Top 5 Supplements for Insomnia and Better Sleep! (updated and improved for 2019)

supplements for sleep
My Top 5 supplements for better sleep.
   Author's Note: Insomnia isn't just annoying, it can be dangerous for your health; causing a host of  health problems, such as increased risk of heart disease and even depression.  Insomnia is extremely difficult to live with, as it affects one's entire well being, family life, and work life. Insomnia can also be especially dangerous for those who get behind the wheel of a car or for those who operate heavy machinery.  This being the case, it is important to get your insomnia in check as soon as possible, whether it be via breathing techniques, supplements, or seeing your Dr. for more professional help. We will focus, however, on just supplement options here. The following are the most effective supplements that I have personally used for treating both acute and chronic insomnia.

1. Melatonin is a hormone that is responsible for  regulating sleep patterns. At night, the body produces more melatonin, giving us that tired feeling that prepares us for sleep. On some occasions, especially as we get older,  melatonin isn't sufficiently produced by the body, causing sleep problems that can eventually lead to insomnia. By supplementing with melatonin, you can effectively raise your melatonin levels at bedtime, helping you get longer more restorative sleep. How much melatonin should a person take? Typically melatonin comes in 1-3 mg tabs and this is usually sufficient for most adults wanting to receive better sleep. However,  some individuals may require up to 6-10 mg to experience a therapeutic effect. What is the cost of Melatonin? Melatonin is fairly inexpensive (especially when compared to prescription products), costing anywhere from 5-15 dollars for  a 3-month supply.  Melatonin can also be purchased in a variety of forms, such as sub-lingual, chew-able, and tablets and capsules. It should also be noted that  melatonin can now be purchased in time release tablets that helps extend the release time, providing  a longer therapeutic effect at bedtime. .If you find that regular melatonin wears off too quickly, it might be a good idea to try a product that offers an extended release formula. 

2. 5-HTP is a naturally occurring amino acid and has been credited as a necessity for overall well-being. 5-HTP, when taken at bedtime, has also been shown to help a person sleep both better and longer. It should be noted, however, that 5-HTP, being a serotonin precursor, can be potentially dangerous in some individuals due to possible serotonin overload or "serotonin syndrome."  This is especially true if the person is on any type of SSRI's. It's likely that those taking 5-HTP would be be a contraindication for those taking any type of antidepressants.   How much 5-HTP should a person take? Usually, supplements containing 5-HTP contain between 20-50 mgs  and should be sufficient for most individuals who are suffering from insomnia. What is the cost of 5-HTTP ? Like Melatonin, 5-HTP is relatively inexpensive with a cost of around $15 for a 2-month's supply.         

3. GABA is a naturally  occurring neurotransmitter that is responsible for overall well-being, having a calming effect on the brain. For those with sleep anxiety, GABA can help clam down brain activity giving a person a more peaceful night's sleep. Like 5-HTP, however, GABA can be dangerous if used in conjunction with some prescription drugs, so it's important to talk with your Dr. before experimenting with this supplement if you are currently taking medications. How much GABA should you take?   Around 100-150 mg is usually sufficient to experience a therapeutic effect. What is the cost of GABA? Depending on brand name, GABA runs anywhere form $10-$30 for a 3-month supply, so it is relatively affordable considering its potential benefits.  

4. Valerian  has been shown in some studies to help a person fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep longer. Valerian is also generally well tolerated, so most people can use this supplement without adverse effects. Valerian is available in a multitude of forms such as teas and capsules. The brand Yogi makes an excellent tea for sleep that also includes Valerian root as one of its main actives.  I personally like having it in a tea, as this provides a calming effect on the body and helps put me to sleep faster than the capsules.   How much Valerian to take? Generally 500 mg of Valerian root is enough to experience a therapeutic effect. The cost of Valerian ranges from around $5-$12 for a 3-month.

5. Chamomile Tea:  It's no surprise that chamomile lands on my top five list of supplements that help improve  sleep and sleep quality. Chamomile has been used for hundreds of years for helping people relax at nighttime. A relaxed body and mind is much more able to sleep than one that is in flight or fight mode. Chamomile tea is available at most grocery stores and most online health stores for less than three dollars in some cases.  Chamomile tea also tastes great and sometimes is combined with Valerian for a synergistic effect. As mentioned, the Yogi brand, for example, makes a great bedtime tea that combines both ingredients that really help promote sleepiness.   

Not getting enough sleep can be serious, especially if  it's chronic causing a host of potential illnesses.  It's important to try to get into a regular sleep pattern and restore your circadian sleep rhythm as soon as possible. The aforementioned supplements are some great tools to help you relax and fall asleep faster and for a longer period of time. However, because of the possible contraindications, always talk with your Dr. before beginning any new supplement  regimen.

Thanks for reading and happy sleeping!

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