In my VIP Wellness Club, we’ve had a week of focusing on how to improve sleep. After all, it’s one of the important puzzle pieces for better weight management.
And in this article, I’ll share some natural sleep supplements that might help you in case counting sheep didn’t do the trick for you. Because if you’ve tried all the other tips, that have not worked, maybe it’s time to try something else.
Lack of sleep can have so many negative consequences on our health.
It can lead to reduced metabolism, blood sugar and insulin spikes, increased carb cravings, and even hormonal changes. Nobody wants to end up with these issues, so it’s pretty important to prioritize getting enough sleep
I read that roughly 30% of adults report having sleep issues, and 10% experience chronic insomnia. Therefore before turning to prescription sleep aids, I thought I’d mention these 7 natural supplements that may help to promote better rest.
This ancient Chinese herb may help alleviate insomnia and even improve sleep quality. Ginkgo works by reducing levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that can inhibit restful sleep. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
Some evidence shows that taking 250 mg of standardized ginkgo extract 30-60 minutes before bedtime may aid sleep, though more studies are still needed. Those on blood thinners must avoid ginkgo.
Glycine is an amino acid that plays a role in the nervous system. Several studies mentioned that taking 3 grams of glycine powder about an hour before bed significantly improves sleep quality and reduces daytime fatigue.
Glycine is thought to work by lowering core body temperature and inhibiting brain signals that keep you awake. I do NOT recommend it to people with diabetes or kidney disease.
Valerian is a sedative herb that has been used for centuries to treat insomnia and anxiety. Valerenic acid, one of its active compounds, helps inhibit the breakdown of the sleep-inducing neurotransmitter GABA. Several studies have confirmed valerian’s effectiveness in improving sleep quality and reducing the time it takes to fall asleep.
I’ve got a tea with 4-5 gentle herbs including Valerian root. So it is not the main component. And it definitely helps me to sleep much better. I can’t imagine taking a full-on valerian root tea. I’d never wake up again.
The recommended dosage for those with severe insomnia is 450-900 mg taken 30-60 minutes before bedtime. Valerian is considered safe for short-term use, but long-term safety remains unknown.
Magnesium plays a critical role in muscle relaxation. Deficiency in this key mineral is linked to poor sleep quality. One study found that 500 mg of a daily magnesium supplement for 8 weeks significantly improved insomnia, sleep efficiency, morning alertness, and melatonin levels.
Besides being used as a natural sleep supplement, it’s got quite a few more benefits including helping to relieve anxiety, promote bone health, manage blood sugar in people with diabetes and may even lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In addition, it helps to maintain regular heart rhythms, reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), increases exercise performance, and may reduce pain.
It’s absorbed really well and less likely to cause digestive side effects. Those with kidney disease should avoid magnesium supplements.
Food Sources of Magnesium (with approx. daily percentages):
We need around 320mg a day
- Pumpkin Seeds: 1/2 oz = 9%
- Almonds: 1/2 oz = 8%
- Cashews: 1/2 oz = 9%
- Black Beans: 1/2 cup cooked= 15%
- Edamame: 1/2 cup = 8%
- Raw Cacao Powder: 1 tablespoon = 5%
- Avocado: ½ a small = 6%
- Quinoa(cooked): 1/2 cup = 13%..
- Rolled uncooked oats = ½ cup or 40g contains 60mg
L-theanine is an amino acid found in green and black tea leaves. Studies tell us that this natural sleep supplement can enhance relaxation and helps improve sleep quality at doses of 100-400 mg. L-theanine elevates levels of GABA and other calming neurotransmitters in the brain.
Some studies suggest that taking L-theanine together with Ginkgo biloba may be more effective for treating insomnia than either supplement alone. L-theanine is considered very safe, although those on high blood pressure medications should use caution.
Lavender’s sweet floral scent has long been used in aromatherapy to promote tranquillity and wellness. It’s been known for a long time as a relaxing and sedative supplement. Silexan, a preparation made from lavender oil, is said to reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality in doses of 80-160 mg/day.
The compounds linalool and linalyl acetate give lavender its calming, sleep-enhancing effects. For best results, take lavender supplements at least an hour before bed or diffuse lavender oil in your bedroom. The diffuser would be my preferred option. Smells so lovely.
7. Last but not least, one of the oldest natural sleep supplements: Chamomile
Chamomile is another herb traditionally used as a tranquillizer and as a natural sleep supplement. Some evidence suggests chamomile modestly improves sleep quality in humans. I know we used to give a splash of chamomile tea in water for babies to help them sleep…except 46 years ago it certainly didn’t make my baby Andrew sleep. He would have needed an entire harvest of chamomile to do that.
The active ingredients appear to be apigenin and other antioxidant flavonoids. Typical doses range from 220-1100 mg taken 30-60 minutes before bedtime. Chamomile is thought to be generally safe, but those with ragweed allergies may have an unpleasant reaction to it.
‘Natural’ Isn’t Necessarily ‘Benign’
While these supplements are from natural sources, they still have an effect on the body. So it’s wise to just check in with your doctor before trying any such supplements, especially if you take prescription medications or have a medical condition.
And then best to start with low doses and monitor any side effects.
Additionally, supplements are definitely no substitute for healthy sleep habits.
Here are the usual recommendations: limit evening screen use, avoid caffeine in the afternoon, reduce noise and don’t drink alcohol before bedtime. Then we have the other tips like switching off all lights in your bedroom, establishing a calming pre-bed routine, and best of all trying to find out what’s causing your sleep issues.
Maybe a stressful job or an unhealthy diet?
If want to try any lifestyle changes or new herbal supplements just make one change at a time. Otherwise, you may not know which bit is working, and which one is totally unnecessary.
And if it is a serious issue, have a talk with your doctor to make sure there are no underlying health issues that can cause your lack of sleep.
In closing, follow dosage instructions very carefully and have patience when testing new supplements or changes to your sleep routine. These things may not give you instant relief like a drug that knocks you out. Effects may take several weeks before they become evident.