The best natural sleep aid varies from person to person. This article will explore what is the best natural sleep aid or aids (it’s usually a combo) for you.
When we talk about types of sleep disorders (other than “medical” like sleep apnea) we mean, sleep initiation and maintenance problems. We also mean sleep which is non-refreshing.
Before discussing the best natural sleep aid for you, let’s first figure out what phase of sleep is “your issue.” That makes sense, right?
Otherwise, we are just “shooting in the dark.” I’m giving you all the facts, but if you want to skip to the end to find THE best overall natural sleep aid, go ahead. DO, however, come back so you don’t miss out on what else you might also need.
Sleep Initiation (ability to fall asleep):
Many people have trouble falling asleep due stress. Some people feel that their head is “racing with various and often negative thoughts.” Obviously, there is a need for natural stress relief supplements and techniques
Another cause is you are highly caffeine sensitive, and any caffeine after lunch might keep you from getting a good night’s sleep.
Another issue affecting sleep initiation is how long before heading to bed do you stop eating? This is something people often do not associate with poor sleep, but it has a definite effect.
Not only can eating before bed interrupt your sleep pattern but also so can late-night exercise which for many gets the blood flowing. Exercise should be completed 4 hours before going to bed.
If you smoke, nicotine is also a stimulant. It CAN impair sleep initiation. I hope no one reading this is a smoker because smoking causes more than just sleep problems. As a side note, trying to stop smoking with patches and prescriptions rarely leads to quitting. If properly guided, I can help you stop more easily and permanently like I have for many others. Now, back to the topic.
Although not a stimulant, light and sound can also dramatically affect sleep initiation. Some people are very light sensitive (think about night-lights and LED’s), and others are sound sensitive (think about using silicone earplugs). Most people have some sleep interference if they use tablets, smartphones, and computers in bed. Television viewing in the bedroom can also interfere with sleep initiation.
Fortunately, these things are easy to test. Simply turn off the lights, regulate the sound or use earplugs, and leave the TV and computer-like devices off. Here’s a quick summary video of easy and helpful sleep-better tips everyone can use.
If you are getting poor sleep from waking up either during the night or too early, this has several potential causes. Reasons may include unshielded LED’s, snoring spouses or dogs (one of mine does, meaning one of my collies not one of my husbands!), and excess food and/or fluids pre-bedtime.
Something common that most people don’t know is that, while it might help you get to sleep if you’re stressed, alcohol is a big “wake-up” culprit.
Adrenal fatigue is almost always associated with wakes ups. In stages of adrenal fatigue 2, 3, and 4 (especially 2b-4) it is pretty universal and often the first sign of adrenal fatigue. What is adrenal fatigue? It’s a burnout, and it sure does wreck energy and sleep.
Mild depression can also cause frequent wake ups, which you may not recognize.
Additionally, if you KNOW you are feeling depressed, and have had any thoughts at all about hurting yourself or others, you must seek out professional help IMMEDIATELY!
Obviously, if you are waking up all night, you’ll still feel fatigue in the morning. That one is a bit of a “NO KIDDING!”, I know. But, if you are sleeping through the night, it may be you are not getting enough REM or deep sleep. Causes can be types of stress, mild depression, and even melatonin deficiency. Other causes may be you are getting inadequate amounts of sleep which is becoming rampant as we tend to work harder and harder, right? I don’t care what anyone says, they are compromising their health with 4 hours of sleep per night.
So, now you may “ponder” where the problems are. They could be in 1, 2 or all 3 of these sleep situations. Let me get into solutions. Remember please that this blog is only covering the basic question you want to know which is “what is the best natural sleep aid for you?”. You’ll get your answer, but for more complete information, please download my free Sleep book. You can find it at the end of this article. And of course, you can always contact me!
The best natural sleep aid and aids!
As we get older, our bodies produce less melatonin, which might explain why we have more sleep difficulties starting as young as age 30. Note that you need adequate levels of vitamin B12 to synthesize melatonin, so if you’re on Prilosec or other heartburn drugs or you’re a vegetarian, for example, you need B12 supplementation. A bonus is that B12 is the best of the basic vitamins that give you energy.
Supplementing with melatonin can help for those with difficulty falling asleep.
In fact, one study found that melatonin supplementation decreases sleep onset latency, and increases overall sleep quality.
Preferably, you should take any melatonin supplement around 30 minutes before you want to fall asleep.
Various supplements contain different amounts of melatonin. Studies show three milligrams is the average effective dose, but some people require even higher doses. Since you cannot OD on it, raise your dose as needed. More about dosage in a moment. This is the best natural sleep aid to take if you think you don’t really need one. Well, you do! You’ll sleep deeper if you take melatonin.
However, here are some suggestions:
For best sleep initiation melatonin that is liquid, chewable and put under the tongue, or capsule contents dissolved in water and swished will get you to sleep faster. There are interesting anti-aging studies which show the many benefits of melatonin including stimulation of brain cell stem cells to form new neurons as we age. A combination of curcumin, GPC, and melatonin help people with MCI.
My recommendation mirrors that of A4M (The American Academy of Anti-aging Medicine) which increases melatonin dosing by 1 mg per week until you hit 20 mg or so. The “or so” can be up to 100 mg which is what I take. Some people have dreams so vivid they awaken when they take this much.If this happens to you, cut back. It is also not advisable to start melatonin if you are experiencing adrenal fatigue.
In summary, if you need help falling asleep, use sublingual liquid, chewable, or dissolved “swishable” sublingual melatonin. For health and sleep maintenance you may also take a separate dose of a melatonin capsule in increasing doses as tolerated. In addition, pharmagaba is natural GABA which is chewable. It also passes the blood-brain barrier and is used for sleep initiation or wake-ups. I will discuss this in the wake-up section. This is good for an additional sleep initiation product, especially if stress is rearing its ugly head.
Sleep initiation also involves the “deactivation of adrenaline, ” and that calls for magnesium. 80% of Americans are Mg++ deficient and find that magnesium THREONATE (our product – the only form that passes the blood-brain barrier) helps with sleep, high cortisol levels, and general muscle soreness relief. Also, It is an unfamiliar, but excellent fibromyalgia natural treatment.
Inositol is a part of the B-vitamin family that helps your mind relax.
When you take inositol before bed, it will improve your overall sleep depth and quality.
It promotes a calming effect and studies show it may improve a wide range of mental health disorders including depression, anxiety, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive behavior.
It acts as a serotonin and dopamine messenger to enhance the action of both of these important brain chemicals.
For difficulty staying asleep, a typical dose would be 2-3 capsules, coupled with 1-2 other things on this list. Check the end of the article for what I recommend. It helps a bit with sleep initiation too. So, for some of you this is indeed the best natural sleep aid.
5-hydoxytrytophan (5-HTP) is synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan and eventually converted to serotonin, your feel-good neurotransmitter.
When comparing to tryptophan, supplementing with 5-HTP can better replenish serotonin levels as it is only one metabolic step away and has an easier time crossing the blood-brain barrier.
5-HTP dietary supplements help raise serotonin levels in the brain. Since serotonin helps regulate mood and behavior, 5-HTP may have a positive effect on sleep, mood, anxiety, appetite, and pain sensation.
For some, this is the best natural sleep aid.
Since 5-HTP improves your levels of serotonin, it has been shown to have a calming, relaxing result on brain chemistry.
Another study concluded those who took 5-HTP tended to have deeper sleep and fall asleep faster than others that used a placebo.
The optimal dose varies according to your GI tract because too much can cause loose stools as a side effect. I have people start with 200 mg and depending on someone’s GI tract, they might need 500, 1000, 2000 or 3000 mg to stay asleep through the night. The GI tract limits us which is where serotonin is made.
Those people who tend to be low in serotonin might be a little depressed (or not) and might be constipated (often). We push the dose of the 5-OH tryptophan until or unless there is lower GI cramping, or diarrhea. Often, people with a lifetime of constipation are cured when they take 5-OH tryptophan. Caution: Do NOT take this if you are on anti-depressants or have bipolar illness.
L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea that has been shown to decrease stress. Theanine has similar effects as meditation, by stimulating the alpha brainwaves that are naturally linked to deeper relaxation and increased mental clarity. When relaxation is deep, getting to sleep is easier. Studies have shown supplementing with 100-200 mg of L-theanine before bedtime may increase your sleep quality. Like most of the supplements mentioned, this may be found in common natural sleep aids. It is found in our most popular one, Sito-slumber, which is discussed below.
You need to be careful when you choose supplements to augment GABA. GABA is the anti-anxiety neurotransmitter that is the answer to sleep initiation and daily stress for some. Either a spray or a chewable supplement put under the tongue is acceptable.
This is the one I recommend for those pesky wake-ups when your brain is racing and you can’t get back to sleep.
You can have these by the bedside and use as much as needed.
Most oral supplements will not pass the blood-brain barrier and, hence, will not work.
Exceptions are when a product has been “tweaked” such as the GABA in our Sito-Slumber. This is the exception to the rule, though.
Combining Sleep Supplements
While each of these seven (5+the B12 and Mg++) science-based supplements work well, they can all be “mixed and matched.”
I find that melatonin is for all. Your melatonin levels take a big dive after age 30. The 5-OH tryptophan (5-HTP) is great to help people sleep through the night. Inositol deepens sleep and helps prevent the wake ups. For those with high anxiety levels getting into bed, I like to add the GABA chewables. For all sleep issues, I strongly recommend magnesium threonate. As mentioned earlier the PharmaGABA chewables are the best for getting back to sleep. Some people prefer the SitoSlumber to get to sleep and a second one to get back to sleep. More about this below.
The best natural sleep aid overall is by far our SitoSlumber™
I find this product to be great at bedtime and again, great for that big wake-up. It is a product with a super silly name, Sito-slumber. It has enough melatonin, GABA, inositol, and L-theanine to be effective for most people.
Also, for rapid absorption you can always dump the contents into water for sleep initiation or wake-ups.
It is our best natural sleep aid combo and our #1 seller for sure! However, if you have had serious sleeping issues for a while it likely won’t be enough and you’ll need extra GABA and inositol