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Ah, the power of a good night’s sleep. You feel better, look better, generally, everything is glorious. The only problem? Getting a good night’s sleep isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. Those recommended eight hours are more often than not a pipe dream, thwarted by crammed schedules, endless to-do lists, and a general lack of time. Not to mention that once you finally do get in bed, falling—and staying—asleep can become an issue.
So it’s no surprise that sleep supplements are having a major moment. Typically relying on long-used ingredients such as melatonin, valerian root, and magnesium (just to name a few), there are more options out there than ever before that promise to help you snooze. Of course, as with any supplement, you’ll want to check with your doc before taking one, and it’s wise to think of these as the occasional assist rather than a nightly necessity. Still, that being said, sleep supplements can help you finally get a good night’s rest when counting sheep just isn’t cutting the mustard.
Ahead, board-certified sleep specialist Dr. Michael Breus shares what to keep in mind as you begin your search for a sleep supplement.
Meet the Expert
Michael Breus, Ph.D., is a board-certified sleep specialist, a diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine, and an American Academy of Sleep Medicine fellow. He was recently appointed as Purple's first Chief Sleep Advisor and is the author of three bestselling books. He appears regularly on The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, The Doctors, CBS This Morning, and Huffington Post Live and contributes to The Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and The Dr. Oz Blogs.
What to Look For in a Sleep Supplement
First, Get to the Root of Your Sleep Troubles
When looking for a sleep supplement, Dr. Breus first recommends getting to the root of the issue to ensure you’re taking the correct supplement for your needs. “You really need to understand what your body is currently doing and if you have any vitamin, mineral, or hormonal deficiencies that could be affecting your sleep,” he says. “The four areas I suggest people test for are vitamin D, magnesium, iron (specifically ferritin), and melatonin.” So, if you’re having issues with sleep, the first step should be visiting your doctor to run a blood or saliva test to see if you have any of these deficiencies. If you do, you can begin treating with the appropriate supplement recommended by your doctor.
Choose the Right Ingredient for Your Symptoms
If you don’t have any deficiencies yet have sleep issues you feel require a sleep aid, Dr. Breus recommends a few different supplement options for different symptoms. He suggests trying melatonin, valerian root, or magnolia bark supplements if you're having trouble falling asleep, and he also recommends melatonin for those who wake up too early. If you’re having trouble staying asleep, his top picks are supplements that contain GABA and jujube.
More importantly, he recommends staying away from sleep aids that contain antihistamines to make you feel sleepy. “There is a ton of data to suggest those medicines have serious long-term side effects, including a relationship with dementia and Alzheimers,” he says.
Look for Quality Ingredients and Standards
Dr. Breus stresses that the saturated sleep supplement market is filled with brands that aren’t very reliable, so it’s important to do your research on a brand before making your purchase. A good place to start? He recommends looking into where the brand sources its raw materials from, whether or not the standards it uses are generally recognized as safe, and how close to pharmaceutical standards its products are.
Of course, this information isn’t always readily available (plus, the average consumer may not know what standards are considered to be up to par), so he also suggests asking your doctor or your local vitamin store for brand recommendations if you’re not sure where to start.
Below, our favorite sleep supplements that'll earn even an insomniac's seal of approval—trust us.
Best Powder: Moon Juice Dream Dust
The star of the show here is a unique blend of adaptogenic herbs plus soothing chamomile extract to help you Zen out and pass out. Per the name, there’s even an herb that’s meant to help release stagnant emotions through your dreams. Um, yes, please. Just mix one to two teaspoons into hot water or tea (FYI, it won’t fully dissolve) for a pre-bedtime beverage.
Best Splurge: Dr. Barbara Sturm Sleep Food
These pills may be pricey, but they do more than just help you sleep. There’s a combo of ingredients that work by boosting your body’s own production of neurotransmitters (AKA brain chemicals) that help you relax and sleep, namely GABA and serotonin. But there are also three types of B-vitamins in here, that, along with impacting your sleep, help target signs of aging to keep your skin looking youthful, too.
Best Vegan: SugarBear Sleep
You’ve likely seen the hair version of these vitamins all over Instagram, but the latest addition to the brand is all about sleep. They’re packed with pretty much every possible sleep-promoting and calming ingredient you can think of, from melatonin to magnesium. Also noteworthy: The addition of 5-HTP, an amino acid that aids in the production of serotonin but also helps boost your mood. They’re also vegan, soy-, gluten-, and cruelty-free and have a yummy berry flavor.
Best for Stress Relief: Perricone MD Sleep Booster
This skincare brand is all about taking a holistic approach to both your skin and health, so it makes sense that they offer a sleep supplement as well. Along with melatonin, it contains three different ingredients to help combat stress: ashwagandha, magnesium, and l-theanine. Save these to cap off those ultra-stressful days when you think there’s no way you’ll be able to fall asleep.
Best With Skin Benefits: HUM Nutrition Mighty Night Supplement
The importance of sleep for your skin is undeniable; the overnight hours are an essential time when it finally has the chance to repair and regenerate itself. The bottom line: Skimp on sleep, and it will quickly show up on your face. That’s the thinking behind these newbies.
Valerian root and passionflower combat insomnia and help you stay asleep, while skin-loving ingredients such as ceramides, CoQ10, and ferulic acid give your complexion an added boost in its reparative tasks. Despite the fact that these are fairly new, they already have legions of devoted shoppers, who comment on both how much they’ve helped improve both their sleep and their skin. Beauty sleep indeed.
Best With CBD: Kaleidoscope Labs CBD Sleep
CBD is all the rage for all areas of health and wellness, sleep included. While research is still in its infancy, there is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence that it can help promote sleep and relaxation. These capsules contain 30 milligrams of it per dose, along with a unique microencapsulation technology that ensures it’s better absorbed into your bloodstream (i.e. is more effective). Melatonin, l-theanine, and valerian root round out the other ingredients.
Best Without Melatonin: Hush & Hush MindYourMind
Melatonin is one of the most common ingredients in sleep supplements, but there is a possibility of your body becoming reliant on it if you keep taking it, which is why some people prefer to avoid it. For those, this pick is a great alternative. It relies instead on ingredients like tryptophan (the component in turkey that makes you sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner!), valerian root, magnesium, and holy basil, all of which work together to help you wind down and ease into sleep.
Best Wine Replacement: Kin DreamLight
A glass of red before bed can for sure make you sleepy, but it’s not necessarily the healthiest option. Enter this newbie beverage, which touts itself as an alternative to a boozy nightcap. With ingredients such as a micro-dose of melatonin, reishi mushroom, and passionflower, you’re meant to take a one and a half ounce serving an hour or two before bed. Drink it chilled or warm, straight up or mixed with oat milk, per the brand’s suggestion. As an added bonus, the blend also contains clove, ginger, oak, cinnamon, and chili to aid with digestion, making this nice to sip on after a heavy meal.
Best Drugstore: Olly Sleep Gummy
Along with three milligrams of melatonin—the hormone that regulates our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle—this also contains l-theanine, an amino acid that encourages calmness. (They’re so good and effective that one Byrdie editor calls them life-changing.) Added botanicals promote even further relaxation, and we’re big fans of the yummy blackberry flavor.
Best Budget: Glow Habit Sleep Well Habit
The affordability aspect of these gummies can’t be beaten. Still, they pack just as much of a punch as others, with five milligrams of melatonin per serving (and have a delicious, natural blueberry flavor to boot). And since one serving is two gummies, you can take just one if you want less of an effect.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough sleep supplements from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.