Today's best natural sleep aids are more versatile and effective than ever.
It's a good thing, too: The World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled sleeplessness a global epidemic1, linked to brain fog, low energy, mood problems, poor health and suboptimal human performance.2,3
Our modern world is partly to blame: Stress, multitasking, computer use and electronic devices have all been linked to sleep problems.4,5
To meet today's complex challenges, the best sleep supplements are now evolving to help from many new angles. Including:
- Replacing synthetic high-dose melatonin with natural low-dose cherry melatonin, for sleep without groggy side effects.
- Promoting brain chemicals beyond melatonin for mental relaxation, drowsiness and faster sleep onset.
- Soothing achy joints, unwinding tight muscles and promoting physical relaxation and comfort for sleep.
- Breaking the stress-sleepless cycle: Stress → bad sleep → irritable mornings → more stress, ad infinitum.
- Delivering carryover benefits for next-day energy, mental clarity, athletic performance and mood.
Advanced natural sleep aids combine several quality over-the-counter ingredients into one convenient stack, for broad-spectrum support that does more than just knock you out.
The best sleep supplements deliver deep regenerative rest that boosts all aspects of next-day performance and long-range health.
To get there, supplements source the most effective and versatile ingredients, and then combine the ones that work better together.
This guide presents three over-the-counter natural sleep aids that we have learned are capable of producing the best sleep benefits when combined:
- Montmorency Tart Cherry - Natural low-dose melatonin plus joint-soothing fruit antioxidants.
- L-Tryptophan - Sedating melatonin-booster plus mood balance and stress support.
- Magnesium - Multitasking trace mineral helps to unwind tense muscles and relax the nervous system.
Taken individually, any of these 3 supplements for sleep can help.
Taken together, Montmorency Tart Cherry, L-Tryptophan and Magnesium appear to have sleep-enhancing synergy that matches up perfectly with today's most daunting sleep challenges.
Best Individual OTC Sleep Supplements
Montmorency Tart Cherry
Montmorency Tart Cherry is the best sleep supplement overall because it is an upgrade over synthetic melatonin.
Melatonin is the most important sleep hormone.
Darkness signals for melatonin release, which in turn brings sleep-inducing relaxation and drowsiness.
Light signals to stop melatonin release — which in turn wakes us up and keeps us awake throughout the day.
Melatonin regulates circadian rhythm to promote consistent, healthy sleep patterns.
But many internal and external factors can diminish melatonin levels and disrupt circadian rhythm, leading to poor sleep quality or insomnia:
- Cell phones, tablets, TVs and computers produce artificial light that suppresses melatonin and promotes sleep-disruptive wakefulness.6
- Night work, caffeine, stress and being overweight have also been linked to disruptions in melatonin production and circadian rhythm.7
- The aging process brings a natural decline in melatonin levels.8
Melatonin is the #1 sleep supplement because it enables you to raise sleep hormone as needed, simply by taking a capsule or pills — no matter what melatonin challenges you may be facing.
Melatonin remedies can reset your internal clock, optimize circadian rhythm and maintain ideal levels for sleep.
In a human research study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, MIT researchers suggested that in people with sleep problems:9
- Optimal melatonin dosage for restoring sleep efficiency is 0.3 mg
- 0.3 mg dosage was more effective for restful sleep than 3 mg dose
- 3 mg dose caused melatonin levels to remain elevated into the next day (daytime drowsiness)
However, most supplements use synthetic melatonin that's dosed way too high, typically 3 mg or more.
This approach does not fit natural lifestyles and raises risk for groggy side effects.
Montmorency Tart Cherry is a better way to get melatonin.
Montmorency Tart Cherry is the best natural source of melatonin, with bonus fruit antioxidants that help with sleep in other ways.
Montmorency Tart Cherry supplies a small amount of melatonin — just enough to help encourage sleep onset, with no risk of synthetic megadose side effects the next day.
Researchers have suggested that Montmorency Tart Cherry melatonin may improve both sleep quality and quantity, helping to:10
- Reduce tiredness on waking and throughout the day.
- Promote rested and restored vitality upon waking.
- Reduce number of awakenings experienced overnight.
Beyond melatonin, Montmorency Tart Cherry supplies a complex of fruit antioxidants and amino acids (including our next best sleep supplement, L-Tryptophan) that help with sleep in additional ways:
Joint comfort: Tart cherry flavonoid and anthocynanin antioxidants have a soothing effect that eases joint aches.11,12 This can be helpful for sleep.
Serotonin support: Tryptophan is used to make serotonin: A brain chemical for calm tranquility before sleep.
- Tart cherry has 2X serotonin support: It supplies a little natural tryptophan, and it helps improve tryptophan bioavailability.13
Tart Cherry's comfort benefits work in harmony with its natural melatonin to help you stay asleep the whole night through.
Best Montmorency Tart Cherry for sleep: CherryPURE®
- CherryPURE® is freeze-dried Montmorency Tart Cherry powder concentrated into a highly potent 50:1 extract
- 500 mg CherryPURE® supplies the sleep-enhancing melatonin and fruit antioxidants found in 25 g of Montmorency Tart Cherries.
- CherryPURE® is the only tart cherry product in the dietary supplement market backed by brand-specific human clinical research studies.
Bonus Benefit: Tart Cherry is an effective herbal sleep supplement for muscle growth, muscle recovery and bodybuilding
High quality sleep is essential for athletic muscle recovery and development.
Beyond supporting the hormone melatonin, Montmorency Tart Cherry supports growth hormone — optimizing another key pathway for muscle development and recovery.
In CherryPURE® sport nutrition studies at Texas A&M University, researchers reported 480 mg of freeze-dried tart cherry powder before and after intense strength training helps to:14
- Reduce muscle soreness.
- Reduce markers of muscle damage.
- Enhance muscle recovery.
Protein is another good supplement to take before bedtime if you're an athlete trying to build muscle.
However, don't take protein within one hour of our next best sleep supplement, as its amino acids may interfere with its absorption.
L-Tryptophan is one of the best sleep supplements for sleep and anxiety because it naturally supports sleep-inducing neurotransmitters while reducing the sleep-disruptive effects of daily stress.
L-Tryptophan is an amino acid that is used as a building block for neurotransmitters associated with a relaxed, mood-balanced and sleep-ready mindset, including:
- Melatonin: Tryptophan converts into melatonin in the GI tract15 and also crosses the blood-brain barrier to help the pineal gland's natural melatonin production.16
- Serotonin: Serotonin has sedating effects that help to bring on drowsiness and sleep, in particular boosting slow-wave sleep and possibly REM sleep.17
L-Tryptophan → 5-HTP → Serotonin → Melatonin: L-Tryptophan plays a role in the formation and conversion of important neurotransmitters for calm, tranquil relaxation and deep sleep
If you are stressed out, you're probably not sleeping well.
Certain emotional health concerns, including psychological stress and unbalanced mood, may disrupt sleep patterns.
Poor-quality sleep in turn contributes to daytime irritability and moodiness, which further worsens your sleep quality.
L-Tryptophan is uniquely qualified to break this unhealthy stress-sleepless cycle.
Its neurotransmitter support includes 'feel good' brain chemicals that indirectly help sleep by promoting a bright, positive mood and feelings of calm tranquility.
L-Tryptophan's versatile bioactivities add up to one of the best evidence profiles for natural sleep supplements.
Researchers across standalone studies and reviews have suggested that L-Tryptophan might help overall sleep by:
- Exerting mild sedative effects.18
- Reducing sleep onset latency (the time it takes to fall asleep).19
- Decreasing total wakefulness time and/or increasing total sleep time.20
- Improving sleep quality.21
- Improving sleep conditions, including insomnia and possibly sleep apnea.22
Best L-Tryptophan for sleep: TryptoPure™
- TryptoPure™ is purified L-Tryptophan made by global amino acid innovator Ajinomoto®.
- TryptoPure™ is made using Ferment-A-Pure™ — a patented eco-friendly fermentation process that turns non-GMO, gluten-free vegetables into clean amino acid products.
- Ajinomoto® TryptoPure™ L-Tryptophan is 99% pure, bioavailable and highly effective.
As a sleep supplement, L-Tryptophan stacks well with Montmorency Tart Cherry
Together they supply naturally-occurring sleep neurotransmitters and hormones, acting as a 2X stack for exogenous+endogenous melatonin.
- Supply exogenous melatonin (coming from outside the body).
- Supply the body with substrate required for 5-HTP → Serotonin → Melatonin synthesis and conversion.
- Support endogenous (produced by the body) melatonin synthesis.
- Optimize pineal gland's release of melatonin.
Magnesium plays a role in over 300 biological reactions in the body.
It is particularly known for acting as a cofactor in neurotransmitter synthesis and conversion, as well as for muscle function and central nervous system support.
The problem: Deficiency of magnesium is widespread and highly disruptive to sleep.23
Suboptimal magnesium intake is associated with central nervous system excitability, neuromuscular tension and muscle cramps.
All of these factors make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep:
- Low magnesium intake is associated with insomnia. Researchers suggest that suboptimal magnesium levels may cause agitated sleep and frequent nighttime awakenings.24
Magnesium supplementation can help. It seems to promote good sleep by settling down the nervous system, unwinding muscles and more.
Researchers have suggested magnesium supplements may:
- Correlate with higher blood levels of melatonin.25
- Reduce muscle twitching and to improve muscle cramps.26,27
- Be beneficial for physical and mental stress.28
- Raise gamma-aminobutyric acid [GABA]: A neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation and sleep.29
- Inhibit excitable neurons.30
- Reduce disruptive periodic movement of limbs during sleep (PLMS) and related restless leg issues (RLS).31
All these bioactivities combine into apparent sleep-enhancing benefits.
Magnesium has also been shown in research to help improve:32
- Sleep efficiency.
- Total sleep time.
- Sleep onset latency.
- Waking up too early.
Overall, magnesium is so versatile and effective that it is easily among best sleep supplements.
Especially considering that most adults don't get enough magnesium from diet alone.
Best Magnesium for Sleep
Magnesium in supplement form tends to be hard to absorb. In fact, basic magnesium supplements are only 30%-40% bioavailable.33
That's why it's important to get the best magnesium forms for sleep in order to maximize its nervous system-calming, muscle-relaxing sleep benefits.
Magnesium for sleep must be bioavailable and easy to absorb, first and foremost. Lab-grown and chelated magnesium forms help with bioavailability.
Some forms can also complex magnesium with other sleep-supportive nutrients, enabling greater sleep-supportive versatility.
The best magnesium forms for sleep are:
NutriGenesis® is a clean, eco-friendly form of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that are bioengineered to boost absorption and maximize benefits.
NutriGenesis® Magnesium is cultured on probiotics, so it includes whole-food cofactors that improve bioavailability and utilization of a typically hard-to-absorb mineral.
When magnesium is bound to amino acids, called chelating, it may become easier to absorb.
Magnesium Bisglycinate is a chelated mineral form bound with glycine: Another sleep-supportive amino acid that enables greater magnesium absorption in the intestines.
Glycine is an amino acid that is synthesized by the body. In the CNS, glycine works as an inhibitory neurotransmitter that "settles" excitatory neurons.34
This is believed to help calm the CNS in preparation for sleep.
- Glycine has been shown in research to improve sleep quality and reduce fatigue in people who experience sleeplessness.35
This mineral form binds magnesium with taurine.
Taurine is amino acid that promotes the relaxing and calming brain chemical GABA for additional sleep onset support.
Taurine has been suggested as an amino acid to help you stay asleep, and may even be taken if one awakens in the middle of the night to usher in a quick return to sleep.
As a sleep supplement, Magnesium works particularly well with Montmorency Tart Cherry and L-Tryptophan.
- Magnesium is required for the conversion of L-Tryptophan into serotonin.36
- Optimal magnesium intake is associated with healthy melatonin levels; Low magnesium is associated with decreased melatonin.37
- Magnesium supports GABA, augmenting Tart Cherry + L-Tryptophan serotonin and melatonin support.
Together they help GABA, serotonin and melatonin—a powerful brain chemical cocktail for tranquil drowsiness and deep, restorative sleep.
Best Sleep Supplement of 2020 Overall: Performance Lab® Sleep
Performance Lab® Sleep is a single supplement product that unites all the best sleep supplement ingredients of 2020 in one ultraclean design.
- CherryPURE® Montmorency tart cherry, 500 mg
- TryptoPure™ L-Tryptophan, 250 mg
- Magnesium Complex: NutriGenesis® Magnesium, Magnesium Bisglycinate, Magnesium Taurate, 100 mg
Combining these three ingredients delivers all of the individual and synergistic combo benefits of today's best sleep supplements:
- Gently relaxes the nervous system, musculoskeletal system and brain
- Encourages drowsiness by supporting melatonin and serotonin
- Reduces muscle spasms, aches and involuntary limb movements
- Naturally soothes sleep-disruptive joint aches and stiffness
- Stabilizes circadian rhythm against screentime and irregular rest
- Extends the deepest, most mind-body regenerative phases of sleep
- Helps you wake up rejuvenated, clear-headed and primed to perform
Performance Lab® Sleep is also designed for healthy long-range use.
That means you can support a better night's rest tonight and also reap the bigger overall health benefits associated with healthy sleep patterns over time. Features:
- Safe, natural and non-habit-forming sleep support: No groggy synthetic side effects.
- Ultraclean vegan-friendly NutriCaps®. 100% plant-based, prebiotic-infused capsules made from fermented tapioca.
- Clean label: No additives except for natural NuFlow® Rice to help with flow during encapsulation.
Take Performance Lab® Sleep and get all the best sleep supplements of 2020 in one streamlined stack.
Take it daily to fall asleep faster, extend regenerative sleep phases, and wake up primed to perform.
Performance Lab® Sleep is the Best Sleep Supplement of 2020
In 2020, we need safe, effective sleep aids more than at any point in history.
Due to electronic devices, stress and overstimulation, sleep hormones and relaxation neurotransmitters are increasingly skewed off-balance. Our nervous systems are too amped up and excited, our muscles too wound-up, and our minds too tense to fall asleep.
Insomnia, along with all of its daytime performance-diminishing effects, is at an all-time high.
Complicating matters, many sleep supplements and products on the market are synthetics. They may be packaged with artificial additives, unnatural doses, and other harsh ingredients that don't fit with today's clean and natural lifestyles.
Performance Lab® Sleep is the best product because its ultramodern design conquers today's most disruptive sleep challenges.
Only Performance Lab® Sleep’s innovative multi-pathway design soothes the nervous system, musculoskeletal system and brain at once – helping to encourage sleep onset and extend deep sleep phases.
Beyond improving nightly sleep quality, Performance Lab® Sleep supports circadian rhythm, optimizing your sleep patterns for the best long-range sleep benefits for overall health.
And, unlike other sleep aids, Performance Lab® Sleep is 100% plant-based, clean and premium all the way through.
Take Performance Lab® Sleep to experience the best night's sleep of your life.
Optimize rest for healthy nighttime regeneration, rejuvenate body and mind, and achieve peak daytime performance, across everything you do.