A ranking of the five most popular supplements taken to aid sleep, based on sales volume and popularity.
Most experts recommended this herb to reduce the amount of time it takes to nod off. According to the NIH, no single compound in valerian has been identified as the active agent. However, the NIH reports that valerian seems to have sedative properties, and it may increase the amount of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a compound in the brain that prevents the transmission of nerve impulses. Valerian seems to be especially effective when combined with hops, according to a 2007 study. Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council, recommends using Enzymatic Therapy’s Alluna product. (View all Valerian products.)
A compound derived from the amino acid L-tryptophan, the supplement also is used to enhance mood and decrease appetite. Laurie Steelsmith, a licensed naturopathic physician, does not recommended 5-HTP for those on antidepressant medications. Steelsmith says that 5-HTP acts as a precursor to serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that is essential for a good night’s sleep. “It is better than L-tryptophan because 5-HTP can cross the blood-brain barrier and thus increase serotonin in the brain.” A small 2009 study of 18 people found that those who took a product combining 5-HTP and GABA needed less time to fall asleep, slept longer and reported improved sleep quality. NOW Foods’ new vegan 5-HTP 200 mg product also contains other relaxation aids: glycine, taurine and inositol.
View all 5-HTP products.)
A hormone that regulates the normal sleep/wake cycle, “melatonin can be used in supplement form as an occasional sleep aid, and is especially effective against jet lag,” Dr. Andrew Weil, founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, says. According to research, the body naturally produces melatonin after the sun goes down, letting us know it’s time to fall asleep. Supplemental melatonin assists with this process. When combined with light therapy, melatonin helps minimize nighttime restlessness in elderly dementia patients, according to a 2008 study.
View all Melatonin products.)
Along with contributing to a good night’s sleep, this light, silvery metallic element is an oft-overlooked nutrient that helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, and promotes normal blood pressure, according to the NIH. Lack of magnesium inhibits nerve cell communication, which leads to cell excitability. The result: a stressed and nervous person. Several older studies show that magnesium can improve sleep quality and reduce nocturnal awakenings. Natural Vitality, makers of the water-soluble powdered magnesium supplement Natural Calm, have recently released Osteo Calm, which is a liquid magnesium-calcium product intended for bone health support.
View all Magnesium products.)
An amino acid derivative found in green tea, theanine has long been known to trigger the release in the brain of gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. GABA activates the major calming neurotransmitters, promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety, but the body has difficulty absorbing supplements containing synthesized GABA. That's why experts recommend theanine, which the body can easily absorb and, ultimately, use to boost levels of GABA. We don't recommend doses above 600 mg without physician oversight.
View all Theanine products.)
Sleep Supplement Formulas:
Tranquilnite is an herbal lullaby. Your deepest periods of sleep will become longer and more replenishing, and you will feel rested and refreshed in the morning.• Synergistic blend of Valerian, Lavender, Passion Flower & Chamomile
When stress keeps you awake, Calms Forté can naturally ease you into sleep. It's been safely helping minds and people rest for over 50 years.• Relieves stress & relaxes with chamomile.
Dream Boost is an all-natural dietary supplement developed by the Upstate Dream Institute as a sleep and dream enhancer. Dream Boost's patent-pending formula optimizes sleep patterns for restful and productive sleep while increasing dreaming ability, vividness, and recall. The synergy of Dream Boost's active ingredients, working together in low level doses, is the key to its effectiveness, thus making the product gentle and safe for regular use. Benefits to a quality night's sleep with Dream Boost include reduced stress, enhanced creativity, improved concentration, and a restful feeling with a positive outlook. Dream Boost contains no addictive ingredients and is non-habit forming.