Best Natural Sleep Aids
Medical Disclaimer: The following content should not be used as medical advice or as a recommendation for any specific supplement or medication. It is important to consult your healthcare provider prior to starting a new medication or altering your current dosage.
Even the most consistent sleepers can use a little assistance falling asleep from time to time. Flying across multiple time zones might affect your circadian rhythm, causing jet lag and making it difficult to sleep at the time you’d like. Even drinking coffee too late in the day or exercising too vigorously can impact your ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep soundly. The best natural sleep aids might be able to help.
Whether you opt for melatonin supplements, magnesium sprays, or essential oils, there are a variety of natural sleep aids available to help you sleep. These products offer a natural solution to sleep troubles, and they are available both online and in stores without a prescription. They are usually derived from natural ingredients, like herbs and plants — or, in the case of melatonin supplements, manufactured to mimic a naturally occurring hormone found in the human body.
Top Picks Overview
Our Top Picks
Proper Sleep + RestoreBest Overall
- Immediate-release melatonin helps promote sleep quickly
- Extended-release melatonin keeps you asleep throughout the night
- Valerian root, ashwagandha root, and tart cherry extract increase calmness
Proper Sleep + Restore capsules contain ingredients known for inducing calmness and sleep. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that prompts the body to initiate sleep, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation. This supplement combines melatonin and GABA with relaxation aids found in nature, including valerian root extract, ashwagandha root and leaf extract, tart cherry extract, and rafuma leaf extract.
Two forms of melatonin make Sleep + Restore stand out from other supplements. Each serving contains 3 milligrams of melatonin. Two milligrams release into the body immediately, helping you fall asleep. The final milligram is an extended-release formula, so it begins circulating later, helping you stay asleep.
Proper recommends taking two Sleep + Restore capsules nightly, about 30 to 40 minutes before bedtime. If you’re trying to alter your circadian rhythm so you begin sleeping earlier, taking them 60 to 90 minutes before bedtime is best. The benefits of Sleep + Restore should become evident after 5 nights. Proper suggests continuing the supplement for 4 weeks, however, to receive maximum benefits.
Speak to your doctor before taking this supplement if you’re pregnant. Also, you shouldn’t drink alcohol, drive a car, or operate other machinery after taking it.
Som Sleep OriginalBest Drink
- Liquid drink works well for people who avoid pills
- Stevia leaf extract and natural flavors provide a good taste while keeping calories low
- Melatonin promotes sleep, while GABA, L-theanine, and vitamins induce calm
Som Sleep Original offers a natural sleep aid experience in the form of a berry-flavored drink, making it a top option for people who want to avoid taking pills. Som recommends drinking one 8.1-ounce can half an hour before bedtime to relax the body and promote sleep.
GABA, a naturally occurring neurotransmitter, and L-theanine, an amino acid commonly found in tea and mushrooms, combine to help you relax after sipping on the drink. Then 3 milligrams of melatonin take effect, inducing sleep. Added vitamin B6 and magnesium further promote sleep health.
Although Som Sleep Original is a sweet drink, it only contains 40 calories and 8 grams of sugar due to its pairing of the naturally derived sweeteners erythritol and stevia leaf extract with cane sugar.
According to the company, the drink is safe for nightly use, although Som cautions against combining it with alcohol or medications. The company also suggests talking to your doctor before trying the drink if you are pregnant or nursing.
Hims & Hers Sleep Gummy VitaminsBest Gummies
- Sweet, candy-like gummies are pomegranate flavored
- L-theanine and chamomile reduce stress and may provide other health benefits
- 1 mg of melatonin per gummy allows you to easily customize your dose strength
These sweet, pomegranate-flavored gummies contain relaxation-promoting L-theanine and 1 milligram of melatonin. Their low dosage allows you to choose exactly how much melatonin you’d like to take, with the company recommending two gummies per night.
In addition to melatonin, these supplements contain L-theanine and chamomile, which are commonly found in tea. L-theanine is an amino acid known for promoting relaxation. Chamomile is a plant often brewed into tea. In addition to calming a person’s mood, it may calm an upset stomach.
As with any melatonin supplement, do not take Hims & Hers Sleep Gummy Vitamins while pregnant unless you’ve consulted your doctor first. Also, if you’re on prescription medications, make sure they don’t interact with melatonin before beginning this supplement. Hims & Hers Health offers subscription plans for customers who want to take the gummies nightly, but check with your doctor before using a melatonin supplement on a long-term basis.
Barefoot Scientist Dream StateBest Spray
- Body spray offers an alternative to taking sleep aids in pill form
- Ashwagandha and magnesium relax your muscles and mind
- Magnesium may also reduce muscle pain
If you have a sensitive stomach or simply don’t want to take a natural sleep aid by mouth, Dream State by Barefoot Scientist might be a good option. This spray is intended to go on the soles of your feet at night, so your body can absorb its active ingredients through the skin.
Magnesium is the primary ingredient in Dream State, making it a good choice for people who would rather not take melatonin. Athletes often soak in magnesium baths, and the mineral is likely part of the reason people report receiving healing effects from floating in the Dead Sea. Magnesium is an essential nutrient for many bodily functions, including muscle and nerve function and blood pressure regulation.
If stress, tension, or aches are keeping you from good sleep, magnesium may help, as it’s known to have a relaxing effect on the body. Dream State spray also contains ashwagandha, a plant extract known for promoting relaxation. Also present are sarcosine, potassium aspartate, and magnesium aspartate, which are forms of amino acids known to promote well-being.
Barefoot Scientist recommends spritzing the bottom of each foot once or twice before bed and massaging the spray into the skin. Each spray contains 105.6 milligrams of magnesium chloride. A tingling sensation is normal, but discontinue use if you believe you have an allergic reaction to the spray.
Life Extension Herbal Sleep PMBest Herbal Blend
- Only contains natural ingredients extracted from plants
- Honokiol, lemon balm, and chamomile extracts promote calm and sleep
- Good for people avoiding melatonin or milk peptides
Although melatonin is naturally occurring in the human body, it must be synthetically produced for supplements. For people who prefer to avoid synthetic ingredients, Life Extension Herbal Sleep PM offers an all-natural alternative.
Three plant extracts form the active ingredients in Herbal Sleep PM: honokiol, lemon balm, and chamomile. Honokiol is extracted from the bark of a magnolia tree, lemon balm from the leaf of a lemon balm plant, and chamomile from the flower of the same name.
Life Extension recommends taking one capsule 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime, though an additional capsule may be taken if needed. The company advises against taking this supplement while pregnant or nursing. Some people experience allergic or adverse reactions to herbal supplements, so discontinue taking it if you notice any negative side effects.
Spark Naturals DreamBest Essential Oil
- Oil blend allows you to diffuse, ingest, or topically apply this sleep aid
- All ingredients are natural and derived from plants
- Can be diluted with carrier oil
Dream by Spark Naturals is a pure essential oil blend containing cinnamon, ginger, peppermint, lemon, and grapefruit. Aromatherapy blends are commonly used to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Although the oils in the Dream mixture haven’t been as extensively studied as lavender essential oil, many customer reviews report that this blend helps them sleep better.
Spark Naturals says Dream can be used for aromatherapy, taken orally, or applied to the skin. Many who apply the oil topically prefer to put it on the soles of their feet, an area known for easily absorbing compounds. Since this is a concentrated oil blend, you might want to dilute it with a carrier oil, such as olive oil, grapeseed oil, or sunflower oil. Diluting an essential oil makes it last longer and reduces the likelihood that you will experience negative side effects.
Always consult your doctor if you’re on other medications or supplements to make sure this mixture won’t create a negative interaction. Also, if you’re pregnant or nursing, ask your doctor before beginning this or any natural sleep aid.
What Are Natural Sleep Aids?
Natural sleep aids generally contain ingredients that are naturally occurring chemicals found in the human body, like melatonin, or those sourced in nature, like valerian root. They are available in stores as supplements, without a prescription. Many natural sleep aids contain extracts derived from flowers, roots, or herbs. The ingredients can be combined into a variety of forms, including pills, capsules, gummies, essential oils, teas, or body sprays.
Sleep aids created from natural ingredients have been used since ancient times in many parts of the world. People often prefer natural sleep aids to prescription drugs because they are thought to have fewer side effects and are easier to obtain. Also, some natural sleep aids are thought to provide benefits beyond sleep promotion, such as eased anxiety, improved cognition, and reduced inflammation.
When Should You Take Natural Sleep Aids?
Natural sleep aids can be a good option in instances of short-term sleep disruption. For example, if your sleep schedule is thrown off because you have to work different shifts than normal, or if you travel across multiple time zones and become jet lagged, you might want to consider a natural sleep aid. These products can help you fall asleep quicker and attain better sleep on the schedule you desire.
When Should You Not Take Natural Sleep Aids?
If you believe you have an underlying sleep disorder, you should not take natural sleep aids until you’ve talked with your doctor. Whether you are dealing with insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, or another issue, your doctor can determine how to best treat you. It’s important to diagnose and treat a sleep disorder rather than self-medicate with natural sleep aids.
Also, do not start a natural sleep aid without talking to your doctor if you are pregnant, if you might be allergic to an ingredient in the product, or if you think the sleep aid could interfere with your other medications.
Can You Use Natural Sleep Aids Long-Term?
Whether or not you can take natural sleep aids over the long term depends on your unique situation and the sleep aids in question. Carefully read instructions accompanying the product to see if the manufacturer recommends it for prolonged use. You should also consult with your doctor, who can check for potential side effects or medication interactions and make sure you aren’t needing long-term sleep help because of an underlying sleep disorder.
What Are Some Common Natural Sleep Aids?
The natural sleep aid market is vast, and a multitude of supplement formulas exist. If you look carefully at their ingredient lists, however, you’ll notice that many ingredients are commonly used across brands.
|Natural Sleep Aid||Description|
|Melatonin||Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone found in the human body. It is released in response to darkness and causes sleepiness. Melatonin supplements contain a synthetic version made in a laboratory. Taking oral melatonin may prompt you to fall asleep. It’s particularly useful for adjusting your sleep-wake cycle, such as when you are jet lagged or changing daily work schedules.|
|Lavender||Extracts of the fragrant lavender plant are commonly used to promote relaxation and sleep. Lavender is perhaps the most well-studied essential oil, and it has been consistently shown to reduce stress and promote sleep. People often diffuse or spray lavender essential oil before bedtime, but it is also available in an oral supplement form.|
|Valerian root||Valerian is a tall, flowering herb. Most commonly ingested as a tea, valerian has a strong scent that many people find unpleasant. For this reason, it is often taken in oral supplement form.|
|Chamomile||The small, daisy-like flowers of the chamomile plant are responsible for this herb’s sedating properties. Many people enjoy winding down before bed with a warm cup of chamomile tea. The extract is also available as an oral supplement and essential oil.|
|Passionflower||Passionflower, also called Passiflora incarnata and maypop, is a unique-looking tropical flower that is often purple. Passionflower extract is available as an herbal tea, a capsule, and a liquid supplement.|
|Magnesium||Magnesium is a mineral found abundantly in nature and throughout the human body. It is involved in many biological processes ranging from muscle function to blood sugar regulation. Many people find that supplemental magnesium promotes relaxation and sleep. Magnesium can be taken orally or applied to the skin and absorbed that way.|
Are Natural Sleep Aids Safe to Take?
Many people turn to natural sleep aids because they believe they are safer than prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids like those in antihistamines or nighttime pain medications. Prescription and over-the-counter sleep drugs may come with more side effects. Depending on the drug, they may also be more likely to create a dependence.
The term “natural sleep aid” is very general, and the safety of each sleep product depends on the individual ingredients present. Also, a person’s unique situation affects the safety of a product. For example, some natural sleep aids interfere with prescription drugs. Also, most natural sleep aid manufacturers advise that people who are pregnant or nursing not take their supplement without first consulting with a doctor.
If you are on prescription medications or other supplements, consider contacting your doctor before beginning a natural sleep aid to ensure you won’t experience any drug interactions. Do not take a higher dose than what is stated on the label, and do not take a supplement for longer than directed.
Are There Side Effects From Natural Sleep Aids?
|Allergic Reactions||Allergic reactions to oral supplements can cause itchiness, tingling, swelling, and redness, particularly around the mouth, lips, and face. In an extreme reaction, a person’s throat might swell, in which case they should visit an emergency room immediately. Allergic reactions to topical sleep aids might involve a skin rash.|
|Adverse Reactions||An adverse reaction to a supplement is a negative side effect that is unrelated to allergies. For example, common adverse reactions related to natural sleep aids include headaches, dizziness, and nausea.|
|Excess Sleepiness||People take natural sleep aids to improve the quality of their sleep, but sometimes they can cause excessive fatigue. A person might end up sleeping for longer than intended or feel sleepy throughout the day while on a natural sleep aid. If this happens to you, your doctor may recommend reducing the dosage could help.|
|Drug Interactions||Certain prescription medications don’t mix well with some natural sleep aids. A sleep aid could block a medication from working or cause it to have a greater effect than normal. These interactions are potentially harmful. Consult your doctor and read the labels of both your prescription medications and natural sleep aids carefully to avoid unwanted interactions.|
If you believe you are experiencing negative side effects or drug interactions related to a natural sleep aid, stop taking it immediately and consult your doctor. Seeing a doctor is especially important if the negative effects seem to persist after you’ve discontinued its use.
Are Natural Sleep Aids Government Regulated?
Natural sleep aids are considered dietary supplements. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not check the safety or effectiveness of dietary supplements before they are put on the market. Individual manufacturers are expected to research and assure the safety of their supplements. They are also expected to monitor their supplements for purity and provide accurate labeling.
If people experience an adverse reaction to a dietary supplement, they can report it to the FDA. If the FDA finds that a supplement is dangerous, impure, or mislabeled, the agency can take it off the market.
Getting the Best Results From Natural Sleep Aids
To get the best results from natural sleep aids, take them as directed on the package and stop using them if you experience any negative side effects.
Sleep aids — whether natural, over-the-counter, or prescription — aren’t a good substitute for proper sleep hygiene. To attain high-quality sleep over the long term, it’s important to practice good sleep habits. For example, exercising daily, avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the evening, skipping digital devices before bed, and sleeping in a cool, dark, quiet room all promote sleep.