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Sleep Vitamins: What To Take Instead of Sleeping Pills

    Sleep Vitamins: What To Take Instead of Sleeping Pills

    If you’re experiencing difficulty falling or staying asleep, you’re not alone. Worldwide, millions of people have insomnia and many of them sometimes resort to sleeping pills to get the much-needed shuteye. However, sleep aids shouldn’t be a long-term solution because they might lead to side effects and dependence. For this reason, a lot of people turn to sleep vitamins or supplements that contain ingredients capable of helping with sleep problems.

    If you’re considering taking sleep vitamins, keep the following ingredients in mind. Also, please note that most supplements that promote sleep combine two or more of these ingredients:

    #1 – Valerian Root¹, ²

    Most sleep vitamins contain Valerian root, a tall grass plant native to Asia and Europe.

    Many studies already noted that extracts of Valerian root help patients sleep faster and better. In fact, one report said patients who took Valerian had an 80% chance of reporting improved sleep compared to those who took the placebo. People also noted that Valerian root caused less “hangovers.”

    Still, there are studies with inconclusive results and those that indicate Valerian has no significant effect.

    #2 – Passion Flower³, ⁴

    Many sleep vitamins that contain Valerian root extract also have Passion flower.

    In multiple animal and human studies, Passion flower exhibited great potential in improving sleep quality.

    For instance, research aiming to compare the effects of two teas (parsley and Passion flower) showed that participants who drank Passion flower tea one hour before bedtime for about a week reported experiencing slightly better sleep than those who took parsley tea.

    #3 – Hops⁵

    At times, sleep vitamins don’t just have Valerian root and Passion flower, they also contain Hops.

    Hops (Humulus lupulus) have sedative properties due to their bitter resin. It is also a common component of beer.

    One report concluded that 2mg of Hops reduced nocturnal activity. The researchers even recommended the administration of non-alcoholic beer to aid in nocturnal sleep.

    #4 – Lavender⁶

    Of course, let’s not forget lavender. To date, numerous studies have already pointed out that lavender can help people with sleep troubles. One report, in particular, mentioned that lavender “is an excellent natural remedy to treat insomnia and improve sleep.”

    #5 – Magnesium⁷

    Interestingly, some people take magnesium pills as their sleep vitamins. According to experts, magnesium helps the body relax, allowing you to sleep longer.

    The best way to get magnesium is through a healthy and balanced diet. However, since a lot of people do not get adequate amounts of this mineral, they resort to magnesium supplements.

    As for sleep, magnesium is sometimes paired with melatonin, a hormone that might help you sleep faster.

    #6 – GABA and L-Theanine⁸

    The activation of the neurotransmitter, Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA), favors sleep. L-theanine, on the other hand, is an amino acid that promotes relaxation.

    Studies show that taking a combination of GABA and L-theanine improves sleep quality and duration.

    #7 – Melatonin

    Finally, we have one of the most common ingredients in sleep vitamins: melatonin.

    Melatonin is a hormone the brain releases at night. It is known to control the sleep-wake cycle. Basically, the more melatonin you have, the faster you’ll fall asleep.


    Before taking any sleep vitamins, please consult your doctor first, especially if you have an underlying condition or are taking other medicines. This is to reduce the risk of drug interactions. Likewise, please remember that even herbs may lead to side effects.

    While GABA and L-theanine, Magnesium, and Melatonin are mostly available in pills, Lavender, Hops, Passion Flower, and Valerian root also come in tea preparations.

    Generally, you need to take sleep vitamins an hour or two before retiring to bed. There are also limits to how much you can consume.

    Learn more about Healthy Eating here.


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    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


    1. Valerian: A safe and effective herbal sleep aid?, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/valerian/faq-20057875, Accessed January 12, 2022

    2. Valerian for Sleep: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4394901/, Accessed January 12, 2022

    3. Effect of a medicinal plant (Passiflora incarnata L) on sleep, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5699852/, Accessed January 12, 2022

    4. A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21294203/, Accessed January 12, 2022

    5. The sedative effects of hops (Humulus lupulus), a component of beer, on the activity/rest rhythm, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22849837/, Accessed January 12, 2022

    6. Lavender and the Nervous System, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612440/, Accessed January 12, 2022

    7. How Magnesium Can Help You Sleep, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/magnesium, Accessed January 12, 2022

    8. GABA and l-theanine mixture decreases sleep latency and improves NREM sleep, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30707852/, Accessed January 12, 2022

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    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated May 11
    Expertly reviewed by Chris Icamen
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