Are natural supplements for a good night's sleep right for you? If you want to live a long and healthy life, the quality of sleep you get should be a top priority.
The problem is that in our technology-driven society it is almost impossible to get 8-9 hours of sleep on a regular basis. Poor sleep is something that happens regularly. That's where natural sleep supplements can provide just that little bit of extra help in improving your sleep.
Many people prefer natural supplements to prescription sleep aids. Unnatural sleeping pills can be addictive and can also result in unpleasant side effects.
In this article, we describe four natural food supplements that support you in getting a good night's sleep.
More people are turning to magnesium supplements to treat sleep problems. This is because magnesium has a range of effects that help calm and rest the body and mind before and during bedtime.
Sleep comes about through a very complex process of hormones and neurotransmitters – chemicals that send messages between your nervous system and your brain. Simply put, this process works together to activate the areas of the brain that allow you to sleep.
Magnesium as a mineral contributes to this process by regulating the neurotransmitters and ultimately calming your nervous system when you are ready for sleep. It also works with melatonin — a hormone your body produces naturally — to regulate your body clock and sleep-wake cycle.
This is why people use melatonin supplements as a sleep aid and why magnesium supplements are an effective alternative for a good night's sleep.
A good night's sleep with melatonin
The level of melatonin – which is produced by your body – rises in the evening (making you feel sleepy) and falls in the morning (which can make you alert).
Our bodies usually produce enough melatonin to effectively regulate this sleep-wake cycle, but for times when sleep is difficult (for example, a stressful work week or while traveling), melatonin supplements can help.
Melatonin has been shown to help with certain sleep disorders, such as jet lag, delayed sleep phase disorder, and some childhood sleep disorders. Furthermore, melatonin has been shown to improve total sleep time (both non-REM and REM sleep).
People who took a melatonin supplement fell asleep 7 minutes faster and slept an average of 8 minutes longer, according to a 2013 analysis in the journal PLoS One. This nutrient is therefore a great addition to this article about natural supplements for a good night's sleep.
L-theanine is an amino acid commonly found in tea; especially green tea. With its ability to increase relaxation and reduce stress, l-theanine can aid in getting a good night's sleep in several ways.
L-theanine supplements can help people fall asleep faster and easier thanks to the relaxation boost they provide. This amino acid is therefore one of the best natural supplements when you strive for a good night's sleep.
Research has been done on the effect of l-theanine. This study confirms the findings described above. Indeed, the relevant research shows that an l-theanine dietary supplement improves sleep in animals and humans – not by acting as a sedative, but by reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation.
Another 2011 study looked specifically at the effects of l-theanine on 98 boys ages 8 to 12 and found improvements after 6 weeks.
Vitamin B6 for a good night's sleep
Vitamin B6 is involved in many functions in the body. For example, it supports immune system health and aids in cognitive development. There is some evidence that B6 also promotes sleep.
Vitamin B6 supplements benefit the body by converting the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate the sleep hormone melatonin.
Vitamin B6 is water-soluble, meaning it cannot be stored in the body, while stress, smoking, and drinking alcohol can negatively affect absorption. That's why it's very important to make sure you get enough B6 every day.
Taking vitamin B6 dietary supplements can help maintain healthy B6 levels. This vitamin should therefore not be missing from the list of natural supplements for a good night's sleep.
Supplements for a good night's sleep summarized
In this article, we have described four natural supplements that can make an important contribution to a good night's sleep.
For example, you have read that magnesium calms the mind and body before going to sleep. A melatonin supplement raises the melatonin level in your body, making you feel sleepy.
L-theanine can also contribute to a good night's sleep – it makes it easier to fall asleep thanks to the relaxation boost it provides.
Finally, vitamin B6 results in an improved night's sleep, because it converts tryptophan into serotonin. Serotonin then ensures that the sleep hormone melatonin is better regulated.
As with all supplements, if you plan to use one or more of the nutritional supplements described in this article, it is important to first seek advice from your doctor or dietician.
In any case, the recommended daily amount of supplements should never be exceeded. The chance of side effects increases and it can be harmful to your health.
The content of this article is based on scientific publications and was written in collaboration with medical specialists/nutritionists.