Tick. Tock... It’s 3:58 am, and–like last night, and the night before–you’re wondering if you’ll fall asleep at all.
Even worse, your alarm clock will buzz in just over an hour. Two things are bound to happen: 1. you’ll be dragging all day; 2. you’ll be clutching a large coffee while you do.
According to the Sleep Foundation, we need at least seven to nine hours of sleep every day. Our body needs that time to restore itself so we can feel rested and tackle the day. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the best beauty sleep supplements that will help you push the snooze button on your insomnia.
The importance of restful sleep
On average, we spend one-third of our lives sleeping (for those of us who can fall asleep and stay asleep, anyway).
Sleep has a significant impact on every aspect of our well-being—from our concentration and mood to our appearance, to our body weight, and even our ability to fight diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The challenge of sleep in modern life
Many of us keep our phones or tablets by our bedside. With their bright lights, they alert us to a new Instagram reel or emails and texts from our coworkers. Before we know it, we’re wired and scrolling or, even worse, doing work at two a.m.
It’s difficult enough to achieve a work-life balance. So, when our sleeping patterns are disrupted, finding balance can seem like a dream. And when we’re sleep-deprived and overworked, we can burn out or even become ill more often.
The consequences of insomnia
Besides dark circles under your eyes and exhaustion, did you know insomnia can also affect your long-term health in the following ways?
- Lack of concentration
- Impaired memory
- Increased symptoms of anxiety
- Increased alcohol consumption
- Increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Increased risk of dementia
Drowsy driving is also on the rise. There’s an increased risk of car accidents among those who suffer from insomnia or sleep-deprived conditions. According to one study: “Sleeping 6 hours per night was associated with a 33% increased crash risk, compared to sleeping 7 or 8 hours per night.”
Benefits to restful and restorative sleep
In addition to feeling rested and at peak performance both mentally and physically, there are clear benefits to getting a good night’s sleep:
- Enhances mood
- Lowers blood pressure
- Can help prevent weight gain
- Increases productivity
- Improves athletic performance (including reaction time, endurance, and muscle recovery)
- Strengthens the immune system
Best sleep supplements for insomnia from A to ZZZ
A natural hormone that regulates our sleep patterns, Melatonin is available as a supplement and has become popular in tablet, gummy, and liquid form. These supplements are available without a prescription in several countries, including the US, but you’ll need a prescription for them in the UK and the EU.
Recommended dose: While there isn’t a set recommended dosage, many recommend taking one to three milligrams daily. It’s often recommended to take this supplement anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour before bedtime, to avoid drowsiness before you intend to fall asleep.
Benefits: In addition to its ability to help us fall asleep faster and improve our quality of sleep–and, for you jet setters out there, even overcome jet lag sooner–it’s also known to help treat stomach ulcers and improve eye health.
Precautions: Few side effects have been reported, but some people have experienced drowsiness, headaches, stomach aches, and occasional dizziness.
Warning: Possible negative interactions with other medicines can occur, especially with blood thinners, anti-epilepsy medications, and antidepressants. As with any supplement, consulting a doctor is recommended.
Valerian root comes from the blooming Valerian plant and has been used to treat a variety of sleep and nervous system conditions dating back to ancient Rome. It’s sold both as a herbal supplement and as a tea.
Recommended dose: There is no consensus as to the most ideal dosage, but research shows taking 300-600 milligrams may be ideal for experiencing its benefits. Also, while these benefits aren’t immediate, usually they can be felt after two weeks of taking it.
Benefits: Valerian root is non-habit forming, and it can alleviate the symptoms of insomnia, generalized sleep disorders, and anxiety.
Precautions: In general, Valerian root is safe, but there are a few mild side effects to look out for: headaches, restlessness, and gastrointestinal issues. Valerian root is known to increase the sedative effects of both alcohol, narcotics, certain anti-anxiety drugs or sedatives (such as benzodiazepines), and other sleep aids. It is important to consult your physician before adding Valerian root to your daily regimen.
Many of us have enjoyed the soothing effects of a cup of chamomile tea just before bedtime. Its calming, sleep-inducing properties can also be found in essential oils/aromatherapy, liquid, and capsule form.
Recommended dose: The most common way to consume chamomile is in a cup of tea. Simply steeping the bag for seven minutes or so (or as recommended), will release all of its beneficial properties. Some people drink up to four cups per day!
Benefits: Valerian has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anticarcinogenic properties, and it can help with premenstrual symptoms.
Precautions: Mild effects such as skin reactions (if applied topically), drowsiness, and allergic reactions are possible. Large doses should be avoided, as they are linked to vomiting and other gastrointestinal issues. There’s also evidence that it can also have a negative interaction with ginkgo biloba, valerian root, and garlic.
Avoid consuming different forms of chamomile at one time (say, a tablet and several cups of tea, etc.), as this could lead to some of the above side effects.
Some of us may have used the tiny threads of the saffron crocus plant as a flavouring agent in a recipe. Fortunately, the saffron extract isn’t anywhere near as expensive as the cooking spice. Sold in pill form, this supplement is available at many health and dietary supplement stores.
Recommended dose: A study in Australia concludes patients who take 28 milligrams daily for at least four weeks will experience improvement in their sleep quality. Further research shows that after taking 30 milligrams of saffron extract daily, patients experienced a significant positive effect on their mood balance.
Benefits: It can help us achieve more satisfying sleep and improve our mood. It can also help decrease symptoms of depression, anxiety, menstrual cramps, and PMS. Saffron extract can also help with weight loss by curbing your sugar cravings. Further, it can alleviate symptoms of allergic asthma and help reduce fatigue in patients with multiple sclerosis.
Precautions: Dry mouth, drowsiness, agitation, vomiting, and changes in appetite may occur. Saffron can also cause blood pressure to lower too much in patients who suffer from lower-than-normal blood pressure. High doses should be avoided. For example, five grams or more could cause poisoning, and consuming 12 grams or more could even cause death, so always use as directed.
For women who are pregnant, large amounts of saffron can be unsafe, causing the uterus to contract prematurely, or even lead to miscarriage. It’s essential to consult your doctor before taking this supplement.
Passionflower (often called incarnata), is a blooming vine, native to Central and South America in addition to the southeastern United States. It is often consumed as a tea, used within recipes, or taken in supplement form.
Recommended dose: 250-900mgs is cited as being a typical dose, although there isn’t a great deal of research to support an optimal dosage.
Benefits: Passionflower is known for its calming effect, and it can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, especially anxiety that patients experience before surgery. However, there may be a risk/negative interaction between this and drugs administered during anaesthesia.
Precautions: Passion fruit can sometimes cause confusion and dizziness. For women who are pregnant, it can lead to early uterine contractions or early labour, so you may want to avoid taking passionflower while pregnant.
Magnesium is a nutrient that helps support our muscular and nervous systems, in addition to helping regulate our blood sugar and blood pressure. While we can get most of our required daily value from leafy veg. or other proteins, supplements can offer an added boost to our sleeping patterns.
Recommended dose: Anywhere from 100 to 200 milligrams on average of either magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate may be ideal to reap the most benefits for your insomnia.
Benefits: Magnesium supplements can help us fall asleep faster, and stay asleep, in addition to warding off restless leg syndrome. It can also contribute to overall metabolic health and positively impact our mood. It can also serve as an electrolyte and help us with fluid balance and retention.
Precautions: Although they are rare, some people may experience nausea, bloating, or vomiting. Avoid high doses of this supplement, as excess magnesium can cause confusion, low blood pressure (with individuals who have sub-normal BP), heartbeat irregularities, coma, or even death. Consult with a physician before including this supplement in your daily routine.
In addition to its supplement form, lavender is popular in a variety of products such as a spray for your bed pillow, bath gels, a sleepy-time tea, or essential oil for your diffuser.
Recommended dose: If you use lavender oil, it’s best to place a few drops onto a cloth and breathe it in. Do so in a well-ventilated room, and follow the directions on the product.
Benefits: Lavender can help us relax and fall asleep. It’s also known to help with symptoms of anxiety such as restlessness.
Precautions: Increased appetite, constipation, drowsiness, or headaches can occur. Avoid taking lavender while also taking other supplements that can cause drowsiness, such as St. John’s wort, Valerian, and Jamaican dogwood.
You may want to avoid this supplement or consult your physician if you’re also taking anti-anxiety medication, sedatives, or blood pressure medication, as there could be serious adverse side effects.
Glycine is a natural neurotransmitter and amino acid that we can find in many foods, including, meat, dairy, and legumes.
Recommended dose: An oral dose of three to five grams can be effective in reaping the sleep benefits of this supplement.
Benefits: Known for improving sleep quality and producing a deep, satisfying sleep, glycine can help reduce symptoms of insomnia and even lower our core body temperature–which is important when we first enter the sleep cycle. There is also a positive correlation between glycine levels and cognitive functioning, such as memory and attention span.
Side effects: In general, side effects are uncommon, but here are a few mild effects to look out for: soft stools, nausea, or diarrhoea.
Warning: Patients who take Clozapine (Clozaril) to treat symptoms of schizophrenia, may want to avoid taking glycine since it can interfere with the effectiveness of Clozapine.
Also, women who are pregnant and/or breastfeeding may want to avoid this supplement or consult their physician beforehand, since there aren’t many studies addressing the impact of glycine on pregnant women.
We can show you how beauty sleep isn’t just a dream
Although our comprehensive guide lays out the pros and cons of each sleep supplement, it may seem difficult to choose only one that will work best for you– especially when there are so many benefits to each one.
Earths Secrets’ all-natural sleep complex combines the best of those supplements—organic chamomile, saffron extract (Affron), passionflower, and lavender—all in a single tablet.
You deserve a good night’s rest, so you can wake up energized to pursue the dreams that matter to you the most.