Leaning on a supplement to aid a better night's sleep is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, within the United States, up to 30% of adults experience insomnia or sleep deprivation, according to SleepFoundation.org.
One of the most common sleep aids people choose is melatonin, which has its pros and its cons. However, there are plenty of over-the-counter options on the market, all of which may "have a place for those who maybe want to try something natural but didn't have a good experience with melatonin," explains Daniel A. Barone, MD, FAASM, FANA, the Associate Medical Director at Weill Cornell Center for Sleep Medicine and author of Let's Talk About Sleep.
First of all, taking sleep supplements "comes with a couple of caveats," says Barone, which is why it's important that before you decide to take any of these supplements, you talk to your doctor. The main change to look out for is "the hangover effect" he says. "If you take it at bedtime to help you sleep, and you feel hungover the next day," then the supplement may not be the right fit for you.
If melatonin hasn't worked for you in the past, then consider these six sleep supplements to try and aid a better night's sleep.
Valerian in its natural state is a herb, extracted from the root of a tall, grass plant. There have been various trials and studies that demonstrated the effectiveness of valerian as a supplement to aid sleep.
The plant-based supplement can offer a better night's sleep by possibly helping you fall asleep more quickly, as well as keep you asleep. Barone recommends valerian to many patients if they are looking for a natural supplement and melatonin doesn't work for their body.
One important note: it's unclear what the correct dosage of valerian is because it varies throughout the considerable research done on its benefits. The American Journal of Medicine reported that research looked at dosages ranging from 225–1,215 milligrams (mg) per day, which doesn't quite narrow down an average amount to consume safely.
Another supplement option is magnesium, which Barone says has worked in favor of some of his own patients having trouble sleeping. The mineral is a nutrient necessary for certain bodily functions—such as muscle and nerve function, building strong bones, and controlling blood sugar levels—but it can also be a productive resource for better sleep.
Magnesium works to relax and calm the nervous system and brain, according to Healthline. By regulating the body's neurotransmitters, the supplement may settle nerve activity to help prepare the mind and body to go to sleep.
However, the sleep benefits of magnesium have only been researched for older adults, so, more studies may need to be done to confirm whether it's substantial for all of the human population.
L-theanine is an amino acid that has been seen to support both physical and cognitive relaxation without causing the body to experience drowsiness. Many Weill Cornell Center for Sleep Medicine patients have had good luck while taking this and had reported back a good sleep experience, Barone explains.
Due to its sedation abilities and relaxation properties, L-theanine is a solid sleep aid supplement, reported Frontier's."It is commonly used to treat sleep disturbance, improve non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, and reduce psychological stress."
As a natural chemical compound of cannabis, cannabidiol (or CBD), has been heavily researched as a productive sleep aid. Alongside tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC), this plant-based medicine has been seen to reduce bodily stress and regulate cell communication, most specifically regarding pain and anxiety.
Even though there have been multiple studies with positive results of participants reporting their sleep improved after taking CBD, there are some inconsistencies in which form of the supplement serves the best outcomes. Research has looked into gummies, vaping, and tablets, but the results vary, explains Medical News Today. Also, the FDA has not formally approved or regulated CBD, meaning most current evidence should be taken with ease.
If you ever feel like your mind is always racing and it's difficult to "turn your brain off" to get some rest at the end of the day, then this supplement could be the answer to your problems. On average, our bodies naturally use glycine as a fundamental resource in making protein, but this amino acid can also calm the neurotransmitters of the nervous system.
You may experience better quality and longer sleep after taking glycine supplements, as it slows down the process of sending neurons and in turn, helps reduce anxiety and protect the brain from getting overstimulated.
Some research has found that taking an average of 3 grams of glycine before bed can support people who have trouble sleeping by lowering the body's core temperature. The supplement may also decrease the time it takes to fall asleep, lower the possibility of daytime sleepiness, and enhance strong brain function.
There's one last over-the-counter sleep supplement option that may be worth a try—Doxylamine succinate. Interestingly enough, the antihistamine is not only used for people experiencing symptoms of insomnia, but also as a decongestant for mild cold symptoms.
You may begin to feel the effects of doxylamine almost immediately (within 30 minutes) after taking the supplement. Most people recorded that they are able to stay asleep for about seven to eight hours, according to The American Society of Health (AHFS). While the sedation effect is positive in terms of effortless sleep, on the other hand, a possible side effect of taking an antihistamine before bed is persistent drowsiness.
"What I always recommend to people is, if there is any persistent sleep disorder, where somebody is waking up frequently throughout the night or having trouble falling asleep and it's a regular occurrence, an evaluation would be smart," Barone suggests.
Whether this is getting a sleep aptitude test done or talking to a doctor about other treatment options that could work for your body. These supplements are intended to be used as temporary or short-term solutions to insomnia, so there may be deeper underlying factors at play if issues with sleep continue to occur over time.
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