Best Sleep Aid Guide: Supplements, Ingredients, & Herbs

Best Sleep Aid

If you’re looking for the best sleep aid, then get ready for PowerDown Amino PM!

Insomnia is a wretched beast, affecting anywhere from ¼[1] to nearly ⅓[2] of the US Population.

Everyone has their tips on for behaviorally combating insomnia. We don’t — you can read that anywhere else.

In this guide, we’re going to get to what you want: supplements to help you sleep.

Note that we’re talking about dietary supplements here – not drugs. This mainly means that these products are “natural” or contain ingredients that are found in nature.

If your sleep issues are so pervasive that your life is literally falling apart, then you need to see a doctor, get a sleep study done (this is a must), and then consider any drugs.

But for mild/occasional issues, the following list of supplements are also worth trying under your doctor’s supervision. Only try one at a time, and use exactly as directed or as directed by your doctor.

Choose your own adventure

In this guide, there are two paths you can look at:

You’ll learn the most in the individual ingredient section, and sometimes it’s just one single ingredient that will set you straight. However, most users ultimately enjoy the products better because they have synergistic effects.

We enjoy the multi-ingredient products since they typically work better than any one ingredient on its own.

Unless you click for the ingredients, the first section will discuss the sleep aid products:

Best Sleep Supplements

Let’s get right to it. Here’s our list:

  1. 1. Muscle Elements PowerDown Amino PM

    Amino PM

    Get ready to PowerDown with Amino PM. Both athletes and insomniacs will love this one!

    If you’re one of our followers on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll know that we are huge fans of the breakout brand, Muscle Elements. This company provides 100% open formula supplements and works hard to educate new consumers about diet, nutrition, and supplementation.

    PowerDown Amino PM is without a doubt the sleep supplement that athletes must try. Muscle Elements combined two important categories here into one fantastic product: sleep and sports recovery.

    Starting with the sleep side

    On the sleep side of the equation, we have solid doses of glycine, GABA, tryptophan, and melatonin. Other aminos, such as L-arginine and L-lysine may simultaneously lower anxiety levels while naturally boosting growth hormone, keeping you healthier.

    As if that wasn’t enough, there is a blend of adaptogens inside, which help lower cortisol (the stress hormone) and hormonal levels that are ‘off’. Ashwagandha is our favorite of this bunch, and we’re surprised no other sleep supplement has included it, since it might be just what you need to get you ‘normal’.

    Amino PM Ingredients

    The Muscle Elements PowerDown Amino PM Ingredients, in its full, non-proprietary glory!

    Each scoop contains 1.5mg of melatonin, but the glory of having a powdered formula is that you can adjust it as needed. As discussed in our melatonin section, the sweet spot for most people is somewhere between 2mg and 3mg. So for most users, that puts you right around 1.5 scoops, making a single tub of Amino PM last exactly one month.

    On to the athletic side

    The athletic recovery portion comes from a serious helping of amino acids, including the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), glutamine, and a great blend of the other essential amino acids (EAAs). These are all important to keep your muscles from further damage while you sleep, and help swing them into the anabolic muscle-building and repair mode instead.

    But that’s just the tip of the iceberg – the best part of Amino PM’s recovery blend is the use of ActiveTR, a time-released form of leucine, which is the most important of all amino acids when it comes to muscle tone. It kicks in after a few hours, and will last all night long to fuel your body and brain with the aminos needed to keep them happy.

    This is important even if you’re not an athlete – everyone needs essential amino acids like leucine to function (that’s why they’re called essential!!)

    As athletes who sometimes “get too sore and wound up to fall asleep”, we couldn’t be more excited about this blend, and beta testing it has been lights out.

    But don’t discredit it even if you’re not a fitness junkie — you might be surprised what the solid doses of amino acids like glycine, arginine, lysine, and tryptophan can do for you – and they’re not in nearly any of the sleeping pills you may have tried in the past.

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  2. 2. Magnum Nutraceuticals G-Spring

    Magnum G-Spring

    Lower-dose melatonin not working for you? Then you MUST try this one!

    Are you a melatonin-lover? Or do you think you’re a melatonin “non-responder”? Then you might just need to try G-Spring!

    This is another sleep supplement that’s marketed towards athletes, but don’t let that fool you: this just might be exactly what you’re looking for – you just didn’t know it yet.

    Whereas every other sleep product on this list uses either no melatonin or a low-dose of melatonin, G-Spring turns the tables and uses a relatively large 20mg of melatonin per four capsule serving!

    20mg might seem like a lot, since most people stay at the 3mg range, but there is plenty of research showing no side effects to doses this large – or even doses over 10x larger than 20mg! We discuss that in our melatonin section.

    So not only is the dose okay, it’s different and a lot of people (ourselves included) surprisingly love it. 3mg melatonin on its own never really worked for your writer here at PricePlow, but when beta-testing G-Spring, it worked like magic!

    Magnum G-Spring Ingredients

    The G-Spring Ingredient Label / Supplement Facts

    Melatonin dosing is a personal thing, and if you’re like me, you might need more than you thought to get it to work!

    On top of the melatonin, there is the very useful arginine / lysine amino acid combination, which has been shown to reduce anxiety.

    However, the strongest thing in this whole supplement may be the bacopa monnieri 30:1 herbal extract, which comes in at a serious 220mg.

    And finally, a quality 100mg dose of l-theanine, a relaxant amino acid that also boosts some cognitive measures.

    The last thing to note is that the serving size for the doses we’re mentioning above is for four capsules — so if you want to start with about 10mg melatonin, just take half.

    As Magnum says: two thumbs up, two pillows down for G-Spring!

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  3. 3. AI Sports Nutrition 3Z

    AI Sports Nutrition 3Z

    AI 3Z is a top-rated capsule formula, but we’d still like to see an open formula

    3Z is listed first here because it wisely combines the best of both worlds: herbal ingredients with functional single-ingredient compounds.

    The herbal ingredients

    On the herbal side, we have valerian, magnolia, passion flower, and bacopa monnieraall ingredients that are recommended to try in the ‘natural’ section of this guide.

    The bonus amino acid compounds

    However, AI then adds a dose of L-Theanine and GABA, two compounds that we also recommend trying. L-Theanine is a great relaxant, and if the dose of GABA is done properly, you’ll been melting into your bed well within a half hour of use.

    But that’s not all: AI somehow found a way to fit a huge 400mg dose of magnesium (from magnesium chelate), which is also tied to a ton of successful sleep research.

    We hate proprietary blends… but this one seems pretty good

    AI Sports Nutrition 3Z Ingredients

    3Z’s proprietary blend is annoying, but it’s heart is clearly in the right place!

    The unfortunate side of this formula is that it’s in a proprietary blend, so you have to trust that AI Sports mixed it properly. Given the wonderful reviews this product gets, the lack of side effects it gave us — and the incredible price it sells for — we’re happy to list it high and proudly on the list.

    Note that there is no melatonin in this, which allows you to add your own very inexpensively, at your own pace and at your own dose.

    Some of you might not like pills before bed, but the good news is that if you can get it down with only a little bit of water, you shouldn’t need to wake up to use the restroom.

    At the end of the day, this is quite a masterful mix of “naturalist” thinking and “new school supplement science”, and nearly every ingredient has research behind it regarding sleep and anxiety reduction. It’s been a top-seller in this category for years for a reason, and more people should know about it.

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  4. 4. NOW Sleep

    NOW Sleep

    NOW Sleep has the potent valerian/hops combination that has much research behind it

    NOW Foods is a no-nonsense company with straight-up formulas — and even more straight-up formula names!

    With their aptly-titled Sleep product (which replaces their “Nighttime Herbs”), you get four ingredients we love in every two capsules:

    1. 600mg Valerian Root (Min. 0.8% Valerenic Acids)
    2. 300mg Hops (4:1 Concentrate) (Strobiles)
    3. 200mg passionflower (Min. 3.5% Total Flavonoids As Vitexin)
    4. 200mg GABA

    So this product stays a lot closer to the “herbal” side than the “chemical” side, and uses solid doses. It also explains the standardizations, which we are all about.

    Introducing Hops

    NOW Sleep Ingredients

    NOW Foods brings high-quality, no-nonsense vitamins and herbs like this Sleep supplement

    The reason this one is so high on this list and different than the others are the Hops. Yes, the flower used to brew beer! This is one of the most underrated sleep ingredients, and is frequently paired with Valerian, which you also get here.

    There’s some cool hops research out there, too. Even drinking a nonalcoholic beer brewed from hops can improve sleep parameters. This is discussed in greater detail in our hops section.

    Strong doses

    As for taking this supplement, the doses are such that you can most likely get away with one capsule for starters, saving you even more money if you just need a little edge taken off.

    NOW’s Sleep is also another product without melatonin – you can add your own if you so wish.

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  5. 5. Jarrow Formulas Sleep Optimizer

    Jarrow Formulas Sleep Optimizer

    The added L-Tryptophan is a nice touch, and you can still add your own melatonin

    Not to let NOW Foods be the only value-based vitamin brand with a great sleep product, Jarrow Formulas also puts together an exceptional product in their Sleep Optimizer.

    1. Valerian Root (400mg)
    2. L-Tryptophan (300mg)
    3. Hops (100mg)
    4. Lemon Balm (100mg)
    5. GABA (100mg)
    6. Melatonin (0.3mg)

    So with Sleep Optimizer, not only do we get the valerian / hops combination that has so much research to it, we also have a small blast of tryptophan and GABA to help put you down faster.

    Jarrow Formulas Sleep Optimizer

    Jarrow’s Sleep Optimizer is similar but different to NOW’s Sleep

    And on top of that, our favorite – lemon balm, which, like hops, we find to be incredibly underrated.

    What’s with the melatonin dose?

    The melatonin dose may seem a bit odd, but for some users, that’s literally all it takes. And if you want to add 2mg or 3mg (or even 10mg) more, that’s not going to be a problem at all.

    Melatonin has a very personalized dose – you need to see what works best for you – so with 0.3mg in a “general” sleep supplement like this one, there definitely won’t be any harm but it might be just enough to help out.

    Whether you want this one or NOW Foods depends on if you want a bit less valerian and hops in exchange for lemon balm. You really can’t go wrong with either.

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  6. 6. Nature’s Way Melissa Leaves

    Nature's Way Melissa Leaves

    Just one ingredient in this low-cost lemon balm sleep supplement!

    This is a simple product that contains just one ingredient: 500mg of Melissa Leaves in each capsule. Melissa Leaves are otherwise known as lemon balm, one of the most under-utilized sleep aids.

    You can read about lemon balm by clicking the link. We’re fans of Nature’s Way as we also use their Curcumin for Joint Pain (Curcumin Phytosome), and surprisingly, not many companies have a basic lemon balm / Melissa officinalis products. We’re not sure why, given their ridiculous sales numbers on Amazon.

    As you’ll note, this product is also insanely cheap (it’s just a basic member of the mint family) and scores fantastic reviews.

    So why doesn’t anyone know about it? Why isn’t it in more products? We’re honestly don’t know, given its wonderful effects. But we just love it – especially at that price.

    Nature's Way Melissa Leaves

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  7. 7. Ronnie Coleman’s Signature Series – Resurrect PM

    Ronnie Coleman Resurrect PM

    Ronnie Coleman’s not-so-lightweight Sleep Product!

    The flagship product of the Ronnie Coleman Signature Series, Resurrect PM is an industry leader for athletes who are looking to sleep and recover better.

    With a solid gram of GABA, paired with another solid 150mg dose of magnesium, both of which will improve sleep. In addition, L-arginine may help as well, and when paired with mucuna pruriens, it may increase the release of growth hormone (which is overall the purpose of the product).

    While it doesn’t contain “ZMA”, it contains the general constituents of it, including the magnesium, which research backs as a great sleep aid. Vitamin B6 is also part of that, and can lead to vivid dreams.

    Finally, L-Theanine is a relaxant that’s buried somewhere in the proprietary blend, which may make it easier to relax and fall asleep.

    Like many of the others on this list, Resurrect PM is melatonin-free, allowing you to add your own.

    Reviews of Resurrect PM have been phenomenal, but you do have to consider when the review came. In 2014, there was a major label change, at least in the US:

    Note on Phenibut and label changes

    Note that Resurrect PM originally had the ingredient phenibut, which we discuss in detail later on in this page. Removing phenibut from the formula makes Resurrect PM work a bit “less” for anyone who’s tried the original formula, but it’s also much safer.

    The Australian version may still have this ingredient in it – check to make sure – at which point we don’t recommend it for nightly use. Just once or twice a week.

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  8. 8. NutraBio ZMA

    NutraBio ZMA

    We trust NutraBio due to their near-insane approach to quality manufacturing practices.

    We’ve talked a bit about ZMA so far, so it’s time we mention one of our top ZMA products!

    ZMA is a trademark formula composed of zinc monomethionine and aspartate (30 mg), magnesium aspartate (450 mg), and vitamin B6 as pyridoxine hydrochloride (10.5 mg).

    As discussed in the ZMA ingredient area, it’s the magnesium that’s helping user sleep the most – this is where America is definitely deficient. But the anecdotes of vivid dreams are backed up by research on vitamin B6.

    Why NutraBio?

    So, since all ZMA products are effectively the same, why NutraBio? Because this is a brand that cares about quality to a level of near-insanity.

    NutraBio’s been around since 1996, and every one of their products has a 100% open formula. Even their powdered products state how much flavoring and “other ingredients” are inside – something unheard of in this industry!

    Beyond that, their products are produced in their impeccable FDA-inspected and cGMP-compliant facility, they use independent lab testing to HPLC standards, and the ZMA is vegetarian, kosher-certified, non-GMO, and hypoallergenic.

    After surveying the data, we trust NutraBio more than basically any other brand.

    NutraBio

    Pure Supplements. Pure Results. And they’ll back those supplements up with third party lab tests.

    Why isn’t there a full ZMA dose in the other sleep suppelements?

    To get 450mg of magnesium out of magnesium aspartate, you need a lot of product, which is why ZMA often comes in three or four capsules.

    Also note the type of magnesium used here – aspartate. This form of magnesium simply tastes awful, and that’s why the above (and below) powder-based products don’t have this type/dose of magnesium. To flavor it, you have to add way so many masking agents you’d nearly double the scoop size!

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    ZMA is a trademark of SNAC System, Inc.

  9. 9. Muscle Pharm’s Arnold Schwarzenegger Iron Dream

    MusclePharm's Arnold Iron Dream

    Arnold’s Iron Dream: Concentrated Nighttime Recovery

    Finally, a MusclePharm product that uses a large dose of glycine in front of a proprietary blend where it actually makes sense!

    The good news is that there’s a lot of ingredients to be excited about:

    1. L-Glycine
    2. GABA
    3. 5-HTP
    4. Mucuna Pruriens (20% L-Dopa)
    5. Melatonin

    Holy Prop Blend…

    Arnold Iron Dream Ingredients

    That’s quite the prop blend.. but at least we know the first four ingredients are going to be solid for sleep

    The bad news is, all of that’s in a 3.555g proprietary blend, so we don’t know how much is in each one.

    Glycine is a cheap amino acid that’s often used to mask proprietary blends in various supplements. Usually, it’s annoying to see it up front in a supplement blend, but in this case, it’s actually a very well known sleep booster!

    Given how well Iron Dream has worked for us and so many others, it suffices to say that MusclePharm hit their doses decently well, and at a price most can afford.

    A “Lite” blend of ZMA’s ingredients inside

    Meanwhile, the most underrated inclusion might just be the 125mg of magnesium aspartate, which is the same form of magnesium used in ZMA supplements (ZMA uses 450mg of it though). As mentioned above, it’s notoriously difficult to flavor, so we’re happy to see any dose as long as the product still tastes great, which it does.

    While on the subject of ZMA, there’s also 30mg of zinc from zinc from zinc aspartate, and 10.5mg of Vitamin B6 from Pyridoxine Hydrochloride) — the same two ingredients and doses used in “official” ZMA preparations. So basically, you’re getting “ZMA lite” built in here… where the ‘M’ is the one on the light side. Better than most!

    With that said, we really don’t like not knowing how much melatonin we’re getting. It’s at the end of the blend, so it’s likely small… but how small (or large)?

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  10. 10. Nutrabolics Hemotropin 2XC

    Nutrabolics Hemotropin 2XC

    Marketed as a GH Support Matrix, Hemotropin 2XC has some great sleep herbs too. But in what dose?

    We absolutely love the ingredients in this formula — it uses a few herbals that we haven’t yet discussed, especially the lemon balm extract (melissa leaves).

    On top of that, you have another “diluted ZMA” in that you get 100mg of sleep-inducing Magnesium from aspartate (instead of ZMA’s 450mg), 6mg zinc (instead of 30mg), and a full 10.5mg of Vitamin B6 for dream support. That’s not too bad given that this entire serving is 2 capsules and true ZMA itself is usually 3 large caps!

    The issue is that this has a ridiculous proprietary blend, with a ton of free form amino acids thrown in front of the GABA, Lemon Balm, and L-Theanine. So we have no clue about what we’re getting — and it’s quite expensive to boot.

    This is the one product here we haven’t tried, but like the possibilities that the label brings. It could work well, but at that price… it’s not worth the risk – especially with that proprietary blend.

    Sign up for price drops on this one.

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[This marks the end of the all-in-one product section. Below, you can continue reading about individual ingredients]

Stop! This marks the end of your selection section!

Best Sleep Aid Ingredients

One more question:

Basically, this question is to separate the ‘naturalists’ from the ‘supplement junkies’ – you all know who you are!

What’s the difference?

  • Herbs are more natural, but may also have additional “constituents”. You’re not always sure how well the product is extracted/standardized for the compounds that actually work. One brand’s product may be far different from another’s.
  • Supplement compounds give you exactly what you want, but sometimes they lack the full spectrum support of an herb. These are more pure, and although they’re found in nature, they’re frequently synthesized in a clean lab.

We encourage you to read both of these sections, but for the sake of getting you to where you want to be, pick the path where you’re most comfortable.

No choice is “better” — the truth is that the best mixes often come from a well-formulated combination of both of these, listed in the products up above.

Single-Chemical Sleep Supplements

Note the differences in some of these ingredients’ effects:

  • Some induce sleep
  • Some improve sleep quality

Chances are, you’re looking for one over the other (or both), but not all ingredients do both things.

  1. 1. Melatonin

    No list can begin without melatonin, so we’ll start here.

    Melatonin is a hormone you produce naturally during light cycles – when you supplement it, it helps normalize abnormal sleep patterns.

    Several double-blinded studies have noted its effectiveness at treating insomnia.[3,4,5]

    Serotonin Melatonin

    The natural melatonin process. Aralkylamine N-acetyltransferase is involved in the in the day/night rhythm and production of melatonin. It does this via serotonin. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

    This is an ingredient that both helps induce sleep and initiate the sleep cycle as well as improves the quality of sleep, as established in the studies cited above and below.

    What Melatonin Dosage? Depends on you

    The biggest question for most people with sleeping issues is how much melatonin to take. Studies have been successful at 0.5mg[6,7] all the way up to 10mg.[7]

    Melatonin Benefits

    Melatonin supplementation improves QOS (quality of sleep) and has a relatively high response rate, even at 2mg.[5]

    However, the effects are NOT dose-dependent: more is not always better. So it’s up to you to start light and find your sweet spot. Some of the best studies show 2-3mg to be the sweet spot[8,9], which is why 3mg is the most common dose you’ll see in supplements.

    While high doses do not seem to be any more effective than lower ones, the good news is that there is no tolerance build-up for melatonin[10], so once you find a sweet spot, you should not keep adding more.

    That same study shows that long-term use (one year) did not cause any adverse events or side effects.

    Since it helps normalize sleep patterns, it’s a great preventer of jet-lag for most (but not all) individuals.[8,11,12]

    Even quite high doses are safe, too. Up in the sleep products section, we have one product (Magnum’s G-Spring) that has 20mg of melatonin, which sounds like a lot, until you realize that one safety study was fine after 300mg was supplemented![13] So if 3mg isn’t getting the job, you can consider more.

    What brand?

    Choose the one you trust. We’re big fans of brands like Optimum Nutrition, NOW Foods, and Jarrow Formulas.

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  2. 2. ZMA

    NutraBio ZMA

    We trust NutraBio due to their near-insane approach to quality manufacturing practices.

    ZMA is a trademarked formula of Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin B6.

    The original ZMA formula is composed of zinc monomethionine and aspartate (30 mg), magnesium aspartate (450 mg), and vitamin B6 as pyridoxine hydrochloride (10.5 mg).

    Despite it being just three seemingly simple ingredients, the long story short is that improved sleep quality is an extremely frequent anecdotal effect. Users (including your writer) report far more vivid dreams and REM sleep, too.

    Although none of this has been verified by research on actual ZMA supplements, it begins to ring true after looking at the studies on the individual ingredients (magnesium especially). With so many reviewer claims to back up the research we’re about to show, it’s definitely worth trying.

    Magnesium

    From a single-ingredient standpoint, it’s the magnesium that’s probably doing the most heavy lifting in terms of sleep quality. The primary concern is that dietary magnesium levels are far too low in America[14] (some estimates as much as 50%), and it alone may cause improvements when taken before bed.

    ZMA Ingredients

    A standard ZMA ingredient Label

    The two studies behind magnesium improving sleep quality were both for older users over the age of 50,[15,16] but given the deficiency statistics across the board, it seems to make sense that it could improve sleep for nearly everyone.

    Further, a study on younger females (18-20 years old) showed that the individuals with the lowest magnesium intake had the most delayed “midpoint” of sleep.[17] On the other side of the coin, higher stress levels and less sleep leads to less intracellular magnesium[18], so there’s definitely a greater need for supplementation if sleep habits are already poor.

    Vivid dreams likely from the B6

    No such studies can be found regarding zinc and sleep, but the vivid dreams are likely actually coming from the Vitamin B6, as reported in two different studies.[19,20] These are self-reported studies and impossible to verify, but it adds up. Whether this means an improvement in quality of sleep is another argument altogether, but the magnesium takes care of that part of the equation anyway.

    What dose?

    The official ZMA products come in ratios of the original listed above (30mg zinc monomethionine and aspartate, 450mg magnesium aspartate, and 10.5mg vitamin B6 as pyridoxine hydrochloride).

    Some other sleep products may tinker with the ingredients (but then they cannot call it “ZMA”). The official doses you’ll see here from brands such as NutraBio, NOW Foods, or Optimum Nutrition are the best place to start.

    You will almost never see these specific ingredients in a powdered flavored supplement due to their most noxious flavors – so you’re looking at taking capsules before bed with the official stuff.

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    ZMA is a trademark of SNAC System, Inc.

  3. 3. Glycine

    L-Glycine is an interesting amino acid: it’s both an amino and a neurotransmitter, and it can assist in both stimulatory and depressant processes.

    L-Glycine

    What’s awesome about L-Glycine is that it makes users feel significantly better the next day!

    Glycine can both improve sleep quality and help one fall asleep faster, but the best part of it all is that it helps its users feel better the day after.

    There are three studies showing glycine’s effectiveness for sleep:

    1. A placebo-controlled pilot study had women use 3g glycine before bedtime for four days, and they self-reported better quality and less fatigue afterward.[21]

      They rated things such as “fatigue”, “liveliness and peppiness”, and “clear-headedness”, and the key takeaway was that they felt better after awakening from sleep.

    2. The next study was double-blinded and included men as well as women. Again, they took 3g before bed and reported a lessened feeling of daytime sleepiness and also improved cognitive performance in memory recognition tasks![22]

      There was no overall change in their REM sleep or sleep patterns, although they fell asleep quicker and reached their deep sleep faster.

    3. Finally, a study on sleep-deprived men taking 3g also self-reported better rest, but the effect only lasted one to three days.[23]

    So the biggest question is whether or not glycine can work for an extended period of use, or if it’s just great for feeling good for short durations of usage.

    Either way, it’s cheap so it’s definitely worth considering, especially before major athletic events or important days (always test things like this out before practice, though!)

    Glycine Dosage

    3g powder before bed is the standard go-to, as it was used in all studies. This is an extremely safe amount.

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  4. 4. GABA

    GABA, or Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, is the famous “downer” neurotransmitter that induces an interesting depressive effect that allows users to fall asleep faster.

    There is no doubt that GABA (the naturally occurring neurotransmitter already inside your brain) and its receptors are implicated in various sleep mechanisms, from REM to dreaming to waking up.[24,25]

    But what about supplementation?

    GABA Production

    The natural production / degradation of GABA. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

    When it comes to actual supplemental GABA (which is what we’re interested in here), it’s been shown to increase alpha waves and decrease beta waves.[26] This is a good thing – alpha waves are the deep relaxation waves, while beta waves are the waking consciousness and reasoning waves.

    The study cited above concluded that GABA could work effectively as a natural relaxant and its effects could be seen within one hour of its administration.

    Another study showed this same effect on both males and females even after taking just 100mg of GABA![27]

    Another double-blinded, placebo-controlled study utilized both GABA and 5-HTP, so its effects may be confounded, but the subjects were able to fall asleep in 19.1 minutes instead of the standard 32.3 minutes, and other parameters were improved.[28]

    It’s also been proposed that GABA may provide for some pain relief, which could have great implications for some of our readers.[29] Note, however, that this warrants much more research.

    GABA Dosage?

    There’s not a whole lot of standards when it comes to GABA dosing – this is why we like it in powder form, so that you can use it to adjust to your liking. Anywhere from 500mg to 2g seems to work best, however, even lower doses have shown to alter sleep patterns a little. So it’s recommended to start in the 500mg-1g range.

    It’s not recommended to exceed 2g in a day – it could induce too much of a depressive effect, which almost nobody wants!

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  5. 5. L-Theanine

    One of the most popular and rapidly-growing relaxation supplements, L-Theanine has found its way into more and more supplements as our society has become more and more stimmed out.

    L-Theanine Tea

    L-Theanine comes from tea leaves, and when you remove the caffeine from the situation, you get a great soothing effect for before bedtime.

    L-Theanine is commonly found in tea leaves (Camellia sinensis), and when paired with caffeine, it has great synergistic focus-boosting properties. It helps “take the edge off” of harsher, higher dose caffeine-based supplements.

    However, when L-theanine extract is taken alone, it induces an incredible calming sensation[30,31] – the best word to describe it is “relaxing”.

    Users have anecdotally reported that this helps them both fall asleep faster, the science shows that it “shouldn’t” necessarily do this, since it’s purportedly a non-sedative.

    There is research, however, showing a higher quality of sleep with L-theanine, at least in boys with ADHD.[32] Note, however, that they used a larger dose (400mg) than we typically recommend for starters.

    L-Theanine Dosage

    The ‘standard’ L-Theanine dose is 200mg, but this is honestly too relaxing for your writer here. We like to start at 100mg and assess from there. You can move up if you like, and as discussed above, 400mg was safely tolerated (but we’d honestly never use that much).

    Our general anecdotal impression is that when taken alone in the evening, L-Theanine at 125mg or greater makes us feel like a “chilled out surfer bro”, if that’s any help. Some love that feeling – especially before bed!

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  6. 6. L-Dopa

    L-DOPA Dopamine

    L-DOPA first raises plasma L-DOPA levels… and then comes the dopamine burst![128]

    L-Dopa is found in high amounts in Mucuna Pruriens (which we talk about on the herbal side of this document). It’s a precursor to dopamine, and taking it can boost your dopamine levels.

    Unfortunately, much of the evidence is anecdotal and circumstantial – there isn’t much research on healthy individuals for L-Dopa and sleep. For instance, it has the ability to reduce teeth grinding (bruxism).[33]

    L-Dopa is commonly known for its ability to increase growth hormone release[34,35,36], which is higher during periods of sleep, so there may be some kind of correlation there. In addition, there was a slight decrease in cortisol in one of the above studies.[35]

    On the other hand, if taken during the day, 200mg may excite some users, but may sedate others,[37] so there seems to be some personalization to its use.

    Most research is done on various brain disorders, which has mixed results and is tough to analyze. For instance, subjects with Parkinson’s definitely had diminished sleep quality with L-Dopa, but those with restless leg syndrome had improved sleep quality.[38,39]

    L-Dopa Dosage

    125mg to 250mg seems to be the ideal area for sleep, cortisol control, and GH release. Interestingly, when larger doses such as 800mg are taken, penile girth is increased in men, so there’s always that![40]

    Where to buy pure L-Dopa

    Unfortunately, none of the several stores on PricePlow have a mucuna pruriens supplement that’s been extracted for 98% or higher L-Dopa. Not even on Amazon! So below is a link where you can try to get it:

    Click here to see 98% L-Dopa from Powder City
  7. 7. 5-HTP

    This serotonin precursor (also known as 5-hydroxytryptophan) is most commonly used to provide euphoria. It is naturally-occurring (coming from tryptophan, another ingredient discussed below), and then converts to serotonin. This is shown in the image below:

    Tryptophan to 5-HTP to Serotonin

    The Tryptophan to 5-HTP to Serotonin conversion. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

    Despite the euphoria, some users may experience positive sleep benefits from it. Unfortunately, there are no standalone studies regarding sleep and 5-HTP. Instead, the research is more circumstantial, where we see it improving sleep quality and time to fall asleep when taken alongside GABA and Valerian.[41] However, those are two supplements that we’re confident already improve sleep quality.

    Meanwhile, it was able to significantly reduce sleep terrors in children, and continued to work even after the children were taken off of it, so there’s likely some kind of connection with sleep that requires more research.[42]

    To further help its case, 200mg of 5-HTP has been shown to reduce panic attacks that were induced by doctors in multiple ways.[43,44]

    5-HTP Dosage

    The sleep terror study used 2mg per kg of bodyweight, which is actually a nice dose to start at. A max of 300mg/day seems to be a good safety threshold, as discussed in the next paragraph.

    This is a supplement that requires some care and caution — anything that boosts serotonin levels brings with it the capability of causing harm if overused or abused, although serotonin syndrome has not yet been identified with standard short-term doses of 5-HTP (at around 300mg/day or so).

    At the end of the day, this might work best for sleep in our more “unhappy” readers.

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  8. 8. Tryptophan

    Tryptophan Metabolism

    The FULL Tryptophan Metabolism chain, which includes 5-HTP above. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

    This famous essential amino acid has effects that we consider to be “overstated” by the media every Thanksgiving, but it does have some effects.

    It works by converting to serotonin, which is further metabolized into melatonin downstream.[45] So this reaction may be acting like a form of “time-released melatonin”.

    Further, the boost of serotonin may have mood-enhancing benefits, which may help some users whose stress or unhappiness is keeping them up at night. A study showed that when depleting the brain of tryptophan, serotonin levels go down, bringing mood down with it.[46] So it’s a great idea to avoid this situation by keeping tryptophan levels regular.

    500mg is a good starting point for the dosage, 30 minutes before bed.

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    It’s the carbs — not the turkey!

    One note about all of that turkey talk around Thanksgiving: we believe that tryptophan’s effects have been much overstated by the media, since it’s been shown that high carbohydrate meals (especially before bed) are what boost tryptophan levels even without the chicken or turkey.[47,48,49]

    Knowing that, some users may benefit from moving their carbohydrates towards bedtime, but this isn’t typically recommended, since it requires a lot of dietary management in order to prevent fat gain.

  9. 9. Alpha GPC or CDP-Choline?

    These brain-enhancing ingredients are shots in the dark, for when nothing else has worked.

    Alpha GPC and CDP-Choline (also known as citicoline) are two of the most popular nootropics, or cognitive brain enhancers. They help your brain create more acetylcholine, which is known as the “learning neurotransmitter”. Generally, they boost focus.

    Citicoline to Choline

    We’re most interested in the acetylcholine connection here. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

    But sometimes, users report feeling very sleepy after taking moderate to high doses of these supplements – especially if their diet is already high in choline.

    Some slightly relevant research

    There’s no direct research showing that taking either of these supplements may induce or improve sleep, but there are some connections to sleep worth noting:

    1. Patients with sleep apnea have been shown to have reduced acetylcholine levels in their frontal cortex[50]
    2. Another study showed that choline acetyltransferase messenger levels were low during wakefulness, intermediate in slow-wave sleep, and high during rapid eye movement sleep.[51]
    3. Further, cholinergic neurons are involved in REM sleep.[52]

    So is it possible that boosting your choline levels may give your brain what it needs? Maybe. If you’ve tried everything, and nothing is working, it’s worth a shot.

    And if you don’t see results, all is not lost – try the choline supplements before study, work, or working out, where they really shine.

    Choline / Alpha-GPC Dosage

    The standard dosage is 250mg of either of these. 500mg is when the focus improvements get really interesting.

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  10. 10. Galantamine

    Similar to the above ideas, galantamine is also a nootropic ingredient that is typically taken to boost focus and improve memory.

    When it comes to the research, it’s important to note that almost everything has been centered around subjects with severe degenerative brain disorders — not healthy individuals — so we can’t always draw perfect conclusions.

    Galantamine

    Similar to the choline section above, some users report sleep on top of the brain-boosting effects of galantamine

    With that said, galantamine outperformed a prescription drug in every measure studied, and showed no side effects.[53] Interestingly, the caregivers were also studied, and the results were the same, so this may actually bode well for healthy individuals!

    Another study performed on patients over the course of six months showed marked improvements in nearly all parameters just eight weeks into the study.[54]

    Both of the studies cited above had large populations – 63 and 75 patients, respectively.

    Galantamine Dosage

    Galantamine typically comes in 8mg doses, and that is the best place to start. However, the second study cited above safely used 16mg or 24mg.

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  11. What about Phenibut for sleep?

    Phenibut comes as a last bonus item here, but extreme care must be taken: it is seriously addictive and is dangerous when used frequently. Do not underestimate this stuff!

    Phenibut

    Easy there, kids… phenibut is a prescription-strength pharmaceutical tranquilizer… and it’s horribly addictive!

    Phenibut was first discovered in the Soviet Union in the 1960s, and it is a prescription-based drug in Russia. It binds to the GABAB receptor (not the A receptor), making it similar but different to many of the other compounds and herbs listed on this page.

    It’s most frequently used to get a relaxed, but sharp feeling,[55] with a reduction in anxiety.[56] Many experience a supreme euphoria with it, while others get into the zone and use it for anything from sports to sales jobs to dating! And many of these users have reported sleeping like kings on it after its euphoric effects have worn off.

    It sounds great, until you run into the addiction problem.[57,58] As a GABAB agonist that crosses the blood-brain-barrier[59,60], it has a way of digging its claws into you in a very bad way.

    Because of this, if you were ever to try phenibut, never use it more than twice in a week, and never use it two days in a row!!!

    Phenibut Addiction

    This dude got so f’d up on phenibut that he had to go to an addiction clinic where they had to substitute baclofen while weening him off of the phenibut, and then ween him off of the baclofen.[57] This stuff is no joke, as this case study shows. You sure you want to risk it?

    Also don’t even bother trying this if you have anywhere near an addictive personality. You know who you are.

    It doesn’t take much Google searching to find nightmare stories of users who are having trouble getting off of Phenibut, to the point that it just doesn’t seem worth the risk for many of us.

    Phenibut dosage

    The starting dose is 250mg, as shown in the Latvian prescription translation.[61] That dose can be bumped up to 500mg-1000mg, but the higher you go, the worse you risk addiction and dependency. Any higher than that is beyond stupid, in our opinions.[62]

    Anecdotal reports state that it is best taken on an empty stomach, and it may actually take a while to kick in. Users don’t typically take it to fall asleep – they just frequently happen to sleep better after having used it during the day.

    Don’t even consider using it if you don’t have time to sleep at least eight or nine hours. Your brain needs all this time to recover after using it.

    On that note, mixing this with any more than one serving of alcohol could be the biggest mistake of your life. Don’t do it.

    Is Phenibut legal / DSHEA compliant?

    The FDA - Food and Drug Administration

    It’s our belief that the FDA is going to stomp on phenibut suppliers sooner than later

    Regarding legality, phenibut is in a “quasi-legal” status that we’ve seen in the supplement industry quite a bit lately. Although it’s technically an amino acid (as a gamma amino acid — it has an NH2 amino group and a COOH carboxylic acid group — and the amino group is four carbons from the carboxylic acid group), it does not seem to be fully DSHEA compliant, since it’s not a naturally-occurring.

    Despite the wording of the DSHEA[63], and how non-naturally-occurring compounds could possibly be legal, the FDA’s recent behavior seems to go against nearly everything introduced new to the market that isn’t naturally-occurring in reasonable doses.

    So it’s possible that it could be submitted and approved by the FDA (as an amino acid), but given the addiction issues that are so well documented, it’s highly unlikely they’d allow it to be marketed as a supplement for safety reasons anyway.

    For now, it could potentially be sold as an “over-the-counter drug”, but it definitely does not belong in any supplement or anything marketed as a “dietary supplement”, since it seems to violate DSHEA more than it abides.

    If anything, we can foresee the FDA cracking down on phenibut in the near future. You have been warned!

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…and that is the dramatic end of the chemical compound section. You can click HERE to go back to the product side, or simply keep reading to see our list of herbal ingredients!

[This marks the end of the single-chemical ingredient section. Below, you can continue reading about herbal ingredients]

Stop! This marks the end of your selection section!

Herbal Sleep Supplements

Welcome to the herbal sleep aids section — the following natural herbs and extracts all show great promise for hard-sleepers. However, many of them also work in similar ways (ie through the GABAA receptor), so it’s best to try just one at a time, unless otherwise noted.

Note the differences in some of these herbs’ effects:

  • Some induce sleep
  • Some improve sleep quality

Chances are, you’re looking for one over the other (or both), but not all ingredients do both things.

  1. 1. Lemon Balm

    Lemon Balm

    It looks like mint because it is part of the mint family. But when you crush these up… the effect is phenomenal

    Known as Melissa officinalis, Lemon Balm is by far the most underrated herbal sleep supplement in the industry. If you haven’t tried it and you’re reading this, it’s due time you gave it a chance.

    Lemon Balm both induces calmness[64,65], diminishes anxiety,[66,67] and may even improve cognition (but only when stressed).

    The issue is that there aren’t a ton of studies specifically related to sleep – the first one shows an improvement in falling asleep, but it was secondary to the study’s real measurement of stress reduction (both were successful, though).[66] The next best study was combined with valerian root[67], which is a great sleep supplement on its own. However, it seems that the effect was synergistic / additive.

    But anecdotally from your writer (and this is supported by various lemon balm supplement reviews)… lemon balm knocks us out quite hard. Given its low price, it’s definitely worth a shot.

    What’s the best lemon balm dosage?

    Lemon Balm Research

    Insomnia parameters before and after 15 days of lemon balm treatment.[66]

    Traditionally, lemon balm was popular in the form of tea, and you can try that for an easy start. However, you don’t know what dose you’re getting with tea, while supplements have consistently measurable doses in capsules, allowing for you to fine-tune the amount.

    The range that’s been studied successfully for calmness is 300mg-900mg[65,64], with the higher ~1g doses working better for most.

    1.5g of raw “Melissa leaves” have even shown antioxidant and DNA-protective effects with no mention of side effects. However, this larger dose is not from an extract – just raw leaves – so keep that in mind.

    Any dose over 1.5g is simply not qualified by any research, so it’s prudent to stay below that.

    Unfortunately, extract strength or standardizations is not discussed on many of these supplements. The main component seems to be rosmarinic acid,[69] but there are several others involved, such as caffeic acid and melitric acid.[70]

    We see this is the next major sleep ingredient and hope more research and more specific products are on the way, but even the raw leaves and tea work fantastically.

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  2. 2. Valerian

    No sleep guide would ever be complete without mentioning valerian root!

    Valerian

    Hugely popular, but seems to work selectively for some individuals. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

    The plant is officially named valeriana officinalis, and is also traditionally brewed in tea or simply eaten to relax and sedate.

    This is definitely a supplement for falling asleep, but interestingly, if you look at the research, one may start to think it’s overrated. Studies have only confirmed it to have a minor quantitative effect.[71,72,73,74]

    However, those who love valerian argue adamantly for it, so it’s possible that it’s a supplement that works very well for select populations, and just a little for others.

    In terms of sleep quality, two out of five studies measured and showed a noticeable improvement.[71,74] But one other trial doesn’t show improvement in quality.[75]

    So ultimately, it seems like a hit-or-miss kind of supplement, but when it hits, it hits big.

    What Valerian Dose?

    Valerian Research

    Valerian outperformed placebo in ill patients (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index Overall Score, AUC), but not by as much as some would have hoped for.[71]

    450mg is the standard nighttime dose, but taken one hour before bedtime. It’s usually standardized to have roughly 1% valerenic acid.[76]

    If trying to have daytime sedation, go with lower doses of 150mg-300mg (with meals).

    Beware too large of a dose!

    Those who do not feel it at 450mg should not take much more. Hangover effects can definitely be felt in individuals who take higher doses (such as 750mg or higher).[77]

    The hangover effect, however, is not typically reported at the standard 450mg.

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  3. 3. Lavender Oil / Aromatherapy

    Lavender is actually an entire family of plants, and its use as an essential oil / aromatherapy induces a calming effect in practically every study performed.

    Lavender

    Nearly intoxicating!

    There’s a fair bit of science to support its use. Let’s take a look at the benefits:

    • It increases feelings of relaxation when “inhaled” via aromatherapy.[78,79,80]

      But most importantly from that first study, it actually showed physiological changes – brain wave functions also matched what the users reported!

    • The first study cited above also showed it having sedative properties.[78]

    • Further physical changes shown: a lowering of heart rate![78,81] The first study also showed lowered blood pressure.

    • Decreased anxiety in a few other studies not yet cited.[82,79,83,84,85]

      Note that we couldn’t find a study that couldn’t measure a decrease in anxiety when it was measured.

    Interesting to note that two of these studies were done in dental offices,[79,84] notoriously known for being stressful environments for patients (despite how awesome it feels to have your teeth cleaned!)

    Lavender Oil Aromatherapy

    Lavender Oil Aromatherapy is the way to go

    Lavender works by showing a liking for the GABA receptor, which is the “downer” neurotransmitter. In the supplement single-ingredient/compound section of this page, GABA is listed as another great sleep aid.

    This is also how Lemon Balm works, so the two may have some serious synergy since they work similarly[86] but are used differently.

    So while this isn’t a supplement like many of our other suggestions, but it works so well, it’s got to be mentioned.

    It’s possible that topical application may also provide benefits[87], but it’s tough to determine whether the effects are from inhalation or from actual absorption.

    How to take it

    As a supplement, ~100mg is a good starting point. However, we’re more into the aromatherapy method, which is a personal preference. Needless to say, if you can smell it, you’re likely getting the benefits, so don’t use too much at once. You can always add more.

    You can also get a lavender oil massage to calm you down after a rough week of work.

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  4. 4. Hops Extract

    You know how beer is brewed from hops, right?

    Well, it turns out that this flowering plant (which is a relative of cannabis[88]) is also a sedative and sleep agent!

    Hops

    Often seen in beer commercials… hops extract has a ton of sleep-enhancing properties!

    It’s officially named Humulus lupulus L. (Cannabinaceae), and there’s actually a lot of research on its profile, but nobody really talks about it when it comes to the best sleep aids!

    Perhaps one reason is because most sleep research has been performed on a valerian-hops combination, which confounds what we’re looking for here since we already know that valerian works for sleep. We’ll get back to that research in a second, but first, let’s look at an interesting hops-only study.

    The study used non-alcoholic beer to determine how hops affected a group of 17 female nurses. They drank it with supper for 14 days, and it turns out, the hops improved sleep quality in the most important parameters![89]

    Lots of research combined with valerian

    The bad news is that this is all we have on hops alone, but back to the studies combined with valerian, there are several, including one performed on 184 adults[90] that used 187mg valerian and 41.9mg hops (the standardizations are also shown, which is nice), and it worked as well as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), if not better.

    Hops Flowers

    “Traditionally used for nervousness and irritability”

    Valerian/hops was also compared to a benzodiazepine solution, and performed incredibly well, while the benzos had the obvious side effects and withdrawal whereas that was not mentioned with the hops.[91]

    In a two-night sleep study, compared to placebo, the valerian/hops group spent a greater amount of time asleep, and more time in deep sleep.[92]

    Sleep disorder patients were similarly improved in a four week study,[93] as well as another one[94] and another one.[95]

    Get the point yet? Because this is such a great combination, we decided to bump hops up the list here!

    How’s it work? Once again… through modulation of the brain’s GABAA receptors![96,97, 98]

    When it comes to mice-based studies, it even works as an essential oil[99] and put them to sleep for a solid eight hours[100]… but we’re not sure if that’d stink your house up a bit too much like beer!

    Even Quail (whose sleep cycles are similar to humans) love hops![101]

    Hops Dosage

    It always depends on the standardization, but ~40mg hops was cited in the study that shares the most information.[90]

    However, one of our favorite sleep supplements (in the products section) uses 150mg per capsule (with two-capsule servings), and other products come in 310mg serving sizes, so it’s likely that many have tried far greater doses.

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  5. 5. Chamomile

    Another popular herb: when chamomile leaves are created into supplements (using a basic aqueous extract), they’ve shown promise in everything from calming nerves and reducing anxiety to treating nightmares and other sleep problems![102,103]

    Chamomile Supplement

    Chamomile supplements come in raw flower types (like the one shown above) or a standardized extract for more potency

    It’s normally taken as a tea, and has been successful at that. In one study where researchers were measuring cardiovascular changes, ten of the twelve subjects quickly fell into deep sleep after drinking it[104] – but that study wasn’t fully controlled.

    Chamomile tea is extremely easy to find, but the one issue is that tea might cause you to wake up and urinate if you drink them before bed. Avoiding that issue is one benefit that supplemental chamomile has over tea.

    The most involved study was double-blinded, placebo-controlled, and had 34 patients between 18-65 years old who were diagnosed with insomnia for at least six months. They took 270mg chamomile (or placebo) daily for 28 days. The good news is that the subjects receiving chamomile had moderate effects in the time it took to fall asleep and the number of times they woke up.[105] The bad news is that the changes did not reach statistical significance, so the effect is likely a light one.

    Research in mice shows that the effect is mostly “hypnotic”, and works like certain prescription drugs (albeit naturally).[106]

    Other similar research shows anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties.[107]

    Overall, the effects seem to be moderate, but if you’re looking for something natural to just “take the edge off”, chamomile is a nice, light way to start – and you just might have some tea in your pantry that you forgot about.

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  6. 6. Magnolia Bark

    Officially known as magnolia officinalis, magnolia bark comes to us from traditional Chinese medicine, where it was used for its neuroprotective and relaxing effects.

    The main components are two compounds known as Honokiol and Magnolol.

    Magnolia Oil Aromatherapy

    Everyone talks about lavender oil aromatherapy, but why not try magnolia oil?

    Like many of the above ingredients (Lemon Balm, Valerian, Chamomile, Hops), Magnolia provides its anti-anxiety effect via the GABAA receptors.[108]

    Quite low doses were able to enhance sleep in mice, and worked in a “pentobarbital” fashion (ie, like a short-acting barbiturate).[109] This was first noted by modern scientists in 1982[110], but clearly has a deeper historical use than that.

    The good news for some, but bad news for others, is that when studies were performed in a setting where researchers did not want the subjects to fall asleep – the subjects didn’t.[108] This means that the effect is more of an anxiolytic one than a sedative one.

    Magnolia Dose: It’s about the Honokiol and Magnolol!

    That’s about as far as the research currently goes. However, magnolia supplements at around 400mg (at around 2% honokiol, yielding 8mg honokiol) rate very well.

    There are also some supplements that have a far higher honokiol + magnolol (such as 95% between the two of them) which requires far less dose. Start lighter than what is recommended and slowly move up. These are reported to work very effectively, yet without the addiction!

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  7. 7. Passion Flower

    Passion Flower

    One amazing looking flower. Courtesy Wikimedia

    Also known as Passiflora Incarnata, passionflower has successful studies behind it with regards sleep quality from low doses of tea.[111]

    The above study cited calls it an “herbal sedative, anxiolytic, and a popular sleep aid used for the treatment of sleep disturbance”. While the research was self-reported by 41 participants, those who received passion flower instead of placebo scored significantly better on six different sleep measures.

    What we love about this study is that it was double-blinded, placebo-controlled, and was a crossover study – it was repeated so that those that received placebo received the passionflower the next time, and there was a one week “washout” as well.

    Like several other supplements in this section, the active compounds have an affinity for the GABAA receptors in the brain, but GABAB is also selected with passionflower[112], so it may actually work for more people than the others. Also like the others, it has anxiolytic activity[113,114,115] but shouldn’t compromise motor activity,[114] although some users report that it feels like it does.

    Passion Flower

    Passiflora Incarnata!

    In mice, an aqueous extract (such as one you’d receive in a supplement) had sedative properties – the mice on passionflower didn’t want to climb as many steps in a test, and were able to fall asleep faster.[116]

    The most common use of this type of tea is with those who have frequent sleep disturbance – ie, several small wake-up periods. If that sounds like you, passion flower tea might be a good idea. Just make sure you hit the restroom before going down!

    Passion Flower supplements are generally very cheap – cheaper than most others on this site – so the mild action could be a great starting point for those who wake up a bit too frequently.

    However, the best study in terms of sleep was with tea, so consider drinking it before bed.

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  8. 8. Bacopa Monnieri

    Bacopa is a cognitive enhancing herb that may improve memory formation on top of its anti-anxiety properties.

    Bacopa Monnieri

    Bacopa Monnieri has been coming on strong as a relaxing brain booster, which it’s great at. But in terms of sleep, it’s a bit of a shot in the dark. Image courtesy Wikimedia

    It’s primarily used for its cognitive benefits,[117,118, 119,120] it also seems to reduce rises in anxiety (although it might not actually reduce it).[118,121]

    The issue is that there are no studies actually related to sleep, despite the ones showing anxiolytic effects. However, there’s been a lot of anecdotal reports that it sometimes makes users sleepy.

    It’s postulated that the bacosides from bacopa are involved in the serotonin systems, and it may reduce the amount of norepinephrine released, which can make you feel more tired. These reviews seem to happen when users take it over the course of time – you might not have immediate effects.

    On the other end of the coin, some users report having trouble staying asleep with this. The best demographic to try this are those who are chronically anxious.

    Bacopa Dosage

    The standard Bacopa monnieri dose is 300mg. However, it all depends on the bacoside percentage, since that is the active compound.

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  9. 9. Mucuna Pruriens

    Mucuna Pruriens

    Mucuna Pruriens is popular for its growth hormone boosting properties. But can it help you sleep? Courtesy Wikimedia

    For one of our final “safe” sleep agents, we discuss mucuna pruriens, which is also known as velvet bean.

    Many of mucuna’s users actually use it for the growth hormone boosting properties of its primary constituent, L-Dopa. However, when taking a mucuna supplement that has a “broader” spectrum — ie. standardized to 50% L-Dopa, users have anecdotally reported better sleep too!

    With all that said, there’s not much research to back these stories up. Some circumstantial evidence shows that L-Dopa reduces bruxism (when you grind your teeth).[33] So if that’s an issue that’s affecting your sleep (not to mention your gum, bone, and brain health), consider mucuna or L-Dopa.

    On top of that, L-Dopa has been shown to reduce cortisol levels.[35]

    On the other hand, if taken during the day, 200mg may excite some users, but may sedate others,[37] so there seems to be some personalization to its use.

    It’s worth trying, especially if you’re an athlete looking for a bit of a recovery boost from the potentially improved GH levels.

    Mucuna Pruriens Dosage

    250mg-500mg before bed should do. We’re typically looking for 20-50% L-Dopa when it comes to sleep – it might be the other compounds in mucuna outside of the L-Dopa that bring the benefits.

    Mucuna Pruriens

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  10. 10. What about Marijuana?

    Of course someone’s going to ask about cannabis, likely even do a Ctrl-F and search for it.

    The first thing we have to note is the legality. Don’t break laws, wherever you live.

    But for some of you, it is legal, so is it an option? The answer is yes — but it’s obviously not for everyone, and the sporadic research backs that up.

    The caveat of cannabis

    It’s very very difficult to arrive at a science-backed decision on pot use. On this site, we like to talk about supplements, open ingredient formulas, and compound standardizations. Put simply, we like to know exactly what we’re ingesting.

    Unfortunately, with cannabis, there are currently no quality standardizations. Even within a certain strain of weed, there is a lot of variance. This makes it extremely difficult to get consistent results, and the scientific and medical communities as a whole won’t take it as seriously until that problem is remedied.

    Know your strains – you want indica

    Indica vs. Sativa

    Don’t go smoking the ‘uppity’ stuff and think you’re going to automatically sleep well!

    The next thing to state is that you need to get the appropriate strain for your needs. You do not want an “uppity”, “creative” genus of cannabis. That is cannabis sativa – and that’s not for readers of this page.

    In the case of sleep, what you want is cannabis indica, which is more relaxing and calming.[122] This is the kind that will melt you into the couch more, so to speak. Interestingly, the original citation about this was made as far back as 1785.[123]

    In terms of sleep studies, given the problems outlined above, it’s not surprising that most of them are pretty weak, scientifically. They’re also frequently biased by both sides of the pot lobby.

    The results are mixed, but are actually mostly negative:

    1. A meta-analysis of 39 publications overall found mixed results with varying effects on sleep.[124] Although sleep duration was roughly the same, many individuals with diseases did have fewer sleep disturbances.
    2. Another meta-analysis showed that most users experience decreased slow-wave sleep (deep sleep), as well as a decrease in REM sleep.[125] The pattern gets worse for users who chronically use marijuana.
    3. Multiple sclerosis patients had improved sleep parameters from pure THC or cannabis extracts over a 15 week period.[126]
    4. Healthy volunteers using either 5mg or 15mg a THC nasal spray, THC + CBD spray, or placebo showed that wakefulness was increased in the higher THC + CBD dose, while the THC strain had no effect.[127]

      Point being, CBD seems to be the more ‘alert’ compound, whereas THC is not, so if you have a way of selecting, you’ll want a lower CBD strain.

    Marijuana Sleep

    Despite what this guy (and his brethren) want you to think, marijuana is not a cure-all for everything – sleep included. But it may help certain individuals with certain diseases.

    Obviously, it’s very difficult to placebo control a study here. But worse, we really don’t have enough information as to what strains were used during this research – if the ineffective studies were using sativa strains… it makes the whole study a moot point because insomniacs don’t typically want sativa!

    So, in general, if you’re a typical person who can’t sleep, marijuana doesn’t seem to be the cure-all that so many potheads like to preach. It does, however, show a ton of promise for certain groups of sick individuals.

    If it’s legal where you live, go to a reputable dispensary and ask for something mild to help you sleep. You might enjoy it, but don’t expect miracles.

Fīnis!

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