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 epidemic, linked to brain fog, low energy, mood problems, memory issues, poor health and suboptimal performance.
There are many synthetic sleep medicine formulas available to treat sleep problems ranging from occasional sleeplessness in healthy adults to more serious concerns, like chronic insomnia.
But increasingly, consumers are choosing a natural sleep aid that is not only organic in nature, but made with clean ingredients through and through.
To meet today's complex challenges, the best natural sleep aids are now evolving to help and support your rest from many new angles, including:
- Replacing synthetic high-dose melatonin with natural remedies: Low dose cherry melatonin along with a host of beneficial fruit antioxidants.
- 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 for reliable sleep promoting effects; 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 (found in the top-ranked sleep supplement) 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 highest-ranking sleep aid 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 and disrupt circadian rhythm, leading to negative effects such as poor sleep quality, insomnia and other sleep disorders:
Cell phones, tablets, TVs and computers produce artificial light that suppresses melatonin and promotes sleep-disruptive wakefulness.
Night work, caffeine, stress and being overweight have also been linked to disruptions in melatonin production and natural sleep rhythm.
The aging process brings a natural decline in melatonin.
Melatonin supplements are popular for sleep because they 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 sleeping pills help with insufficient sleep by resetting your internal clock, balancing your circadian rhythm and boosting melatonin for a good night's sleep.
In a human research study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, MIT researchers suggested that in people with sleep problems:
Optimal melatonin dosage for restoring sleep efficiency is 0.3 mg
0.3 mg dosage was more effective for restful sleep improvements than 3 mg dose
3 mg dose caused melatonin levels to remain elevated into the next day (daytime drowsiness)
Taken as sleep aids, melatonin supplements work.
However, most so-called natural sleep aids 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 because it's a true natural sleep aid.
Montmorency Tart Cherry is the best natural source of melatonin. It also supplies additional bonus fruit antioxidants that may 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.
Research suggests that Montmorency Tart Cherry melatonin is among the best non prescription sleep aids that may improve sleep quality and quantity, helping to:
- Reduce tiredness on waking and throughout the day.
- Promote rested and restored vitality upon waking.
- Improve subjective sleep quality, in part by reducing the number of awakenings experienced overnight.
Beyond melatonin, Montmorency Tart Cherry supplies a complex of fruit antioxidants and aminos (including our next nutrient for sleep, L-Tryptophan) that help with sleep in additional ways:
Serotonin support: Tryptophan is used to make serotonin: A brain chemical for calm tranquility that precedes enhanced sleep quality.
Tart cherry has 2X serotonin support: It supplies a little natural tryptophan, and it helps improve tryptophan bioavailability.
Tart Cherry's comfort benefits work in harmony with its natural melatonin sleep aid support 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 aid 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:
- 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 sleep aid, because its amino acids may interfere with its absorption.
L-Tryptophan is one of the best natural sleep aids for those with anxiety because it supports drowsiness-inducing neurotransmitters (including 5-HTP and serotonin) while reducing the sleep-disruptive effects of daily stress.
L-Tryptophan is an amino that is used as a building block for neurotransmitters associated with a relaxed, mood-balanced and sleep-ready mindset, including:
Serotonin: Serotonin has sedating effects that help to bring on drowsiness and sleep, in particular boosting slow-wave sleep and possibly REM sleep.
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. Stress and sleep disorder symptoms are closely related.
Certain emotional health concerns, including psychological stress and unbalanced mood, may disrupt your natural sleep wake cycle and lead to sleep disorders.
Poor sleep quality in turn contributes to daytime irritability and moodiness, which further worsens your sleep quality.
L-Tryptophan is an effective sleep aid that is uniquely qualified to break the 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 aids.
Researchers across standalone studies and reviews have suggested that L-Tryptophan might work as an overall sleep aid by:
- Helping to reduce stress
- Exerting mild sedative effects.
- Reducing sleep onset latency (the time it takes to fall asleep).
- Decreasing sleep wake cycle disruptions, as measured by total wakefulness time and/or increasing total sleep time.
- Improved sleep quality.
- Improving sleep conditions, including insomnia and possibly sleep apnea.
Best L-Tryptophan for sleep: TryptoPure™
- TryptoPure™ is purified L-Tryptophan made by global amino 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 products.
- Ajinomoto® TryptoPure™ L-Tryptophan is 99% pure, bioavailable and highly effective.
As a sleep aid, L-Tryptophan stacks well with Montmorency Tart Cherry
Together they supply naturally-occurring sleep neurotransmitters and hormones, acting as a 2X stack for exogenous and endogenous melatonin. Together these natural sleep aids:
- 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
- Regulate pineal gland's melatonin production
Did you know? The National Sleep Foundation has recommended melatonin, highlighting its research-backed sleep promoting benefits for jet lag and delayed sleep-wake phase disorder.
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 CNS support.
The problem: Deficiency of magnesium is widespread and highly disruptive to sleep.
Suboptimal magnesium intake is associated with CNS excitability, neuromuscular tension and muscle cramps.
All of these factors make it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep and get good sleep quality:
Low magnesium intake is associated with insomnia. Researchers suggest that suboptimal magnesium levels may cause negative effects such as agitated sleep and frequent nighttime awakenings.
Magnesium dietary supplements can function as natural sleep aids that help with the struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep. This mineral seems to promote good sleep by settling down the CNS of the body, unwinding muscles and more.
Researchers have suggested magnesium supplementation may:
- Correlate with higher blood levels of melatonin.
- Reduce muscle twitching and to improve muscle cramps.
- Be beneficial for physical and mental stress.
- Raise gamma-aminobutyric acid [GABA]: A sleep promoting neurotransmitter associated with feelings of relaxation.
- Inhibit excitable neurons throughout the entire human body.
- Reduce disruptive periodic movement of limbs during sleep (PLMS) and related restless legs syndrome issues (RLS).
All these bioactivities combine into apparent sleep-enhancing benefits.
Magnesium has also been shown in research to work as an effective natural sleep aid, with some evidence showing that it helps to improve:
- Sleep efficiency
- Total sleep time
- Sleep onset latency
- Waking up too early
Overall, magnesium is so versatile and effective that it is easily among the top natural sleep aids being used today.
Especially considering that most adults don't get enough magnesium from diet alone.
Older adults are especially vulnerable to suboptimal magnesium levels, as their absorption of magnesium (and other nutrients) tends to decline during the aging process.
Best Magnesium for Sleep
Even if you're not among the older adults crowd (yet), magnesium in supplement form tends to be hard to absorb. In fact, basic magnesium supplements are only 30%-40% bioavailable.
That's why it's important to get the best magnesium forms to support 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 of a typically hard-to-absorb mineral -- maximizing its natural sleep aid benefits.
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.
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.
This mineral form binds magnesium with taurine. Taurine is an 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. In other words, in helps with improving sleep quality from several angles.
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.
- Optimal magnesium intake is associated with healthy melatonin levels; Low magnesium is associated with decreased melatonin.
- Magnesium supports GABA, augmenting Tart Cherry + L-Tryptophan serotonin and melatonin support.
Together these natural sleep aid nutrients help to optimize GABA, serotonin and melatonin -- adding up to a powerful brain chemical cocktail for tranquil drowsiness and deep, restorative sleep.
Are natural sleep aids safe?
There are many natural sleep aids on the market. They include ancient remedies like valerian root that have been used to promote sleep for centuries. They also include more recent advancements that make natural support even more effective.
Best Sleep Supplement Overall: Performance Lab® Sleep
Performance Lab® Sleep is a single natural sleep aid formula that unites all the greatest ingredients for sleep into 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 most advanced sleep supplements:
- Gently relaxes the central nervous system (CNS), musculoskeletal system and brain
- Fall asleep faster. Encourages drowsiness with melatonin, 5-htp and serotonin
- Reduces muscle spasms, aches and involuntary limb movements in the body
- Helps improve sleep quality by soothing away joint aches and stiffness
- Stabilizes circadian patterns against screen time and irregular rest
- Extends the deepest, most mind-body regenerative phases of sleep
- Helps you wake up in the morning rejuvenated, clear-headed and primed to perform
- Maintains healthier sleep patterns when challenged with jet lag
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, natural sleep patterns over time.
Performance Lab® Sleep Product Features:
Safe, natural and non-habit-forming sleep support: No groggy synthetic side effects associated with typical OTC sleep medicine products.
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 most effective sleep supplements in one streamlined stack.
Take it daily to fall asleep faster, improve sleep patterns, extend regenerative sleep phases, and wake up in the morning primed to perform.
Performance Lab® Sleep is the Best Sleep formula you can buy.
This year, we need safe, effective, and high quality sleep aids more than at any point in history.
Due to electronic devices, stress and overstimulation, sleep hormones and relaxation neurotransmitters are increasingly skewed. Our nervous systems are too amped up and excited, our muscles too wound-up, and our minds too tense to fall asleep.
Insufficient sleep in turn leads to increased risk of a wide range of health problems. Not to mention performance limiting drawbacks.
Primary insomnia, along with all of its daytime performance-diminishing effects, is at an all-time high.
And that's just one sleep disorder that we have to contend with.
There are many synthetic sleep medicine formulas you can get via prescription and over the counter drugs. These many options can muddy the waters.
Complicating matters, certain natural sleep aids are not as natural as they may seem. In fact, the market is dominated by synthetics.
Even natural sleep aids by appearance 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 CNS, 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 wellness, optimizing your sleep patterns for improved sleep quality and overall health.
And, unlike other natural sleep remedies, Performance Lab® Sleep is 100% plant-based, clean and premium all the way through.
It is the perfect formula for all performance-driven, complementary and integrative health practices.
Natural sleep supplements work best with a sleep-healthy lifestyle. Some tips to consider:
Healthy sleep habits should be the starting point of any sleep improvement regiment. For example, going to bed at the same time each night, making your bedroom comfortable and quiet, and making bedtime a consistent ritual and priority in your life.
Inhalation or diffusion of essential oils can be soothing. Lavender, bergamot, chamomile and ylang ylang are some popular natural sleep aid options in the aromatherapy category. Even sprinkling a few drops of lavender on your pillow can have soothing effects that promote relaxation and sleep.
This is a no-brainer, but sometimes it seems our love for caffeine is prioritized over our love for a good night's sleep. Those who cannot quit caffeine altogether may still reduce related sleep disruptions by moderating their usage.
Check out the next generation of caffeine pills below, which are designed to reduce the negative sleep impact of caffeine pills.
Avoid blue light
Blue light that is emitted from various electronic devices can interfere with healthy sleep patterns. Just be sure to limit your use, especially in the hour before you plan to go to sleep.
Regular physical activity can have a huge positive impact on sleep quality. Researchers have proposed a synergistic effect: Sleep maximizes exercise performance, which in turn improves sleep quality, which in turn boosts recovery, for greater performance in your next session.
Don't eat late at night
Eating various foods, along with certain drinks, too soon to bedtime can lead to heartburn and digestive distress that make it very difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. One simple change to make in your sleep hygiene regimen is to simply stop eating in the evening time, from 5-7 pm or so.
Just imagine those familiar sleepy sensations.
You feel lowering body temperature and blood pressure as they drop slightly and gently to initiate sleep. Your mind follows. Anxieties and stressors of the day lift and float away.
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.
You can support sleep directly by taking Performance Lab® Sleep.
You can also support sleep indirectly by avoiding caffeine. But if you just can't give up that wonderful a.m. buzz, you can take your caffeine use into the next generation with Performance Lab Caffeine+.
Bonus: Performance Lab® Caffeine+ - Cleaner Stim, Less Sleep-Disrupting Side Effects
Performance Lab® Caffeine+ is a next-generation caffeine pill that is carefully formulated for cleaner, healthier stimulation. That includes reduced sleep-disrupting side effects.
Are you a coffee drinker? Powerful caffeine-driven energy drinks? Or perhaps tea is your tonic. No matter what your preferred form is, you probably enjoy caffeine. Either daily like clockwork, or once in a while.
For those who choose to consume caffeine, sleep disruptions can be a major side effect. You don't want to give up all those performance-enhancing caffeine benefits, so what can you do?
Taking Performance Lab® Caffeine+ is a way to get all of caffeine's benefits with far less concern for its potential to ruin a good night's sleep.
Performance Lab® Caffeine+ ingredients include:
Natural & pure Caffeine, 50 mg - a basic, precision-dosed serving of good, clean caffeine. Gives a big advantage because you can "fine tune" your caffeine dosage, finding just the right dose for stimulation without risk of sleep-disruptive side effects
Suntheanine® L-Theanine, 100 mg - stacks beautifully with Performance Lab Sleep L-Tryptophan for 2x soothing brain chemical support
Ajipure® L-Tyrosine, 250 mg - non essential amino acid for brain chemical recovery
NutriGenesis® Caffeine Balance B-Complex - because these B vitamins can be depleted from the body by use of coffee and caffeinated drinks
Performance Lab® Caffeine+ is designed for:
- Improved caffeine dosing precision
- Fewer caffeine side effects, including those related to insomnia and generally poor sleep
- Easier recovery from the stimulant experience
- An overall better stimulation state for performance, both mental and physical
Performance-enhanced caffeine benefits
Performance Lab® Caffeine+'s across-the-board caffeine pill enhancements add up to a uniquely stimulating experience, that won't disrupt sleep the way typical coffee will.
- Clean caffeine enhanced for brainpower, athletics, fat burning and more
- Highly effective for cognitive performance through all stressors, including physical and mental tiredness
- Its L-Theanine boosts Alpha brainwaves to smooth out caffeine energy. L-Theanine is also associated with relaxation, creativity and clarity, and research suggests it may help promote healthy sleep, too
- Helps reduce jitters, crashes and other negative effects of caffeine overstimulation, instead has a smooth come-down that won't leave you all amped-up when you're trying to sleep.