By Jill Levy
Insufficient sleep has been called a “public health epidemic” by some sleep experts. According to some of the latest sleep-related research, a whopping 70 percent of American adults report getting insufficient sleep at least several times per month, while more than 10 percent say they struggle to sleep well almost every night.
Given how essential adequate sleep is for healthy immune system function, your outlook and for overall well-being, it’s no wonder that sleep supporters are being sought after by a growing number of exhausted, foggy-brained adults.
Do sleep supplements work? And if so, what is the best sleep product to add to your routine?
Below we’ll cover some of the best sleep supplements for promoting relaxation and helping you to unwind, as well as discuss how you can utilize certain macronutrients (including protein and complex carbs) and vitamins for sleep support.
Why Sleep Is Important
When we do the math, we find that each of us spends almost one-third of our lives sleeping, on average. This shows you just how important sleep is for your overall mental and physical health.
Being well-rested — which typically means getting between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night — promotes well-being in numerous ways, such as by supporting cognitive function, a healthy immune system, appetite control, metabolic processes and more.
When it comes to your ability to concentrate, learn and think, getting enough sleep is important for vigilance, reaction times, coordination, decision making and short-term memory.
Sleepiness has been identified as a leading cause of daytime fatigue, a not-so-positive outlook, accidents, a sedentary lifestyle and even healthy weight management issues. Your body can also be at its best when you consistently sleep enough, due to how sleep impacts gut health, which is where the majority of your immune system is located.
Best Sleep Supplements
What is the best supplement for sleep? The truth is, there isn’t just one supplement that’s the magic formula for sleeping better; however, a combination of healthy lifestyle habits plus taking certain herbs, vitamins, etc. can often help support for more restful sleep.
Here are some of the best sleep supplements for helping you get the shuteye you need. Of course, you should always consult your healthcare professional prior to starting any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including supplements.
Ancient Nutrition’s Stress and Sleep Support formula can help you to sleep more restfully due to its ability to support how your body adapts to stress.
This formula features several botanical and adaptogenic ingredients that have long been used in health traditions, such as Chinese Herbalism, to promote restful sleep. These include botanicals, herbs and mushrooms such as: reishi mushroom, passion flower, ashwagandha, lavender and hops.
Together these ingredients promote mental relaxation, help reduce stress, support healthy energy levels, and promote mental clarity and concentration.
Adults can take two capsules daily with water or another beverage, either with or without food.
Some people find that consuming moderate amounts of protein before bed helps them to sleep more soundly, likely because protein foods and supplements contain amino acids that are needed for the body to produce calming neurotransmitters.
Ancient Nutrition MCP Beauty + Sleep formula features five types of collagen protein (types I, II, III, V and X) along with botanicals including organic ashwagandha and astragalus root for restful sleep support. Ashwagandha can help alleviate the effects of stress and tension, while collagen supports overall skin health and skin elasticity, plus gut, joint hair and nail health.
Additionally, this formula includes a blend of 13 superfoods like acai berry, coffee fruit extract, Japanese sophora flower and more for healthy skin and antioxidant support.
Try adding one heaping scoop to warm water or nut milk, or include it in your favorite recipes such as healthy baked goods. We also recommend enjoying one scoop in warm coconut milk before bedtime as a component of your wind-down routine.
If you prefer an even easier way to take collagen, try Collagen Beauty + Sleep capsules that can be taken with water, herbal tea, etc.
Ashwagandha has been referred to as the “king of adaptogens” and has been widely known for centuries in Ayurvedic traditions to promote better sleep, help reduce stress and promote a positive mindset.
It can also support healthy energy levels, promote mental clarity and concentration, and even supports healthy joints.
Ancient Nutrition’s USDA Certified Organic Ashwagandha can be taken in a convenient once daily tablet, such as with water or your favorite beverage. Take it with or without food, but try to be consistent to see the best results.
Lavender oil has a naturally clean, calming scent that many people find helps them to relax and unwind before bed. There are numerous ways to use Ancient Nutrition’s certified USDA organic, non-GMO lavender oil, such as diffusing it for aromatherapy, or adding a drop to your pillows or bedding.
It can also be added to relaxing baths, rubbed onto the bottoms of your feet at bedtime or applied to your temples and the back of your neck.
Melatonin is certainly one of the most popular sleep supporters, although it’s intended to be used short-term in most cases.
Melatonin is often referred to as “the sleep hormone” because it helps to regulate your body's sleep-wake cycle. Although your body already makes some on its own, you can take more in capsule form to potentially help you feel drowsier at night and to promote healthy sleep by supporting your circadian rhythm.
Most often melatonin is taken in doses between 1 to 3 milligrams about two hours before bedtime. It can also be taken to help you adapt to jet lag when traveling.
Best Vitamins and Minerals for Sleep
Within a healthy diet there are actually some sleep-supporting nutrients, such as magnesium, B vitamins, as well as complex carbs and protein which help the body produce neurotransmitters associated with relaxation.
Generally speaking, magnesium is an essential mineral that’s responsible for hundreds of reactions within the body, and it’s often recognized for its calming benefits. It’s actually the least abundant serum electrolyte in the body, but it’s still extremely important for your overall metabolism, enzyme function, energy production and neurotransmitter functions.
Magnesium chelate is the form found in Ancient Nutrition’s Magnesium supplement, which is powered by fermentation and enzymatic activation. Ancient Nutrition’s unique formula also features vitamin D and multi-kingdom ingredients inspired by TCM (Traditional Chinese Method) for added healthy immune system, outlook, muscle, nerve and bone support.
Other recommended vitamins for sleep include B vitamins and vitamin D, both of which can be found in Ancient Nutrition’s fermented multivitamins (available for both men and women). We get most of our vitamin D from sunlight exposure, which explains why many adults seem to be lacking this vitamin due to spending most of their time indoors.
Vitamin D is thought to play a role in promoting a healthy circadian rhythm which supports restful sleep, while B vitamins such as B12 and folic acid generally support healthy cognitive function, energy levels and cell metabolism.
Jill Levy has been with the Dr. Axe and Ancient Nutrition team for five years. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Fairfield University, followed by a certification as a Holistic Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Jill takes a “non-diet” approach to health and really enjoys teaching others about mindful eating, intuitive eating and the benefits of eating real foods.