What are the best sleep aids, and should you take them?Jump To The Best
Insomnia and poor sleep quality are relatively common with 11% of adults in the US reporting chronic poor sleep at any given time and 70% of the population expected to have poor sleep at some point in their life. There are numerous reasons this can happen ranging from stress through to diet, so it's not surprising that sleep aids are sought out on a regular basis.
That said prescription sleep aids can have a lot of issues. As a result over the counter sleep aids or the natural alternative seem quite attractive. The question is of course whether or not they're all they claim to be.OTC Sleep Aids can realistically be bundled into one of 2 categories, the repurposed antihistamines and the natural sleep aids. The former simply induce drowsiness, which isn't a bad short term fix, but isn't the healthiest option when compared to natural sleep aids of which some are actually pretty effective.
Over the counter sleep aids are safe, for dietary supplements to be sold they do have to meet certain good manufacturing guidelines even if they are not directly FDA regulated. That said, there are some interactions of melatonin and people who suffer with high blood pressure should consult their doctor before taking supplements with melatonin in them.
Sleep aids can help with Jet Lag as artificially raising you melatonin levels can trick your body into resetting its circadian rhythm and bypassing your regular sleep schedule.
Practicing good sleep hygiene, this is quite a broad term, but it includes reducing blue light in the evening, exercising regularly, sticking to a regular sleep schedule, not consuming too much caffeine or drinking too many liquids before sleep. It is also ideal to reduce stress although we are aware of the irony that poor sleep in and of itself can cause stress. Whilst we can supplement for vitamins and minerals eating right is a good way to improve sleep. Particularly getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs to product common sleep aid ingredients like GABA and Melatonin. A couple of common examples are Magnesium and Calcium, which almost 80% of American's don't meet their daily requirements of at least one of these minerals that your body requires to produce the hormones for sleep making them good options for natural sleep aids.
The Most Commonly Asked Questions About Natural Sleep Supplements
We rated RestAgain the number one sleeping supplement, but if we're looking for one specific ingredient, the most effective ingredient available over the counter in the US is melatonin. It is however, restricted in some countries.
Generally speaking natural sleeping aids are safe, of course there are always allergens and conditions to consider and if you have any reason to be unsure you should always consult with your doctor. All of the supplements on our list are produced in the US under GCMP guidelines and should be as safe as possible.
The best sleep aids we've come across so far are made by RestAgain seeing as they functionally combine most of the ingredients from the best natural sleep aids into one pill.
The OTC sleep aids contain Melatonin, Valerian Root, Magnesium, B6, B12, Vitamin D, L Theanine, Calcium, Ashwagandha, 5HTP and GABA meaning it's about as comprehensive of a sleep supplement as anybody could realistically make seeing as it's hit pretty much everything that made our best individual sleep supplement list.
Despite being a little bit more costly than some of the other sleep aids on the list, RestAgain is actually suprisingly good value considering it has substantially more active ingredients than anything else in it's price bracket especially if you get one of the bulk deals.
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10mg Melatonin - Melatonin has been tested to be an effective natural sleep aid at doses from 3-10mg with it being deemed to be far less habit forming than the antihistamine alternatives available over the counter. It's your bodies natural chemical that tells your brain it's time to go to sleep and supplementing it is well tolerated. The full 10mg dose may be a little high for someone who hasn't tried it before, so we'd recommend taking 2 capsules rather than the full 3 capsule dose on your first try, but it's a great start for any sleep supplement. It's even perscribed in a lot of cases.
GABA 300mg - This is the ideal dosage range for GABA, it is required for your body to produce it's own melatonin amplifying the effect of supplementing it directly, but it does also work as a stand alone sleeping supplement.
Vitamin Blend B6, B12, D - RestAgain contains 3 commonly deficient essential vitamins for sleep. They've included them in or around the 100% RDI meaning that if any of these deficiencies are what's causing restless sleep then they'll be covered off and with almost 60% of the US population having a deficiency in at least one of these it's a good inclusion.
Valerian Root 300mg - Perhaps the least studied of the ingredients in the natural sleeping pill, Valerian Root does have enough studies to warrant a meta analysis and does seem to be effective at helping people fall asleep quickly. It seems to be most effective in a dose of 300mg, which is correct here. Most sleep supplements under dose this ingredient so that's another reason we like RestAgain.
Calcium and Magnesium - Similar to the vitamins, these are both eseential for your body to be able to produce sleep hormones and are very common as deficiencies, Magnesium in particular has been used to great effect and in some countries it's a perscription option.
Ashwagandha 300mg - Ashwagandha has a double benefit when it comes to sleep, not only has it been shown to work as a natural sleeping aid by helping you get to sleep quicker, but it actually lowers cortisol (the stress hormone) combatting one of the leading reasons of disturbed sleep. 300mg is within the recommended dosages.
5HTP 100mg - 5HTP is a precursor to seratonin production and supplementing it has been shown to help people get better sleep quality and remain undisturbed longer, however it usually takes a few weeks to start working.
L Theanine 250mg - L Theanine is an amino acid that is essential for your body to get a good nights sleep, it's been shown to be an effective sleep aid between the doses of 250mg and 500mg. So once again a good inclusion.
As a result that means that RestAgain pretty much get's all the dosages in their natural sleeping pills right, which makes it quite easy to see why they got our number 1 spot.
The existing customer reviews of RestAgain sleep support are second to none and as sleep supplements go, we have to say we were quite pleasantly surprised to. Whilst there isn't many of us on the Center TRT team that were able to give it a fair test our two on site gineau pigs did both say it worked better than their go to brands. A few customers noted that it did leave them a little drowsier than they'd have liked, but this is likely due to them containing melatonin supplements and some people having this as a side effect even if it's relatively uncommon for the natural sleep aid.
Contains all the best natural sleep aids
Great customer reviews
Best to help you fall asleep
Only available from their website
Not the cheapest option
Sleep Upgrade is a great sleeping aid alternative. Whether you work multiple shifts and need to squeeze in a bit of rest, you’ve had a stressful day and would like to sleep like a log, or you generally struggle with getting quality sleep.
Besides the direct effects of Sleep Upgrade on sleep, it has been shown to improve cognitive function for a clear mind during the day. It also locks short-term memory into long-term through sleep-mediated memory consolidation and enhances muscle growth by relaxing the muscles and aiding recovery.
A serving of Sleep Upgrade, i.e., three capsules, contains 200mg 5-HTP and L-Theanine each. It also includes other highly bio-available minerals and amino acids. This combination of ingredients stimulates the body’s natural production of melatonin and serotonin, two major hormones that play a role in the quality and duration of sleep.
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However, unlike most sleeping aids, Sleep Upgrade doesn’t contain melatonin. This is to avoid hormonal imbalances and eventual dependence on melatonin to get sleep due to long-term daily use.
On the negative side, Sleep Upgrade does not contain Vitamin K2, an ingredient needed to get the best out of its Vitamin D3 content. We also found that it contains Magnesium Citrate, a form of Magnesium less effective for sleep. Additionally, it is quite expensive and difficult to purchase due to unavailability and high demand.
Sleep Upgrade has received positive reviews from customers. Many have claimed that it helped them relax and wind down after a long day. Others claim it helps them sleep well at night and wake up feeling energized without grogginess. It has also been mentioned that Sleep Upgrade helped reduce restlessness, anxiety, and waking up in the middle of the night, positively impacting the quality of life.
However, it's important to note that everyone's experience with sleep aids may vary. If you take other medications or have a pre-existing medical condition, consult a healthcare professional before trying any new medication or supplement.
No potentially addictive ingredients.
Zero melatonin to avoid hormonal imbalance from daily use.
Contain Magnesium Citrate, a less effective form of Magnesium for sleep.
Lacks Vitamin K
Often unavailable due to high demand.
Dream Goddess is formulated specifically for women, that means it avoids some ingredients and goes heavy on the ones that are well tolerated by females, that means there's less chance of an upset stomach or bloating in the morning.
As such Dream Goddess tops out at the high end of melatonin supplementation with 10mg, as such it's best to first see how one pill effects you before jumping straight in with 2. But, as most women tolerate melatonin well then it's pretty effective for giving you a good night's sleep. It is also at the higher end in terms of costs but it does correctly dose the ingredients outside of it's proprietary blend.The only other negative that we really have with the product is that they do under dose magnesium and seeing as this is one of the better natural sleep aids, we were disappointed by this. So if you're having trouble sleeping, then you'll probably want to make sure that you take a multivitamin as well to get the best from these sleep aids.
The customer reviews are actually one of the highlights of Dream Goddess natural sleep aids, they've got a pretty good reputation, which isn't too surprising seeing as it's high on melatonin which has been proven to help you fall asleep faster and sleep better.
A few customers did note the high price point, but most did say that they thought it was worth it overall.
Good Melatonin Dose
Avoids ingredients that can cause stomach upset in women
High Price Point
Misses Out On Key Vitamins
We've got a male focused blend without melatonin in Sleep Alpha, focused on Ashwagandha, Valerian root and magnesium it also opts for 5htp and zinc. Zinc is particularly interesting for men as even a minor deficiency can mess up hormone production making sleep difficult. As for 5HTP we often see this in weight loss supplements more so than sleep aids, but due to the way it works this is actually quite a good inclusion for otc sleep aids. It works by increasing your dopamine production which of course, helps you fall asleep quicker. As for the core ingredients of Magnesium, Valerian Root and Ashwagandha, they're all well backed as sleep aids. Starting with magnesium being essential for natural GABA production (which tells your body it's time to sleep). And Valerian Root and Ashwagandha are both particularly effective at encouraging unbroken higher quality sleep. The catch is that both of them can cause mild nausea which makes them less suitable for some people and in higher doses they're normally less tolerated by women, hens Sleep Alpha being marked as best mens sleep aid.The only real catch that we have with Sleep Alpha Deep Sleep, is that RestAgain is better in every way, same ingredients, but better dosages. There is however a use case for Sleep Alpha, and that's if you're avoiding melatonin, which there are reasons for. If you're sensitive to it, then you can end up with prolonged drowsiness in the morning, so in this case Sleep Alpha is a great option for men.
Like everything else on this list, sleep alpha's reviews are strong, it's one of the best none melatonin sleep aids out there and ultimately you cant really go wring with it as a two capsule alternative to melatonin.
It's a good all round sleep aid and the only negative reviews were likely down to people who aren't particularly tollerant of Ashwagandha. Which whilst it does promote sleep, can be an issue for enough people to be worth noting.
High Quality Product
Only Available From Their Site
No Melatonin (if you want it)
Nuzena has a really good product and it is one of the best from the company as a whole. It covers off a lot of great ingredients that we like to see in sleep aids. It's backbone is a good dosage of GABA and Melatonin, the ingredient that you won't see in other sleep aids on the market is St Johns Wort, which is quite well documented for helping with stress, one of the leading causes of sleep issues.
The only real downside to the Nuzena sleeping pill is that they contain a few ingredients that require too large doses to really work in pill form. Skullcap and Lemon Balm for example, these could've been replaced with more GABA or some essential vitamins to help more effectively improve sleep problems. All in all it's a pretty good product at a decent price point being the cheapest sleeping pills on our list.
Nuzena have quite a lot of good reviews across the border, particularly from older adults using their other products. There aren't that many reviews off of their website though talking specifically about the product.
Although those that did suggest that it did help them stay asleep and that they say some sleep improvements in general.
High Quality Product
Lots of good ingredients
Includes St Johns Wort
Good Price Point
Underdosed on some ingredients
Could have more GABA and Melatonin
Herbal oil has been demonstrated to help treat mild insomnia in numerous studies, it also seems to help with stress and anxiety which of course can lead to trouble sleeping. So, what makes Spruce special? Spruce is a "full spectrum" oil, this means it contains all the parts of the plant, which is required for it to be effective as a sleep aid. That in and of itself isn't that special, where spruce shines is that they've designed their oil to be maximum strength, but also to avoid any high sensation. This makes it perfect for people who just want to get to sleep. They have a few products that have additions such as CBN and whilst we do think these are likely to be pretty good as is the rest of the spruce range, they're new and we haven't yet tested them at time of writing, but will update our review accordingly.
The customer reviews of spruce are nothing short of glowing and we did find that it was a particularly effective method of treating mild insomnia. The customer base tends to be almost a little too enthusiastic when it comes to oils as natural sleep remedies. Not that we think that the reviews are fake, we actually just think that some of the people who swear by oil products, are realllllly into it. But Spruce does have a stellar reputation industry wide, so we do say you're onto a winner if you want to induce sleep.
Very High Dose
Lab Grade Product
CBD isn't for everyone
Melatonin supplements are one of if not the most potent over the counter sleep aids, typically speaking they're relatively safe and taking too much melatonin is likely to just make you a bit nauseous. For the most part it's recommended that you only take 1-5mg, up to 10mg is generally considered fine, but is at the top end. Melatonin supplements work by heling you fall asleep quickly. It's generally recommended that you don't take them for more than 5 nights in a row. Generally speaking melatonin will make you drowsy for about 5 hours. Melatonin is something that the body produces naturally when it's time to go to sleep, so effectively your hacking your circadian rhythm. Doctors can and do prescribe melatonin as sleep medicine, but it's available to treat insomnia otc.
Valerian Root - Valerian root is another good ingredient for sleep aids, it's safe, but the otc sleep aid can cause some side effects such as headaches or nausea. Multiple studies have shown it to be effective in helping people who have trouble falling asleep and disturbed sleep.
Magnesium - Magnesium is particularly effective as a sleep aid and doesn't come with any side effects, whilst it isn't going to treat any serious cases of chronic insomnia it will help deal with mild insomnia cases and restless sleeping. Magnesium is a GABA agonist meaning it turns on your GABA receptors which have sedative effects. It is also essential in helping the body purge cortisol, the stress hormone, which makes it more difficult to sleep.
Glycine - Glycine raises serotonin production similar to 5htp, several studies have shown that it can help the body get back into healthy sleep cycles making it a good option for people with jetlag or who have broken their sleep schedule. It's also been demonstrated to improve sleep quality and reduce symptoms of insomnia. It works pretty quickly so you do have to take it right before bed as the effective window is around 90 mins to 2 hours. Glycine is produced naturally by your body and appears in a lot of sleep supplements.
GABA - GABA like glycine is produced naturally in the body, research suggests that supplementing GABA is effective in triggering the bodies signals that it's time to sleep inducing short term natural drowsiness helping you get to sleep quicker.
L Theanine - L Theanine is not the most common ingredient in sleeping pills, but is particularly effective, it also doubles up to help reduce stress as well as improving overall sleep quality.
Ashwagandha - This is perhaps the best ingredient for dealing with stress related sleep disorders, as Ashwagandha has been shown in double blind placebo controlled trials to reduce cortisol build up. As well as it's natural ability as a sleep aid it has a host of other benefits to overall mood and even some hormone balancing effects in males.
Calcium - Your body uses calcium in melatonin production, if you don't have enough of it then you are likely to have broken sleep. And nearly 70% of Americans fail to meet their daily calcium intake. As such it should be a first port of call for people struggling to sleep well.