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Natural sleep aids are herbal and dietary supplements meant to help you fall and stay asleep in situations when your natural biological rhythm is disrupted, such as during jet lag. The fact that the ingredients are all natural goes a long way towards preventing any nasty side-effects you’d get from prescription medication, but natural sleep aids aren’t monitored by governing bodies like the FDA. What this means is that you have to find information by yourself, and consult your doctor if anything is unclear. Our goal with this article is to help simplify your decision-making process so that you can get a safe, reliable and affordable sleep aid.
Utzzz’s Stay Asleep Natural Sleep Aid
A single bottle of this natural sleep aid will last roughly 15 days. You are supposed to take four capsules an hour before you go to bed. The ingredients of this product have been thoroughly tested for quality, purity, and strength. Their website lists a lot of the ingredients such as chamomile extract, PharmaGABA, and Suntheanine (from green tea). The latter two help you relax by blocking cascading brain signals and weakening beta brain waves (alertness and excitement) while enhancing alpha brain waves (relaxation).
The idea is to help you fall asleep and improve the amount of rest you get. The magnesium in this sleep aid also helps those of us with migraine problems or frequent headaches in general. If you have that issue, this product offers even more value for the money. It isn’t the only Utzy Natural sleep aid on this list, which means they’re a tried-and-true veteran company by now, and their stuff works reliably.
OLLY Restful Sleep Gummy Supplement
It’s easy to see a product like this and think it’s meant for children. After all, this is a sleep aid framed like a delicious treat, and that’s normally a tactic used to persuade children to take their medicine regularly. However, the OLLY Restful Sleep Gummy Supplement is meant for ages 18 and up, meaning it’s very strictly NOT for children.
In terms of ingredients, these gummies bring the agreed-upon 3mg of melatonin, L-Theanine, chamomile and lemon balm extract to promote more restorative sleep and reduce anxiety. The taste will remind you of blackberry, which can lead to a feeling of freshness in your mouth as you try to relax. The standard package comes with 50 gummies, and you’re meant to take two right before bed. Remember to keep these gummies away from kids!
Nature Made Melatonin
Melatonin is the “sleep hormone.” Our body is meant to produce it in the pineal gland regularly to help us fall asleep naturally. However, this balance is easily disrupted, and this is why people turn to natural melatonin supplements such as this one. Nature Made Melatonin is as basic as you can get. The package contains 240 tablets, and you’re meant to take one before bedtime. It doesn’t contain preservatives, extra ingredients, and artificial flavoring. It’s simple but reliable. This product is meant for people at and above age 18.
You get a lot of bang for your buck with this natural sleep aid, as the number of tablets is enough to keep you and your spouse sleeping soundly for four months, if not more! Note: Do not take these tablets if you’re a nursing mother or if you are pregnant without consulting your doctor first. In those cases, it’s not uncommon to have a pill like this directly prescribed.
Utzy Naturals’ Micro Melatonin
We briefly mentioned it above, and here it is. There are two main ingredients in this sleep aid – 250mcg of melatonin and 100mg sour cherry powder. The sour cherry powder is meant to help your body naturally produce more melatonin, which helps normalize your biological cycle. The actual melatonin dose is small on purpose. If you talk to a sleep expert, you’ll most likely find them recommending a smaller dose, at least initially. It has the added benefit of letting you carefully manage doses, and avoid having to chop the pills in half or anything similar.
Dissolve one of these tablets around 30 minutes before going to bed. It will taste like cherry water, which is a helpful way to encourage people to remember their medicine on a daily basis. This product is for adults, 18 years and up.
Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Sleep Chewable Tablet with Melatonin
So far, we’ve only showcased natural sleep aids aimed at adults. If your kids are encountering sleeping problems, there is no better alternative to Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Sleep Tablet. The minimum age for taking this supplement is three, although you can increase the dosage for kids around age six and age twelve. It’s a tasty chewable tablet that is meant to make kids enthusiastic about taking the supplement. Each tablet is just 1mg of melatonin, and the lack of any artificial sweeteners and other similar substances is a huge hit among parents.
Before you commit to this pill, make sure the environment the child sleeps in isn’t negatively affecting their natural sleep schedule. Make them turn off their screens 30 minutes prior to bed, don’t play around wildly with them, etc. Depending on your child’s age, this supplement will run out after almost two months or less.
Nested Naturals Luna Natural Sleep Aid
The ingredients list here might look intimidating to a layman, but let’s run through the main things. Melatonin and extract from valerian root are the core ingredients to creating a quality sleeping aid. Valerian root extract is less commonly found, but it’s a tried and true ingredient for helping a person relax. Additional ingredients like lemon balm and chamomile extracts, hops and passion flower all work together to suppress anxiety and keep you asleep long, which sets you up for a healthier natural sleep schedule.
This product is entirely vegan-friendly, gluten-free and non-GMO, so if you’re worried about dietary implications, you’re in the clear. Keep in mind, the dosage of each ingredient is kind of high, so since the smart approach is to start small, you may want to take half-pills initially. As with most products on this list, the Luna Natural Sleep Aid should be kept away from people under the age of 18.
Vitafusion Extra Strength Melatonin
If your sleep issues have become serious enough that you want a higher dosage of melatonin, this Vitafusion Extra Strength Melatonin sleep aid is for you. It’s one of the highest recommended doses of melatonin out there, and most people really don’t need a dose this powerful. In case you don’t either, you can just take half the recommended amount to keep things sensible.
The flavor is that of natural blackberry, without high-fructose corn syrup, dairy, gluten or artificial flavoring of any kind. It makes the sleep aid vegan-friendly, which can be a huge selling point. If you need a large supply of melatonin due to a prescription or continued problems sleeping, this bottle can solve your problems for longer than other products, thanks to its high dosage. Also due to that high melatonin dose, this sleep aid is only intended for adults, meaning age 18 and higher. More so than any other product on our list, keep this one away from your kids.
We’ve gone over the sleeping aids themselves, but now let’s do some explaining. Someone looking into sleep aids, natural or not, will have lots of questions. It’s not easy to part with money for a product that may fail, or produce possibly problematic side-effects. So let’s examine some core ingredients that go into natural sleeping aids, and why you should be happy to see them on the label:
Valerian root has been popular for decades now. Although there are some studies in recent years that dispute its effectiveness, it keeps receiving subjective praise from millions. The main purpose of this herb is to combat insomnia in the short term (like most other relevant ingredients on this list), but it has seen use as a way to relieve psychological stress and anxiety. The only notable side-effect is dizziness, and even this is rare, so valerian root is perfectly safe for consumption.
Without a doubt, melatonin is the most crucial ingredient to any good sleep aid. Melatonin is the “sleep hormone,” and our body produces it in the pineal gland to signal our body that it’s time for sleep. The production of melatonin is a huge part of our biological cycle, but sadly it’s very easy to disrupt. Think about your daily habits: Do you sleep during the day for whatever reason? Do you spend a lot of time in front of screens? Do you exercise very late, or do anything similar that could keep you awake for longer than you should be awake? If the answer is yes, then your melatonin production is likely delayed. This problem leads to sleep irregularities and insomnia, and the habits are very hard to break, having often been introduced years into the past.
Depending on how old you are, whether you have any external medical conditions and how much trouble you have sleeping, the dosage varies between 0,1mg and 5mg. This supplement serves to correct your daily melatonin production, especially in cases of jet lag or night shift work.
Magnesium is mostly found in our bones, but as a sleeping aid, it’s been proven to have a relaxing effect. It calms the brain by improving the effectiveness of melatonin and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), and through its calming effect.
Magnesium tablets and pills are also recommended for people who face migraine attacks and chronic headaches. Since headaches and bad sleep form a vicious cycle of bad health, magnesium can soothe both halves of the issue and let you finally get some good shut-eye.
Various herbs and extracts are added to most sleeping aids to promote further relaxation and longer sleep. Not all of them are great news. However – herbs like lavender can come with worrying side-effects, and sometimes their effects are only noticed in a very subjective, insubstantial way. We’ll cover the most relevant and reliable herbs and extracts here:
- Chamomile is often consumed in the form of chamomile tea. It can improve the amount of time it takes a person to fall asleep, and it is therefore used in extract form as an ingredient in various natural sleep aids.
- Passion flower is a plant commonly associated with sleep aids and sleeping in general. Unfortunately, its effects in the form of a supplement pale in comparison to simple tea from this flower. There are no noted side-effects, so it’s safe for consumption.
- Lemon balm works in sleep aids because it improves the efficiency of the GABA receptors located in your brain. This naturally makes it easier for the rest of the supplement ingredients to do their work, especially valerian root.
Amino acids are used to improve your general bodily functions. Sleep just happens to be one of those functions, and so it’s common to see certain amino acids listed in the ingredients of popular sleep aids.
- Glycine helps you sleep as it lowers your bodily temperature during the night and can be taken an hour or so before sleep as a supplement, much like melatonin.
- L-Theanine works mainly to relieve anxiety, which helps you relax and stay asleep. It’s also used to help patients with ADHD sleep properly, which is one of the hardest patient group to satisfy.
- Tryptophan helps your body produce two important hormones. Melatonin should be familiar by now, and serotonin is the hormone of happiness so it naturally helps you relax and sleep soundly.
Pro Tip: Consult your doctor about any sleeping aid you wish to start using. They have your medical history and are equipped and trained to recommend good, tested natural sleep aids.
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Co-founder of Counting Sheep and Sleepaholic