The best sleep support supplement
It's not always easy to doze off into a deep sleep. Catching z's isn't a simple task for everyone, and even those who have a talent for quickly heading off to dreamland might run into trouble with insomnia at some point in their lives. Poor sleep can lead to a variety of problems, including depression and a compromised immune system. If a good night's sleep seems out of reach, consider trying sleep support supplements, like our favorite, Integrative Therapeutics Cortisol Manager.
Considerations when choosing sleep support supplements
Lack of sleep and effects
Could you be experiencing insomnia? If you're having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you may be having an episode of sleeplessness, or it may be the beginning of a chronic issue. Occasional sleep issues that occur for less than three months at a time are considered acute. A chronic condition is characterized by symptoms that occur multiple times per week for longer than three months.
Insomnia and related sleep troubles may have a variety of root causes, but there are a few common reasons you may be experiencing sleeplessness:
Chronic or acute pain
Jet lag as a result of recent travel
Sleepless partner or restless pet
Noisy bedroom environment
Too much light exposure when trying to sleep
There are a number of different ingredients often featured in OTC sleep supplements. Following is a rundown of some of the most effective:
One of the most common sleep support supplements available is melatonin, a naturally produced hormone. Our bodies experience a cyclical rise in melatonin at the tail end of the day when the sun begins to set and available light decreases. Unfortunately, this natural sleep-inducing process hasn't quite adjusted to modern life. Unlike our cavemen ancestors, modern-day humans are often up way past sunset watching TV, playing on iPads, checking smartphones, and reading in bed. Melatonin, however, is a way to potentially counteract the brightness around you and help promote sleepiness. Melatonin is usually taken about 30 minutes to two hours before bedtime.
Sourced from the root of the valerian plant, this herbal sleep supplement is pungent but relatively effective. It's usually taken in capsule form because of the root's unpleasant taste and aroma.
There's a reason allergy medication is available in non-drowsy formulas. The active ingredient in many allergy pills is likely to cause sleepiness. Drowsiness, however, doesn't translate to restful sleep. Antihistamines may also cause a host of side effects, so they're not an ideal long-term solution.
Chamomile is an easy-to-grow herbal insomnia remedy that's often taken in tea form. It's a well-known calming herb that's also available in capsule form.
The gentle scent of lavender doesn't just help relieve stress; it's also thought to improve one's ability to fall asleep. It's available in capsule form, but we recommend using lavender essential oils or lavender-scented lotions when attempting to induce sleep to receive the full effect of this floral scent.
Those deficient in magnesium may benefit from supplementing with the mineral. Supplementation should be done carefully because it's possible to consume too much and experience unpleasant side effects.
A component in green and black teas, L-theanine is thought to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality.
Glycine is an amino-acid with sleep-promoting abilities.
Sleep support supplement pricing depends on the quantity and brand of the product in question. The price range varies considerably due to the various types of ingredients used in sleep support supplements, but expect to pay between $5 and $20 for a bottle or product designed to last one month.
Q. Are sleep supplements safe, and is there anyone who should avoid using them?
A. Sleep supplements aren't regulated by the FDA, so while they are generally considered safe, it's challenging to track consumer side effects. Do not take sleep support supplements if you're currently taking medication without talking to a doctor or pharmacist. Avoid megadose supplements and read customer reviews before purchasing.
Q. Are multi-ingredient sleep support supplements more effective?
A. Not necessarily. We recommend sticking to single-ingredient products. It's easier to adjust the dosage and spot potential side effects when taking a single-ingredient sleep support supplement. If you're keen on trying a multi-ingredient option, try the supplement types separately first to check for adverse reactions.
Sleep support supplements we recommend
Best of the best: Integrative Therapeutics' Cortisol Manager
Our take: No-nonsense prescription quality product designed for managing stress levels and ultimately helping with insomnia.
What we like: No potential for dependency. Targets high levels of stress. Safe enough for regular use.
What we dislike: Expensive.
Best bang for your buck: Puritan's Pride's Super-Strength Rapid-Release Melatonin Capsules
Our take: Excellent value for such a high dose of melatonin.
What we like: High levels of naturally occurring melatonin. Fast-acting. Limited side effects.
What we dislike: Not effective for all users.
Our take: A kid-friendly sleep-support supplement for children who have trouble falling asleep.
What we like: Safe for young kids ages three and older in an accessible gummy format. Quick results.
What we dislike: Not vegan or kosher.
Steph Coelho is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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