We all know the importance of good sleep. And we’ve also heard the same sleep hacks time and time again. Move more, stress less, turn off devices and maintain a routine. But what about when these strategies simply aren’t enough to get you the slumber you need?
Well, luckily we have some other tricks up our sleeve, including the tried and tested world of sleep supplements. When it comes to using supplements as a sleep aid, how effective they are all depends on what, how, and when you use them.
Here we reveal what really works - as well as how to get the most out of your sleep supplement of choice. You can also shop our curated range of the best sleep supplements.
Do Sleep Supplements Work?
There is now a huge variety of sleep-related supplements available on the market - some making incredible claims about their slumber-inducing potential.
However, in reality, there are only a few main ingredients that have a strong enough evidence base to support their use.
Some sleep supplements aim to reduce the body's stress response, which can in turn facilitate deeper and more restorative rest.
Others work to promote the production of the sleep hormone melatonin - which may help us drift off that little bit sooner.
Usually, the best sleep supplements combine both types of ingredients together for a comprehensive sleep aid.
Which will work best for you depends on the type of lifestyle you lead, as well as how much of a factor stress is for you.
Are Sleep Supplements Safe?
Sleep supplements are usually derived from natural vitamins, minerals, and herbs. As with all supplements, how suitable they are for you depends on your unique health status, any medications you take, and any underlying health issues.
For most people, however, sleep supplements such as those featuring magnesium pose little to no threat when used appropriately. If used in excess though, digestive issues may occur, so always follow the recommended dosage. It is always a good idea to check in with your doctor if you have any particular concerns.
What is the best supplement for sleep?
Supplements that score successfully for sleep improvement tend to share a few key ingredients in common. This is usually because they influence key physiological processes which are capable of influencing sleep patterns.
Let’s look at a few of the best ingredients to look out for when choosing your sleep supplements.
This magical mineral is known as nature’s tranquiliser, and for good reason. Magnesium supports muscle relaxation, which can promote a night of more restful sleep. It also has a positive effect on the neurotransmitter GABA which has a calming effect on the central nervous system.
Studies have shown Magnesium can improve subjective sleep scores in cases of insomnia - by making it easier to both fall, and stay, asleep. Magnesium supplements have also positively impacted cortisol levels and melatonin production - each of which directly affects sleep success.
This traditional herb, commonly used in the ancient art of Ayurveda, is known as an adaptogen. This means it is able to support the body to regulate itself into homeostasis - the state of healthy balance required for optimum functioning.
In particular, ashwagandha has been shown to reduce circulating cortisol levels, - a stress hormone, which when elevated, can adversely affect your ability to sleep soundly.
Probably not the first ingredient you think of when it comes to sleep supplements, but zinc can be a useful addition to your nightly regime. People with low zinc concentrations appear to sleep less than those with adequate supplies.
Zinc has a direct impact on the nervous system and may also improve circadian clock functioning - both of which can help to regulate sleep patterns.
This is the ultimate stress soother. Japanese monks consume this amino acid in abundance to aid their meditation practices. Found in green tea, L theanine enhances mental focus whilst easing anxiety.
As you would have to drink an awful lot of green tea to get the benefits, taking a concentrated form via supplementation can be a good way to go.
You can think of 5 HTP as the precursor to melatonin - the essential sleep hormone. This is because it triggers the production of serotonin, the feel-good ‘happy hormone’ which is then converted into melatonin.
When we have insufficient serotonin production, for example, if we have digestive issues which impair its production in our gut - we can struggle to make sufficient melatonin required for sleep. Instead of taking synthetic melatonin supplements, taking 5 HTP is a natural, and gentle way to upregulate your supplies.
Our Top 5 Sleep Supplements
With such a wealth of products on offer it can be pretty overwhelming to know which to choose. Here are our top five sleep-supporting supplements.
Form Nutrition Zzzzz’s Sleep Capsules
These well-designed, all-natural sleep aids offer a winning formula of magnesium, zinc, L theanine, and 5HTP. Just one capsule taken around 30 minutes before bed can enhance the soundness of your sleep.
Anatome Reset, Relax Sleep Capsules
Incorporating a great mix of herbal helpers such as ashwagandha and chamomile flowers, this thoughtful blend also features tried and tested magnesium along with anxiety-reducing l-theanine.
Wild Nutrition Food Grown Magnesium
If you take just one supplement for sleep, then make it magnesium. Especially if you, like most of us, suffer from some degree of daily stress. Wild nutrition provides a natural source of MG derived from nutrient-dense whole foods, for greater efficacy.
Wild Nutrition Ashwagandha plus
For an added boost, try this blend of food-grown magnesium and naturally sourced ashwagandha. Here you get the best of both worlds with a soothing sleep mineral and an anti-anxiety adaptogen.
Puori Magensium and Zinc
Zinc works best for sleep support when it teams up with magnesium. Helpfully this Puori product does just that. With generous amounts of both, this sleep supplement also features Vitamin B6 - to help your nervous system deal with daily stressors too.
To get the most out of your sleep supplements, try adding in an essential oil blend to soothe your senses. Inhaled via a diffuser or through a few drops on your pillow - this carefully curated mix of 22 essential oils encourages both mental relaxation and physical recovery.