Looking for the most effective, science-backed supplements for deep sleep? Then you’ve come to the right place, as you’re about to learn the most effective sleep supplements that will help you get to sleep faster and sleep deeper during the night. Sleep is critical for energy levels, and yet, for people with disturbed sleep, it can be a jungle when you are looking to find out which are the best supplements to help sleep through the night. If you’re looking for insomnia supplements or supplements that help you sleep deep and restfully each night, then you’re in luck because, in this post, we have gathered the top 12 natural sleep supplements.
Deep, Restful Sleep Is Vital For Achieving Maximum Energy
Without deep, long periods of 8-9 hours of healthy, restorative sleep on a regular basis, we will accelerate the aging process, slow the metabolism, impair physical and mental performance, weaken the immune system, and predispose ourselves to a long list of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and chronic fatigue. 
During sleep, we recharge the body and mind, repairing the body at a cellular level and performing all kinds of crucial healing functions in the body from repairing muscles, to burning fat, to releasing important hormones, and all kinds of crucial actions that are important for the health of the mind and body.
The trouble is, not enough of us are getting really good, rejuvenating reparative sleep anymore.
In fact, 60-70 million Americans and 1 in 3 individuals worldwide suffer with mild to severe insomnia.  Sleep problems have become an epidemic.
Why We Often Need Supplements To Help Sleep Through The Night
This is largely due to our faced paced, technology-saturated lifestyle which takes a huge toll on our circadian rhythms. Too much blue light, inadequate sunlight exposure, late workouts, stress, hormone disruption from environmental toxins, aging, and even your chronotype (whether you are a lark or night owl), all of it takes a toll, making it difficult for us to become sleepy when we should be—before bed, or when we’re truly exhausted from a long night on the computer working. 
If you want to know more about your chronotype and how that can influence on your sleep, go check out the podcast Why Your Chronotype and Circadian Rhythm Can Wreck Energy with Dr. Michael Breus, the sleep doctor.
Why Over-The-Counter Sleep Medications Are Bad For Your Health, Compared to Natural Sleep Supplements
If you’ve tried common over-the-counter sleep medications like all the PMs and Nyquil, you’ll notice they not only stop working quite quickly, they also have the complete opposite effect upon you within 48 – 72 hours of subsequent dosing.
In fact, anti-histamine sleep aids like those can cause more rather than less sleeplessness after used for a time. This is because anti-histamines have anticholinergic effects–-meaning they block the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, thus preventing us from feeling “wakeful” and alert—not actually making us sleepy but preventing wakefulness and energy, which will quite negatively impact our energy levels the day after we take it. 
The problem is that acetylcholine is also the chief neurotransmitter that gives us cognitive performance and energy as well, which is why even those these might help you fall asleep on occasion, you won’t feel 100% after taking them.
Plus, in 2015, as you might have heard, researchers found a significant link between chronic use of anti-histamine medicines and sleep aids, including Benadryl, and increased risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in older people. 
Why You Shouldn’t Use Prescription Sleep Meds
Let’s get one thing out of the way: Prescription sleep meds can be useful when used for a short period of time to re-establish sleep. And if your doctor has explicitly told you that you must be on sleeping pills due to a particular condition, please follow their orders.
But in general, most people are making a terrible mistake by going on sleeping meds. Here’s why:
These drugs are not specific to the sleep centers of the brain – they affect many aspects on your nervous system and organ systems. And do so in potentially negative ways. According to Patrick Fuller, MD, a neurologist at Harvard Medical School: “They’re not this cute little thing that comes in and targets a little cell in your brain that’s just all involved in sleep. These drugs are not that specific; they affect not just the brain, but the peripheral systems as well.” 
And that’s why they all have very significant side effects. According to Drugs.com, Ambien (which is the most popular sleep drug these days) has common side effects that include drowsiness, headaches, nasal congestion, memory loss, muscle aches, double vision, diarrhea, swollen lymph nodes, voice changes, forgetfulness, belching, body aches, among others. 
Note: Women take longer to metabolize Ambien than men, and thus are more likely to suffer side effects the following day.
Why Herbal Remedies For Insomnia Are Better For Your Health
Sleeping pills are also highly addictive (and many cause you to build up a tolerance). Because of this, it’s extremely common for people to get stuck taking them because their body just won’t let them ween off. (And after you get off, for many people, sleep problems are often worse than they were before taking the meds).
According to Marc Leavey, MD, “At a certain point, you won’t be able to fall asleep without them. Of course, with benzos (e.g., Xanax), you get used to them — you’re addicted — so you’ll have to bump up the dose to get the same effect, and then you have increased problems as time goes on.” 
There is also a potential link between sleeping pill use and cancer, and one study published in the British Medical Journal found that people who took prescription sleeping pills were significantly more likely to get cancer.  Other research has linked their use to debilitating falls, susceptibility to infections, dementia, and heart attacks.
Sleep researcher Shawn Youngstedt, Ph.D., sums all this up with a troubling comment: “Sleeping pills are extremely hazardous. They are as bad as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.” 
The Most Effective Natural Herbs and Supplements To Help Sleep Through The Night
Natural sleep supplements, such as vitamins, minerals, and healthy herbs can help us to stimulate the calming and drowsy sleep receptors in the brain—helping to prepare us for a night of deep rejuvenating sleep that restores energy and enhances mental and physical performance, not inhibit it the following day.
These kinds of supplements can actually help you get your circadian rhythms regulated, allowing you to maximize your daytime energy levels and enhance performance in all you do.
Let’s talk about the best, proven sleep supplements.
In humans, 5-HTP is the immediate nutrient precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT) and it converts into serotonin in the brain. Your body uses tryptophan to manufacture 5-HTP, which is part of the reason for all the mythology about turkey making you sleepy from all the tryptophan. Serotonin is, of course, profoundly important for sleep and mood, as well as learning, sexual behavior, and hormone regulation among its many other roles in the human body.
One reason 5-HTP is such a good supplement for sleep is that it helps replenish the serotonin we naturally lose as we age. So, 5 HTP can help alleviate serotonin deficiencies as we age and help manufacture new serotonin as well.
Serotonin also helps us to manufacture melatonin, which is vitally important for sleep and is the chief hormone that controls our wake-sleep cycle. In several studies, 5-HTP has been shown to be beneficial in treating insomnia, especially in improving sleep quality by increasing REM sleep.  The research is clear that 5-HTP is one of the best sleep supplements.
GABA (gamma butyric acid) is a naturally occurring chemical compound produced in the brain that helps to calm the excitability of neurons. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain which has suppressive effects upon the excitatory neurotransmitters norepinephrine and glutamate. And it’s one the top sleep supplements.
GABA is also intimately tied to the parasympathetic nerve system, which is our “rest and digest” system – the polar opposite of our sympathetic nervous system’s fight or flight mechanisms in the body.
People who have chronic sleep problems typically have GABA levels that are 30% below normal, as do people with mood disorders, like depression, which are tied to insomnia as well. 
GABA helps to activate calming neurotransmitters in the brain helping us to get naturally sleepy. As an added bonus, GABA can also help relieve anxiety and relax the body and muscles as well. Users say taking GABA at night helps them feel very calm, drowsy, and ready for a good, long night of sleep.
- In a study at UCLA School of Medicine of 18 people with sleep disorders, individuals who were given a GABA supplement were able to fall asleep in almost half the time it took those taking placebos and increased their time spent sleeping by approximately 73%. Before supplementation, the duration of their sleep was about 5 hours, and after supplementation, it increased to about 6.83 hours. There was virtually no change in the placebo group. 
- Recently, researchers found that natural GABA has various sleep-improving effects. The researchers measured brain waves using electroencephalography (EEG) after participants took 100 milligrams (mg) of natural GABA or placebo.  Those who took GABA fell asleep faster and had longer quality sleep time. They also experienced enhanced periods of REM sleep and reported feeling more energized in the morning.
- In a 2013 study on elderly men with frequent night urination, GABA proved to enhance sleep length, quality, while helping them wake up feeling less groggy in the mornings and greatly curbing nighttime urination. 
GABA is one of the best natural sleep supplements around for helping you get truly restorative sleep.
GABA + 5-HTP Together
When combined with 5-HTP GABA has proven effects of improving sleep quality and sleep duration as well. In fact, a new paper published in Life Sciences reports that a combination of GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid) and 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) improved sleep and sleep duration more than the use of either of the two amino acids alone.
Although this study was conducted upon fruit flies, the results are significant as these flies are often used in scientific studies because, as these researchers note, “Homeostatic and circadian regulation in Drosophila are comparable to findings from mammalian sleep research.”
The reasons why these supplements work so well synergistically is because insomnia is a product of both low GABA and low serotonin levels in the brain, and when combined, these supplements boost both, greatly enhancing serotonin, GABA, and tryptophan production in the brain, helping you to get to sleep fast and deeply. 
L-theanine is one of the most amazing sleep supplements. L-theanine is an amino acid that is found in abundance in some teas, especially green tea. What L-theanine does is to increase alpha wave activity in the brain, mimicking brain waves during deep sleep phases. Because of this, L-theanine increases the production of dopamine, serotonin, and GABA, which all promote sleep and elevate mood.
- In a recent study of young males with ADHD, L-theanine improved sleep quality and length of time spent sleeping, and typically, all children with ADHD have much trouble sleeping. They also reported feeling more refreshed after sleep, that they had fewer nightmares, decreased anxiety and more relaxation at bedtime, and more energy throughout the following day as well. 
- One great asset of L-theanine is that it does not cause grogginess or become addictive over time, as most sleep aids do. L-theanine has also been found to counteract the effects of caffeine (in studies with rats, to note) and promote sleep even when excessive caffeine is in the system. 
- In another recent study, l-theanine helped subjects with major depressive disorder to get more restful sleep, and also produced positive effects like reducing anxiety and elevating mood. 
4. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B-6 converts a small amount of the tryptophan in your body to niacin, or vitamin B3, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep patterns. By failing to obtain an adequate amount of vitamin B6 in your diet, your body’s metabolism of tryptophan may be disturbed. This may limit the amount of serotonin in your body, potentially leading to disturbed sleep patterns and insomnia. A deficiency in B6 will cause insomnia and difficulty sleeping. 
B6 has proven to stimulate the brain during sleep phases of REM, and individuals often say it gives them more vivid dreams. 
Melatonin is best known as a natural cure for jet lag. However, many studies have shown it to be very effective for insomnia — it is one of the absolute most effective sleep supplements. In a 1996 study on 15 healthy, middle aged men and women, just 1.0 mg of melatonin proved to enhance many aspects of sleep including:
- Actual total sleep time
- Sleep efficiency
- Non-REM Sleep
- REM Sleep Latency (how fast you get into deep sleep) 
In a 2005 meta-analysis of 17 studies on the efficacy of melatonin supplementation on individuals with insomnia and other sleep disorders, researchers found overwhelming that melatonin is a highly effective sleep supplement. As the researchers explain,
“A meta-analysis essentially tells ‘yes’ or ‘no’–that a treatment does or does not have a significant effect,” Wurtman said. “When a meta-analysis says ‘yes,’ there should no longer be any controversy about whether the treatment works.”
The melatonin meta-analysis delivered a definitive “yes.” 
In a more recent 2008 study, 5 mg of melatonin taken daily, helped shift-work nurses fall asleep more easily as well. In fact, melatonin is particularly effective helping people to fall asleep who typically have trouble falling asleep. 
But if you take melatonin, it’s important to be mindful of the dose, as it’s important to not overdo it.
6. Passion Flower
Passion flower is a popular supplement and tea that has been found very effective for helping to relieve both anxiety and insomnia. What passion flower does is to boost the level of sleep promoting GABA in the brain. Passion flower also helps to quiet brain activity, helping individuals relax, quiet the mind, and sleep better. In a 2004 study of 40 individuals with insomnia, passion flower proved to enhance sleep significantly more than the placebo. 
It has also been found to be highly effective for relieving anxiety, depression, and insomnia in women going through menopause. 
7. Kava Kava
Kava kava has been consumed by peoples of the South Pacific islands for hundreds of years, but is now becoming more popular in the West, as people have discovered that it has many of the same effects of alcohol, but potentially without many of the unwanted side effects of alcohol use. (There are even kava bars springing up in the U.S.!) It’s also one of the best sleep supplements. Kava use has been shown to be helpful with:
- Mood elevation. 
- Decreased feelings of stress and anxiety. One study found that it significantly reduced anxiety-related symptoms within just one week of use. And a review of 11 studies found that kava was indeed effective in reducing anxiety. Some studies have even found that kava may be as effective as some prescription anti-anxiety medications. Kava is best used at night though, as it can dull alertness and cognitive performance.   
- Improved sleep. Studies have shown that kava can improve the time it takes to fall asleep and have benefits on the quality of the sleep.  
There is one potential drawback of kava consumption that still requires more research. Some studies have linked kava consumption with liver toxicity. Several countries have taken the pre-emptive step of taking kava off the market to be cautious, and even though it’s still available in the U.S., the FDA issued a statement regarding the “rare” potential for liver failure. Again, more research is needed to confirm whether kava is indeed toxic to the liver or not, but in the mean time, if you do use it, perhaps it’s best not to use it in high doses or for long periods of time. And if you already have poor liver function, it’s probably wise to avoid this one altogether.
8. CBD Oil
Cannabidiol—CBD—is a non-psychoactive extract from cannabis plants (marijuana or hemp) that does not make one “stoned” but has many medicinal benefits. A rapidly accumulating body of scientific research now shows that CBD has benefits for conditions ranging from migraines to arthritis, to diabetes, to brain trauma, to PTSD, to anxiety, to cancer.  But it’s also one of the best sleep supplements.
It also has an excellent safety profile. And, for our purposes here, there is also research showing that it may enhance sleep.  (The only issue with CBD is that the research that used CBD for sleep enhancement used high doses, which can be quite expensive for many people).
9. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is an amazing herb. It has so many science-backed benefits that it’s becoming hard to keep track of them all. Traditionally, lemon balm has been used to treat anxiety, but it’s also one of the best sleep supplements. Here are some of the benefits of lemon balm:
- It’s particularly effective for easing hyperactivity in children
- Studies have also shown that it also enhances mood 
- It has also been shown to decrease vigilant alertness, feelings of stress, subjective feelings of tension and anxiety, and decreased fatigue due to stress, while also increasing calmness. 
- It’s also been found to significantly reduce insomnia, even for women during menopause. 
Valerian root has been found to be a highly effective sleep aid supplement for persons with insomnia and other sleep disorders.
In one recent double-blind study, valerian was found to yield nights of perfect sleep for 44% of participants and improved sleep for 89% of participants. 
Valerian And Lemon Balm Combination
Valerian root combined with lemon balm has proven to be highly effective in treating insomnia, more effective than either herb used alone. In a recent study of children with sleep problems, 81% of those who took an herbal combination of valerian and lemon balm reported sleeping much better than those who took a placebo. 
Magnesium is involved in more than 300 metabolic reactions. It is essential for bone strength, a strong immune system, muscle contractions and a healthy nervous system, and it’s one of the best sleep supplements. Magnesium deficiency can result in neural over-excitation causing anxiety and restlessness and excess physical tension, insulin resistance, increased blood pressure, fatigue, irritability, poor cognitive function, lethargy, and sleep problems. It’s important to note that magnesium deficiency is very common in the U.S. and the many other developed countries. And there is indeed research showing that magnesium supplementation can improve sleep significantly.
One study published in the journal of Pharmacopsychiatry measured hormonal and electrical changes in the brain of older persons during sleep and found that magnesium supplementation improved both hormonal and electrical patterns in the brain during sleep. 
Chamomile has long been revered for enhancing relaxation and promoting sleep. Chamomile is rich in a flavonoid called apigenin that binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain.
- In a recent 2016 study, women with postpartum depression who supplemented with chamomile experienced improved sleep and alleviated depression as well. 
- Another double-blind study revealed that chamomile can help users moderately improve many aspects of sleep latency, night time awakenings, daytime functioning, and fatigue severity. 
Why These 12 Are The Best Sleep Supplements
Many of the supplements I’ve listed here have a highly synergistic effect. What’s important is you no longer have to rely on anti-histamine sleep aids and other prescription drugs to get sleepy at night to fall asleep more quickly or to stay asleep through the night. When you consider the overall effectiveness of the compound, plus the potential for side effects, going the route of using these compounds over prescription and over-the-counter drug-based sleep aids is an easy decision. Many people find that these natural supplements actually work better, and allow you to wake up refreshed, rejuvenated, and healthier (as opposed to the inevitable side effects from using drug-based sleep aids).
Below you’ll find links to my top choices of where to get each of these compounds (if you wish to buy them separately). But if you’d like to do things in a much more efficient and effective way, I highly recommend our “Sleep Fuel” supplement, which combines most of these ingredients into a single supplement. That way you get all the benefits in a cost-effective way, and without having to fiddle around with 10 different containers of pills, tinctures, and powders. Sleep Fuel gets amazing reviews from our members, and for good reason — it’s packed with the most effective science-backed natural ingredients to help you get to sleep faster and sleep deeper, while protecting and even benefitting your health (unlike potentially risky sleep meds).
I’ve put all these vitamins, herbs, and supplements into a convenient sleep supplement for deep sleep that combines the perfect dosage and combination of these herbs yield the best sleep you’ve ever experienced. You can get it here.
If you wish to purchase each of these supplements separately, here are the links to my recommended brands for each supplement:
- GABA (PharmaGABA is best)
- Vitamin B6
- Lemon Balm
- Passion Flower
- Magnesium (glycinate or orotate are best choices, not the typical citrate)
There you have it — the top 12 natural science-backed sleep supplements. Now you are armed with the knowledge to take your sleep to new depths and your energy to new heights.