Sleep is an essential process that helps the body restore the immune, nervous, skeletal, and muscular systems. These systems are vital to maintaining emotion, memory, and cognitive functions. Overall, you need adequate sleep to have a good quality of life. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation, or chronic sleep restriction, has become a common health problem in the modern world. Wide-spread usage of electronics, increases in night-shift work or overtime work schedules, and chronic diseases such as depression and anxiety can all contribute to sleep deprivation. If you struggle with achieving a whole night’s sleep, don’t worry. Keep reading for the top sleep supplements.

Melatonin

You may have heard of melatonin before. Melatonin is a hormone that your body naturally produces, especially in the evening. The rising melatonin levels put you into a state of quiet wakefulness, a relaxing form that helps promote sleep.

Alcohol, smoking, caffeine, aging, specific medication, and exposure to too much light at night (including blue light) are all risk factors in melatonin deficiency. You can take supplements to help counter low levels and normalize your internal clock. However, it’s best to work with, not against, melatonin’s natural, sleep-inducing signals to achieve the best results.

Melatonin levels naturally begin to rise about two hours before bedtime. You can help promote the proper conditions for melatonin production by keeping the lights low. This means stop using anything that produces blue light (computers, tablets, phones), and, preferably, stop watching television. You can also help your body make melatonin during the right time of day by exposing yourself to sunlight during the morning and afternoon.

Most melatonin supplements will provide more than enough of the hormone to help you relax and, hopefully, fall asleep. According to current research, melatonin is also considered safe, non-toxic, and non-addictive for children and adults. Studies have shown that daily melatonin intake at doses of 2-10mg for up to 3.5 years has no adverse side effects. Some people have described short-lived side effects, such as daytime sleepiness, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, nausea, and a cold feeling. If you have preexisting health conditions and/or take other medications, speak with a trusted healthcare professional before starting a melatonin regimen.

L-theanine

L-theanine is an amino acid primarily found in tea leaves. First identified by Japanese scientists in 1949, you can also find this helpful sleep supplement in certain mushrooms. Overall, L-theanine promotes relaxation and facilitates sleep by contributing to several changes in the brain. For instance, it boosts levels of GABA and other calming brain chemicals, like serotonin and dopamine. It also lowers the levels of “excitatory” brain chemicals, which lowers levels of chemicals in the brain linked to stress and anxiety. It also seems to trigger the release of alpha waves, which enhances relaxation, focus, and creativity. In other words, it works to relax without sedating an individual.

In a 2018 study, people reported greater sleep satisfaction after taking 450-900mg of L-theanine daily for eight weeks. However, it’s essential to point out that the participants had generalized anxiety disorder and took antidepressants. There was no reported change in insomnia severity or anxiety.

This supplement is generally well tolerated by adults. Consult a trusted healthcare professional if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have low blood pressure, or are under the age of 18. L-theanine may interact with medications used to treat high blood pressure or stimulant medications. It may also interact with other supplements containing caffeine and those that lower blood pressure.

Phosphatidylserine (PS 100)

Also known as PS 100, phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid nutritional supplement that stops the hyperactive production of cortisol in the body. You can expect a more restful sleep by allowing the unhealthy, elevated cortisol levels to decrease.

Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone. Best known for activating your fight-or-flight response, cortisol is also responsible for waking you up in the morning and lowering bodily inflammation. It’s when there’s an ill-timed influx of cortisol circulating in your body that your sleep patterns could begin to suffer.

Naturally, your cortisol levels fluctuate over 24 hours to control your sleep-wake cycle. The rise and fall of this hormone are vital to you falling asleep at your target bedtime, staying asleep throughout the entirety of the night, and waking up in the morning. Unfortunately, while excess cortisol can cause sleep problems resulting in sleep loss, that sleep loss can also raise the cortisol concentration in your body. Sleep naturally inhibits cortisol production. Not achieving your sleep needs means your body isn’t given enough time to curb cortisol secretion, which leads to elevated daytime levels. Eventually, when it’s time to go to sleep again, you’re too wired, and the cycle continues. To avoid this terrible cycle, adults will often take PS 100 in doses of 200-400mg by mouth daily for one to three months.

Folate (Folic Acid)

Folate, or vitamin B9, is essential for many biochemical processes. According to a 2019 study, “Since folate is related to the antioxidants glutathione (GSH) and glutathione peroxidase, the most likely explanation for our findings is that folic acid could resolve the sleep deprivation-associated disturbances through its antioxidant activity.”

That study, conducted on mice, found that sleep deprivation led to increased physiological dysfunctions, including ruffled fur, anemia, weight loss, and mobility retardation. The folic acid supplementation significantly reversed these characteristics, overall, suggesting that folic acid may help resolve the physical effects of sleep deprivation.

This might not seem like a big deal, but sleep deprivation can lead to oxidative stress, ultimately leading to diseases, like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. The fact that folate can help reverse the trauma done by oxidative stress is a huge discovery, one that you may be thankful for down the line.

The recommended daily allowance of folate for the average adult is 400 micrograms. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, take 600 micrograms and 500 micrograms a day, respectively.

Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an amino acid responsible for making proteins and other essential molecules in the human body, including those needed for optimal sleep and mood. It can be converted into a molecule called 5-HTP, which the body uses to create serotonin and melatonin. Research shows that increasing tryptophan in the blood directly increases serotonin and melatonin. One study showed that eating tryptophan-enriched cereal for breakfast and dinner helped adults fall asleep faster and sleep longer when compared to regular cereals.

You can take up to 5g a day. Side effects, while minor, include nausea, tremors, sleepiness, and dizziness. Though rare, excess tryptophan may also cause a condition known as serotonin syndrome. However, this is most likely to occur in an individual taking medications that alter serotonin levels, like antidepressants. Symptoms include coma, involuntary twitching or jerking, delirium, and hyperthermia.

Magnesium

This nutrient is essential for more than 300 processes in the human body. Magnesium helps maintain a healthy immune system, regulates muscle and nerve function, ensures healthy blood pressure, and keeps your bones strong. While researchers recognize that magnesium plays a role in sleep regulation, they still don’t fully understand the effect of magnesium on sleep behaviors. Scientists know that lack of magnesium negatively impacts sleep, as low magnesium levels are associated with insomnia. Anxiety and depression are also linked to low magnesium and contribute to insomnia.

Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. It can cause fatigue, irritability, anxiety, and depression. In one study, elderly patients with insomnia took 500mg of magnesium a day for eight weeks. Many patients saw improvements in their subjective and objective measures of insomnia. This means that the patients fell asleep quicker and slept longer, increased their sleep efficiency, woke up later and reduced early morning awakening, experienced increased melatonin concentrations, and experienced decreased serum cortisol concentrations.

When taken in appropriate dosages, magnesium poses very few risks. If you take a high-dose magnesium supplement or medications, you may experience diarrhea, cramping, and nausea. It can also lead to an irregular heartbeat. However, taking your magnesium with food can help reduce the likelihood of these side effects. If you take any other medications, consult a trusted healthcare professional before starting magnesium.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Lack of vitamin B6 is associated with symptoms of insomnia and depression. That is because vitamin B6 aids in the production of serotonin and melatonin; both are vital to proper sleep and mood management. Did you know that among those with depression, about 75% or more also have insomnia symptoms? In studies on older adults, scientists were able to link a higher intake of vitamin B6 to a lower risk for depression. This is essential because depression and anxiety are both risk factors for insomnia.

Earlier on this list, we mentioned tryptophan as a possible solution to your sleeping woes. Well, your tryptophan would be useless without vitamin B6, as both tryptophan and dopamine require the vitamin for synthesis. You see, vitamin B6 converts small amounts of the tryptophan in your body into vitamin B3 and serotonin. If you don’t receive an adequate amount of vitamin B6, you risk disturbing the body’s tryptophan metabolism. This disturbance may limit the amount of serotonin in the body, leading to irregular sleep patterns and insomnia.

Along with insomnia, a lack of vitamin B6 can cause irritability, depression, and confusion. However, you don’t want to overdo your intake of this vitamin either, as too much can be toxic. Remember to pay attention to the daily recommended amount. For vitamin B6, that’s 1.3g a day for adults. You can take a tablet, liquid, or capsule supplement to meet these needs. A B vitamin complex supplement may also work well since vitamin B6 deficiency commonly occurs with other B vitamin deficiencies.

Zinc

Last but not least, we have zinc. Zinc is the second most abundant trace metal in the human body, and it’s responsible for many bodily functions. Recent research states that zinc serum concentration varies with the amount of sleep one receives and that orally administered zinc increases sleep quality in mice and humans. Other studies show that adequate sleep results in a higher zinc serum concentration in participants. However, a 2015 study is probably the most convincing to date on the effects of zinc on sleep. Completed on mice models, this study utilized a zinc-containing yeast extract in one group and a yeast extract rich in manganese, iron, and copper in another (which had no effect), proving that zinc does have a specific impact on sleep. Scientists concluded that zinc induced sleep only at a physiological level, suggesting that zinc may act on circadian regulators and induce sleep when the animal is usually set to sleep.

Zinc deficiency is characterized by growth retardation, loss of appetite, and impaired immune function. Adults can consume anywhere between 15mg and 30mg of zinc a day. Typically, you are at low risk for any side effects that zinc may cause. It takes an intake of 150-450mg of zinc per day to cause chronic side effects, like low copper status, altered iron function, reduced immune function, and reduced levels of high-density lipoproteins. Acute side effects of high zinc consumption include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramp, diarrhea, and headaches. To be safe, both men and women should not exceed 40mg of zinc in one day.

It’s essential to know that different supplements contain different types of zinc. The percentage of elemental zinc varies by form. For example, only about 23% of zinc sulfate consists of elemental zinc. That means 220mg of zinc sulfate only contains 50mg of elemental zinc. You’ll be able to find the elemental zinc content on the supplement facts panel on the supplement container.

Shop WellRabbit for Your Sleep Supplements!

Adequate sleep is vital for healthy living. Without it, your body wouldn’t be able to repair itself for a new day. Make sure you’re sleeping well with WellRabbit. We know just how important nutrition is for the human body, and, unfortunately, it’s all too common that people don’t receive enough nutritional benefits from their diet. Supplements are an excellent way to ensure you’re getting exactly what you need every day. Visit our website today to find the perfect sleep supplements for you!

Dr. Jeffrey Hendricks, MD

Jeffrey Hendricks, M.D., CEO Dr. Jeffrey Hendricks has an extensive research background in nutritional biochemistry and epigenetics and has developed over 1,000 nutritional products for companies in the U.S. and around the world. After spending four years at the University of Michigan’s Human Genetics Lab, he conducted research at the National Institutes of Health’s Laboratory for Gene Transfer. He’s served as a medical director in family medicine, integrative medicine, and occupational medicine, and is an advisory board member for many U.S. and international companies. The inspiration to start WellRabbit came about when helping his sister beat breast cancer, in which she took integrative medicine throughout her cancer treatment and never became ill. With WellRabbit, Dr. Hendricks has made it his mission to ensure those who are searching for quality nutritional supplements have a place they can trust. Dr. Hendricks’ clinical experience includes the treatment of over 50,000 patients, and his background, experience, and commitment to quality ideally suit his role as the Chief Executive Officer of WellRabbit.

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