I’m a nutritionist – here are 13 supplements to help you sleep better
SLEEP, the glue that holds us together. Without it, we often feel groggy, unproductive, and rather glum.
Despite how important sleep is to our overall health and well-being, the results of a Stada UK study found that UK adults actually sleep worse than the rest of Europe! But why?
More than a third of Britons say anxious thoughts keep them awake, with one in four adults blaming money worries.
But, we’re on a mission to sort out the UK’s sleep and it looks like half of Britons are on board, as over 50% would consider using sleeping pills to help improve their sleep.
So what about sleep aids?
We’ve unearthed the latest and greatest bedtime additions with the expertise of nutritionist Gail Madalena…
1. For no-frills sleep
Kalms Night One-A-Night 21 tablets, £5, Tesco
Valerian is the main ingredient of this herbal medicine.
“Valerian is frequently used to relieve insomnia.
“It is believed to increase levels of a chemical known as GABA in the brain, which contributes to a calming effect in the body, which may help you fall asleep naturally,” says Gail.
Take one tablet one hour before touching the pillow.
2. For drinks before bedtime
Dirtea Mushroom Super Cocoa Mix, £39.99
Containing Reishi mushroom, this blend is said to help prepare the body for sleep.
According to Dirtea, Reishi “helps improve sleep quality by relaxing the nervous system, releasing serotonin and GABA which have soothing effects on the brain and it also regulates levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which helps promote healthier sleep habits.”
Additionally, Gail says the cocoa in this blend contains serotonin and tryptophan, which may promote better sleep because they stimulate production of the sleep hormone melatonin, which regulates your sleep/wake cycle.
“Reishi and ashwagandha are adaptogens, meaning they have the ability to down-regulate our stress response by lowering cortisol levels and promoting feelings of calm,” Gail explains.
“Coconut milk contains high levels of magnesium and potassium, two minerals that have a relaxing effect on muscles.
“It also contains vitamin B which can modulate stress levels and higher levels of saturated fat, which is more satiating, leading to drowsiness.”
3. To clear the airways
Xlear Nasal Spray 45ml, £12.99, Amazon
Filled with a drug-free formula, Xlear was designed to clear the airways so you can breathe through your nose while you sleep.
Sleeping with a snoring partner? Put this on their bedside table…
4. For bathing bliss
Dr Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Soothe & Sleep with Lavender 1.36kg, £8.50, Boots
A bath before bedtime has been found to aid sleep.
Studies have shown how the warmth of water can help you fall asleep peacefully.
Fill the tub with Dr Teal’s to help calm your body and mind before bed.
5. For a touch of calm
Re: Nourish +CALM, £13.99 for 30 sachets
Filled with an abundance of sleepy ingredients, add one sachet to your bedtime drink.
“Chamomile is known to have a mild sedative quality and therefore may aid sleep,” says Gail.
Valerian root, passion flower, lemon balm and echinacea improve sleep quality and can relieve anxiety, she adds.
This can cause you to fall asleep faster.
Plus, acerola cherries are packed with powerful phytonutrients, which help your body prevent the harmful side effects of oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress can be caused by external factors such as smoking, pollution and chemicals.
“Vitamin B12 plays a role in the production of melatonin, a key hormone that helps regulate our circadian rhythm AKA our sleep/wake cycle. It also plays a key role in energy production,” adds Gail.
6. For juice lovers
B.fresh SLEEP juice shot, £19 for 7 shots
A mini but potent blend of fruit along with L-tryptophan, which may lead to reduced anxiety levels and increased feelings of sleepiness.
“Kiwi, apple, cherry and orange are all high in vitamins and minerals,” Gail explains, “including vitamins C and E which are natural antioxidants that can reduce the effects of oxidative stress and regulate blood pressure. lowers our response to stress.
The tart cherry in particular contains melatonin, the body’s natural sleep hormone, according to one study.
“Honey may promote the formation of melatonin due to its tryptophan content, which may help initiate sleep and promote the release of hormones that aid in full-body recovery during sleep,” says Gail.
7. To fall asleep peacefully
Starpowa Snooze gummies, £19.99 for 30, Holland & Barrett
Formulated for restful sleep, these delicious black cherry flavored gummies contain 5-HTP, L-Theanine, Chamomile and Lavender (to name a few ingredients), plus less than 0.1g of sugar per jelly.
L-theanine has been shown to have an effect on chemicals in the brain that affect our mood and sleep as well as stress levels.
8. For a natural sleep…
Pukka Night Capsules, £7.45 for 30 capsules, Lloyds Pharmacy
This herbal supplement contains a natural blend of valerian, ashwagandha, and gotu kola (an herb in the parsley family), to help restore healthy, undisturbed sleep patterns without drowsiness the next day.
“As adaptogens, ashwagandha, gotu kola, and valerian have properties that can improve endocrine and nervous system function,” Gail explains.
The endocrine system helps make hormones in the body.
“These ingredients also act as anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.
“These can help people fall asleep faster, spend more time sleeping, and experience better quality sleep.
“Plus, they’ve been shown to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, which can fuel insomnia.”
9. For a total explosion
LYMA supplement, £149 per month
The crème de la crème of supplements.
It’s extortionate, for sure, and something we probably won’t splash on.
But if you happen to have spare funds and want to invest in the monthly fee, expect a slew of fancy ingredients, including Levagen+, the star of the show in LYMA’s formula.
It has been proven in the Journal of Sleep Science Practice to help people fall asleep three times faster than a placebo.
“Levagen+ contains fatty acids, as well as curcumin (the active form of turmeric) which are both powerful anti-inflammatories,” says Gail.
“This supplement also contains adaptogenic ashwagandha and nootropics that can help with energy production and feelings of rejuvenation after sleep.”
10. For pre-coat erasers
Nourish The Sleep Tight Stack, £37.99 per month
Greedy? Nourish has released a “stack” of soft ingredients that are smooth and plush enough to help promote sleep.
Gail explains that the amino acid 5-HTP in this supplement is the precursor to serotonin, our “happiness hormone,” and therefore increases its production in the body.
“When serotonin is introduced in the dark, it becomes melatonin, our sleep hormone.
“More melatonin makes us sleepy and encourages us to fall asleep more easily.”
She adds, “Vitamin D3 is also involved in melatonin production pathways, which help regulate circadian rhythms and overall sleep quality.
“Zinc has also been shown to benefit sleep, causing fewer nighttime awakenings and having calming and antidepressant effects.”
Oh, and these taste great too!
11. For the Modern Age of Sleep
Dragonfly CBD 500mg, £19.50 for 10ml, Boots
CBD (cannabidiol) has been making big waves on the sleep scene in recent years.
Although CBD research is still ongoing, studies have shown it to be beneficial for the treatment of insomnia.
It may take a few nights to find the right dose for you.
Start with a full pipette held under the tongue for two minutes, about 20 minutes before bedtime.
12. For a cup of tea at bedtime
Vitabiotics, TEA+ Sleep Vitamin Tea, £3.95 for 14 tea bags
Turn on the kettle for this black currant and cherry flavored tea.
“Rooibos is naturally caffeine-free and contains high levels of antioxidants.
“It’s low in tannins and is said to have a relaxing effect on the body, without being a sedative,” says Gail.
There is also anti-stress magnesium.
“Passion flower, chamomile, and lavender are all herbs that help with melatonin production, as well as modulate the stress response to increase relaxation and improve sleep quality,” adds Gail.
13. Apps to try…
Sleep School app, free for 7 days, £29.99 for the year, iOS and Android
Made by sleep doctors to help you sleep better, longer.
Filled with courses and guides for lots of sleep support.
Calm, free app, iOS and Android
The number one meditation and sleep app to help you fall asleep peacefully.