Getting enough sleep is essential for our overall health. However, if you struggle to get 8 hours of rest or struggle with insomnia every night, getting quality sleep isn’t always easy. There are a lot of sleep tips out there, and you might think that heavy medication is your best bet. Thankfully, vitamins, whether obtained from diet or in pill form, can play a vital role in promoting healthy sleep.
To know more: groggy from melatonin? Try this dietary supplement to fall asleep instead
Here are the best vitamins and supplements to take for a better night’s sleep.
How we picked the best vitamins for sleep
The vitamins and supplements on this list were chosen from my personal experience of natural sleep aids and heavy market research. Each vitamin or supplement is backed by scientific studies. While the supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, all of the supplements on this list are considered generally safe sleep aids. Precautions, especially with some medications, are listed.
The best vitamins and supplements for sleep
Give up sleeping pills with side effects that make you feel sleepy. Promote sleepiness with these natural vitamins and supplements.
This essential nutrient is important for brain and muscle function, blood pressure regulation, bone development, and more. Additionally, magnesium can help you sleep at night. Studies suggest that magnesium may help insomnia due to the way the nutrient helps regulate our circadian rhythm. Low magnesium levels have also been associated with poor sleep.
There are few or no side effects of magnesium. However, too high a dose can lead to nausea, cramps and diarrhea.
Melatonin is one of the most popular sleep supplements. This hormone is already naturally produced in the brain during the night, telling the body it’s time for bed. Synthetic melatonin mimics this natural hormone and can help you fall asleep faster. It can also help jet lag and some sleep disorders such as delayed sleep-wake phase disorder.
With melatonin, watch out for side effects such as headaches, stomach pain, daytime fatigue, and strange dreams.
Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)
Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, also known as GABA, is an amino acid neurotransmitter found naturally in our brains (and also in some foods) that helps calm the body. By slowing messages from the brain to the central nervous system, GABA may be able to reduce anxiety, stress and increase sleep quality. One study found that 300 mg of GABA per day improved the quality of sleep in 40 insomnia patients after four weeks.
More studies on the effects of GABA supplements are needed. Use precautions if pregnant or nursing. Talk to your doctor before starting any supplements.
This amino acid is found naturally in mushrooms and processed into some teas. L-Theanine behaves similarly to glutamate, an amino acid in our brain that helps transmit signals throughout the body. Studies suggest that L-Theanine may promote calmness and relieve anxiety and stress. One review found L-Theanine to be a generally safe natural sleep aid that doesn’t make you feel groggy.
Be careful not to mix L-theanine with blood pressure medications. The amino acid can lower blood pressure, so take precautions and talk to your doctor if you’re taking medication for high blood pressure. Also be weary of mixing L-Theanine with sedative drugs.
Valerian root comes from a white flower native to Europe and Asia. The plant has long been used to treat cramps, headaches and, most commonly, insomnia. While research is lacking, some studies suggest valerian root is best for those struggling to sleep with menopausal symptoms. This low-risk herbal remedy is affordable and can improve overall sleep quality.
You can drink valerian root in a tea or take it in a supplement. If you’re really looking for a relaxing and sleep-inducing tea, find a valerian root tea AND chamomile.
Chamomile is a flower widely used to promote sleepiness and help with anxiety. It can also relieve stomach pain symptoms. When taken at night, chamomile tea can calm the mind and induce sleep. Studies suggest that flavonoids (the chemicals found in plants) bind well to GABAA neuroreceptors in the brain.
I recommend taking chamomile in a tea. It’s much cheaper than opting for a chamomile supplement.
It should be noted that vitamin D can also promote a good night’s sleep. However, it’s not the vitamin itself that helps insomnia. Instead, taking a vitamin D supplement is a good idea if you’re vitamin deficient. Studies have found that low vitamin D levels have been linked to poor sleep. This could be because vitamin D is needed in all tissues of the brain, especially the parts essential for sleep.
I don’t recommend taking a specific vitamin D supplement for sleep unless you’re already deficient in it. Instead, turn to the other vitamins and supplements on this list.
Risk of sleep supplements
Vitamins and supplements are generally considered safe as they are already found naturally in our diets and bodies. However, before taking any supplements, talk to your doctor. Supplements can interact with some medications and have risky side effects. Especially if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s important to discuss vitamins and supplements with your primary care physician before you start taking them.
FAQs on the best vitamins for sleep
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