Sleep Supplements: What To Know & The Products To Try

If you’re one of the many to whom sleep doesn’t come easy, then a sleep supplement could be worth trying. We went to four sleep experts to find out about the natural remedies they recommend – and how to maximise their effects…
By Tor West /

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Start With Magnesium & Calcium

Around 17% of the UK population is affected by insomnia at any one time. There’s also been a significant increase in this feature over the last two years from the stress of Covid and from the side-effects of the virus itself. Sleep is such a powerful cleanser that rids the brain of metabolites that build up over the day – when you don’t get enough sleep or your sleep is frequently interrupted, these metabolites don’t clear and impair day-to-day functioning. A deficiency in both calcium and magnesium can lead to sleep issues, so start by supplementing with these. They will ease the issue of sleep problems quickly. Magnesium powder is an easy way to take this nutrient – take in the early evening for the best results. Pure Encapsulations’ Magnesium Powder is great. Studies also show that it works well when paired with calcium. Research shows disturbances in sleep, especially the absence of REM deep sleep, are related to a calcium deficiency.” – Simone Thomas, bio-energetics practitioner & nutrition advisor 

Understand The Different Types

“Magnesium is an incredible nutrient for better sleep – it can calm the muscles and nerves, thereby promoting relaxation and deeper sleep. When buying a supplement, look for the citrate, malate and glycinate forms of magnesium, which are easier to absorb. Magnesium bisglycinate may be particularly effective when it comes to sleep, and is more bioavailable, gentle and easy for the body to absorb come bedtime.” – Dr Aparna Prinja, physician & nutritionist 

Calm The Mind With Valerian

“Valerian is one of the most well-known, well-regarded and well-researched herbal remedies on the market and is extremely effective in supporting sleep. It’s proven at aiding relaxation, both physically and mentally. It works as a muscle relaxant, and also helps calm nervous energy and anxiety – it’s believed compounds found in valerian extract are essential for the brain to perform the sleep function properly. It won’t leave you feeling groggy the following day either – it simply helps support your natural sleep cycle. Take 250-500mg in capsule form around 45 minutes before bed.” – Simone

MAGNESIUM is an INCREDIBLE NUTRIENT for better sleep – it can calm the muscles and nerves, thereby promoting relaxation and DEEPER SLEEP.

Try Old-School Formulas

Bach’s Rescue Night Spray is an industry favourite, and with good reason. It contains the classic calming flower essences found in Rescue Remedy, with the addition of white chestnut flower to soothe the mind. Taking a couple of sprays on the tongue an hour before going to bed can help balance the emotions and promote restful sleep. Valeriana Complex 6c by The Organic Pharmacy is a homeopathic remedy which I also rate – it’s gentle, soothing and does wonders to calm the mind and aid sleep.” – Aparna 

Stock Up On Vitamin C

“If you have no problems falling asleep but wake up in the middle of the night, try supplementing with vitamin C, as low vitamin C levels have been linked to night-time disturbances. In fact, studies show a reduced concentration of vitamin C in the blood may be associated waking in the night and struggling to get back to sleep. As well as a good-quality vitamin C supplement, be sure to eat plenty of vitamin C-rich foods such as peppers, kiwi, citrus fruit and berries.” – Eleanor Thrupp, nutritional therapist at Innermost

Unwind With 5-HTP

“5-HTP is a compound made naturally in the body that helps the body to produce serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in regulating mood and sleep-wake cycles, and science shows melatonin, our main sleep hormone, is also made from serotonin. Designs for Health 5-HTP Supreme is a great supplement – it contains vitamin B6 and 5-HTP to support overall neurotransmitter metabolism – while Innermost’s Relax Capsules contain nootropic and adaptogenic ingredients to aid relaxation, regulate sleep, improve sleep quality and lower stress levels.” – Eleanor 

Take B Vitamins To Aid Melatonin Production

“B vitamins – vitamin B6 in particular – aid in the production of melatonin, which is important for sound, restful sleep, as well as mood. Studies also show vitamin B6 can help you fall asleep and wind down – it’s an essential vitamin to modulate the body’s stress response and relax the nervous system. As well as a supplement, the best food sources are bananas, plain yoghurt, cashews, almonds and sweet potatoes.” – Eleanor

It can take FOUR TO SIX WEEKS TO SEE RESULTS, so stick with a supplement once you start taking it.

Opt For A Liquid Formula

“Using a liquid supplement with a water-based solution means the ingredients are delivered in meaningful doses, resulting in a noticeable impact on your sleep. Indi’s Rest is a great one to try if you struggle with your sleep. It combines concentrated doses of plant extracts and adaptogens, including ashwagandha, which has been shown to lower cortisol levels, helping the body relax and prepare for sleep, as well as 5-HTP, which helps control the sleep cycle, and L-theanine, an amino acid shown to reduce stress, anxiety and combat insomnia. It also contains chamomile, a naturally sedative herb, and valerian root, which is proven to improve the quality of REM sleep. If you have low levels of tryptophan (the amino acid that helps make melatonin), you may see an improvement in sleep quality straight away.” – Dr Federica Amati, registered nutritionist & chief nutrition scientist for Indi Supplements 

Don’t Expect Miracles Overnight

“It’s always best to take supplements for at least four to six weeks to allow them to work effectively and correct any imbalances in the body, so if you start taking a supplement, stick with it. At the same time, supplements shouldn’t be a long-term solution – they should be used as an aid rather than to solve an issue. It’s important to ensure you’re eating a balanced diet that contains a variety of vitamins and minerals as well as improving lifestyle choices, whether that’s exercising more, meditating, journaling or reducing screen time.” – Eleanor

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