lag or troubles of falling asleep. If taken for a few weeks or months, melatonin is generally safe for healthy adults. There are possible side effects which may include headaches, dizziness and nausea. The recommended dosage for adults will be between 1-3 milligrams 2 hours before bed.

Valerian

For hundreds of years, this perennial plant has been used to aid with sleep. Studies suggest that valerian helps you get more quality sleep. However, the evidence on that is mixed. Valerian might raise the levels of GABA, which boosts relaxation. Valerian is believed to be safe in the short term, but it can cause headaches and stomachaches if you take it continually. Experts recommend around 300-600 milligrams up to 2 hours before bed. If you want an even more natural option, you can always brew 2-3 grams of the dried root in a cup of water (250ml).

Lavender

Before you go to bed, try sniffing this aromatic purple flower. Its scent reduces your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure, which can set the stage for slumber. In addition, a study found that people who slept in a lavender-infused room had more deep sleep than those who didn’t. If you want to learn more about the effect of lavender on your sleep, take a look at our guide on ‘Does lavender help you sleep?’

CBD Oil (Cannabidiol)

CBD oil, also known as cannabidiol, is a compound in marijuana and other hemp plants. It doesn’t make you high, but it can help you sleep. A study showed that people who took it felt less anxious and slept better within 30 days. However, keep in mind that CBD may make some people tired or nauseous. It’s still unknown how much is required, but research suggests that a daily dose of 25 to 175 should work fine for a healthy individual.

Chamomile

Many people enjoy drinking soothing herbal tea, and chamomile is no exception. The daisy-like plant has a calming effect thanks to the anti-oxidant known as apigenin. It works well on specific brain cell receptors, which help you relax and fall asleep faster. Chamomile is a safe supplement, but it can interact with some medication. You can either consume it as a tea or take 200-270 milligrams of extract twice a day. If you’re interested in suitable teas for sleep, check out our article on ‘Best teas before bed.’

Kava

The native plant of the South Pacific is often taken for anxiety. According to research, kava is also useful for sleep due to the fact that it might ease insomnia caused by stress. However, there is a link between kava supplements and the risk of serious liver damage. That’s why we highly recommend you talk to your doctor before taking kava. With that said, it is believed that supplements made from the root, not the stem or leaves may be safer.

Glycine

You can have a very positive impact on your sleep with this tiny acid. That’s because it can raise the amount of serotonin (a brain chemical) that affects sleep. It encourages you to nod off because it helps your blood flow and lowers your body temperature. Glycine supplements aren’t viewed as dangerous, meaning they are safe to use. It’s advisable to take 3 grams about an hour before bed.

What are natural sleep aids?

Passionflower

Passionflower is a type of climbing vine. Passion flower has been used for calming purposes by Native Americans for years. The plant contains GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), the brain chemical, which affects your mood and sleep. A study found that people reported getting a better night’s rest when they drank a mug of passion flower tea. In the short term, experts say that passion flower is safe to take.

GABA

The name is short for gamma-aminobutyric acid. It is a chemical in the brain that helps sleep and relaxation. Some sleeping aids might work by helping GABA work better. With that said, there is no proof that taking GABA itself as a supplement can work. Scientists don’t know if GABA can get into your brain from your bloodstream.

Magnesium

It may be harder for you to fall asleep if you have low levels of this mineral. Studies are showing that magnesium supplements can improve sleep in older people and those with restless legs syndrome. Food like nuts and leafy greens contain a good amount of magnesium. Women need around 310-320 milligrams per day, whereas men need between 400-420 milligrams. It’s a good idea to ask your doctor if you should take magnesium supplements.

5-HTP

It is short for 5-hydroxytryptophan, a compound that your body makes from foods you consume. In general, your body uses 5-HTP to make melatonin, which is a crucial hormone for sleep. Some studies are suggesting that 5-HTP supplements made from plant seeds may help you sleep. Specialists recommend 100-300 milligrams of 5-HTP before bedtime. There are possible side effects like nausea and headaches.

Magnolia Bark

This is an aid used to treat depression and anxiety in Chinese medicine. Experts are studying whether magnolia bark might be beneficial to your sleep, too. It has a compound that might improve your sleep, called honokiol. Magnolia bark can keep your body from releasing stress hormones such as adrenaline. It seems to be safe for short-term use, but it can give you indigestion.

California Poppy

The California poppy is related to the opium poppy, but it is a different flower species. It has been used in traditional medicine as a sedative. Scientists have discovered that it helps raise the levels of GABA, a relaxation chemical. However, there isn’t a lot of research on whether California poppy extract works. It is considered safe to use for short periods, but it comes with possible side effects such as stomach problems and pains.

Tart Cherry Juice

Melatonin is a key sleep hormone and is naturally found in tart cherries. According to early research, drinking cherry juice raises melatonin levels in the body. As a result, it helped people sleep more soundly and for longer. Remember that Bing and other sweet cherries don’t have the same effect, so look for a different variety. You can drink a cup about an hour or two before bed.

Ginkgo Biloba

The leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree have been studied for potential medical benefits. With that said, there is no solid evidence of sleep benefits from taking it. According to some research, it may help reduce anxiety and interfere with sleep. Some people experience dizziness and stomach problems when taking ginkgo leaves supplements. There are concerns about ginkgo’s safety for pregnant women, as it may interact with other drugs.

Can supplements help you sleep?

What are the best natural supplements?

Natural sleep aids, like melatonin, have been shown to be effective in some research, meaning that supplements can indeed help you sleep. There are other herbal supplements, such as valerian root and passionflower, that are accompanied by mixed results. More research is needed to say for sure if natural sleep aids are beneficial to your sleep. However, there is plenty of research on specific aids that calm your body and mind so you can relax and fall into a deep slumber.

Are natural sleep aids safer than prescription sleep aids?

Natural sleep aids are usually considered safer than prescription sleep aids because they have fewer side effects. However, it’s still crucial to choose a quality product from a well-known brand. In addition, the FDA doesn’t regulate herbal supplements in the same way it regulates drugs, which is something to keep in mind.

Understand that even natural sleep aids are intended to be a short-term solution for your sleeping problems. It is a good idea to talk with your doctor about any underlying conditions if you are having trouble sleeping all the time.

Are there side effects from natural sleep supplements?

Are natural sleep aids safer than prescription sleep aids?

Natural sleep aids have side effects that can be serious. Even though these products are labelled natural, they can still be harmful. A lack of research means that experts don’t fully understand the risks and benefits of natural sleep remedies, which includes the proper dosage and use.

The side effects of drugs and supplements are different depending on the specific compound. Some of the negative effects that can occur with natural sleep aids are:

  • Allergic reactions: Some people can be allergic to certain substances in natural sleep aids, like pollen or certain foods.
  • Adverse reactions: There are some sleep aids that can cause gastrointestinal problems and headaches. Some substances can cause more serious adverse reactions that affect the liver and its damage.
  • Sleepiness: Natural compounds that induce drowsiness, primarily if used in high doses, may have a lasting effect on the next morning and cause them to feel sleepy and unfocused.
  • Drug interactions: Natural products can change the metabolism of drugs, making them less potent. There are potentially dangerous drug interactions with both prescription and OTC drugs.
  • Improper dosage and timing: Lack of research about natural sleep aids makes it hard to find the right dose and timing. There may be unwanted side effects from a high dose of natural substances.

Bottom line

It is rare for a sleep aid to single-handedly resolve all sleeping issues, but it can help you if accompanied by a strict sleep schedule, right bedroom temperature and healthy food intake. It is essential to review and improve your sleep hygiene if you decide to take a natural sleep aid.

To ensure quality sleep, you have to look at your sleep habits and bedroom environment closely. This step will allow you to make the most of the sleep improvements that can come from a natural sleep aid, as well as making your sleep schedule more consistent.

Now it’s our turn to hear from you if any questions regarding the subject were left unanswered. If you want to share some information, we would gladly hear about it in the comments below.

Isabelle Harris
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