Sleep is a natural function of the body. Therefore, it should preferably be influenced by natural supplements. Sleep is critical for energy levels, and yet, for people with disturbed sleep, it can be quite unnerving when looking to find out which are the best supplements to help sleep through the night.
Deep, restful sleep is vital for achieving maximum energy. Without deep, long periods of 8-9 hours of healthy, restorative sleep on a regular basis, we will accelerate the aging process, slow the metabolism, impair physical and mental performance and predispose ourselves to a long list of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and chronic fatigue.
During sleep, we recharge the body and mind, as the body is repairing itself at a cellular level and performing all kinds of crucial healing functions in the body from restoring muscles, to burning fat, to releasing important hormones, and all kinds of crucial actions that are important for the health of the mind and body.
The trouble is, not enough of us are getting really good quality sleep anymore. Sleep problems have become an epidemic.
Why We Need Supplements
This is largely due to our fast paced, technology-saturated lifestyle which takes a great toll on our circadian rhythms. Too much blue light, inadequate sunlight exposure, late workouts, stress, hormone disruption from environmental toxins, making it difficult for us to become sleepy when we should be.
Prescription sleep meds can be useful when used for a short period of time to re-establish sleep. And if your doctor has explicitly told you that you must be on sleeping pills due to a particular condition, please follow their orders.
Why You Should Use Herbal Remedies
Sleeping pills are also highly addictive (and many cause you to build up a tolerance). Because of this, it’s extremely common for people to get addicted to them.
According to Marc Leavey, MD, “At a certain point, you won’t be able to fall asleep without them. Of course, with benzos (e.g., Xanax), you get used to them — you’re addicted — so you’ll have to bump up the dose to get the same effect, and then you have increased problems as time goes on.”
Sleep researcher Shawn Youngstedt, Ph.D., sums all this up with a troubling comment: “Sleeping pills are extremely hazardous. They are as bad as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.”
The Most Effective Natural Herbs and Supplements
Natural sleep supplements, such as vitamins, minerals, and healthy herbs can help us to stimulate the calming and drowsy sleep receptors in the brain—helping to prepare us for a night of deep rejuvenating sleep that restores energy and enhances mental and physical performance, not inhibit it the following day.
These kinds of supplements can actually help you get your circadian rhythms regulated, allowing you to maximize your daytime energy levels and enhance performance in all you do.
In humans, 5-HTP is the immediate nutrient precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT) and it converts into serotonin in the brain. Your body uses tryptophan to manufacture 5-HTP, which is part of the reason for all the mythology about turkey making you sleepy from all the tryptophan. Serotonin is, of course, profoundly important for sleep and mood, as well as learning and hormone regulation among its many other roles in the human body.
One reason 5-HTP is such a good supplement for sleep is that it helps replenish the serotonin we naturally lose as we age. So, 5 HTP can help alleviate serotonin deficiencies as we age and help manufacture new serotonin as well.
Serotonin also helps us to manufacture melatonin, which is vitally important for sleep and is the chief hormone that controls our wake-sleep cycle. In several studies, 5-HTP has been shown to be beneficial in treating insomnia, especially in improving sleep quality by increasing REM sleep.
GABA (gamma butyric acid) is a naturally occurring chemical compound produced in the brain that helps to calm the excitability of neurons. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain which has suppressive effects upon the excitatory neurotransmitters norepinephrine and glutamate.
GABA helps to activate calming neurotransmitters in the brain helping us to get naturally sleepy. As an added bonus, GABA can also help relieve anxiety and relax the body and muscles as well. Users say taking GABA at night helps them feel very calm, drowsy, and ready for a good, long night of sleep.
Recently, researchers found that natural GABA has various sleep-improving effects. The researchers measured brain waves using electroencephalography (EEG) after participants took 100 milligrams (mg) of natural GABA or placebo.  Those who took GABA fell asleep faster and had longer quality sleep time. They also experienced enhanced periods of REM sleep and reported feeling more energized in the morning. GABA is one of the best natural sleep supplements around for helping you get truly restorative sleep.
Vitamin B-6 converts a small amount of the tryptophan in your body to niacin, or vitamin B-3, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep patterns. By failing to obtain an adequate amount of vitamin B-6 in your diet, your body’s metabolism of tryptophan may be disturbed. This may limit the amount of serotonin in your body, potentially leading to disturbed sleep patterns and insomnia. A deficiency in B6 will cause insomnia and difficulty sleeping.