If you’re struggling to get a good night’s rest and prefer non-prescription remedies, there are natural sleep aids that can work. And there are a wide variety of options — from herbal capsules to bath soaks to bedtime tea — that may help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Whatever’s keeping you awake, one (or more) of the natural sleep aids below could help you get the sleep you need.
What To Look For In A Natural Sleep Aid
When shopping for natural sleep aids, you’ll want to go with products containing research-backed ingredients that have proven effectiveness in inducing relaxation and sleep. For your convenience and peace of mind, I’ve done a deep dive into all the natural, sleep-promoting ingredients featured in each of my picks below (keep scrolling to view). Rest assured, while these products might seem "new agey," they are very much backed by science.
Types Of Sleep Aids To Consider
Another thing to consider is how you’ll want to take your sleep aid. If you’re comfortable swallowing pills, a capsule supplement might be the way to go. If you typically have some time to unwind before bed, a bedtime tea or evening soak will probably feel like a calming and serene addition to your routine. If you're looking for maximum effectiveness, combining a melatonin pill with tea and a bath might be the cure for your previously insurmountable insomnia.
Check out the natural sleep aids below. All of them are backed by research and highly rated on Amazon.
1. A Beloved Tea With Two Powerhouse Herbal Ingredients
Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Extra isn’t just selling hype: By combining chamomile with valerian root, this natural sleep aid lives up to its name. Each bag is individually wrapped for peak freshness as well, and this blend also includes spearmint, lemongrass, hawthorne, and tilia flowers for added flavor (since valerian root can be unpleasant on its own).
The original Sleepytime Tea has been aiding sleep cycles since 1972, and it sells over four million boxes each year. Sleepytime Extra takes that beloved tea blend but adds valerian root for even more potency. In the words of one happy customer: “After trying all the natural products I could find, some with side effects, I tried Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Extra tea. It works. I start feeling sleepy in about 30 minutes and then just fall asleep. [...] I will keep this in my pantry from now on for a good night's sleep.”
What the research says:
- Chamomile: This herb contains an antioxidant called apigenin, which binds to receptors in the brain that might work to ease anxiety and promote sleep. Current research suggests that this is part of the reason chamomile may help people sleep. In a study looking at 80 postnatal women, participants who drank chamomile tea for two weeks experienced significant improvements in their sleep cycles.
- Valerian Root: This is another herb that has been used to alleviate insomnia for centuries. Current research suggests valerian root increases levels of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is also how many anti-anxiety medications work. In one study, researchers found no differences in the success of valerian root and oxazepam — a medication commonly prescribed to treat insomnia.
2. A Melatonin Supplement That Reviewers Swear By
Since melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in the brain that helps regulate the human sleep cycle, this 5 milligram melatonin supplement could be a great addition to your bedtime routine. If you're concerned about next-day grogginess happening with this pick, many reviewers swear that it doesn't have a "morning after" hangover effect. As one satisfied reviewer posted on Amazon: “With the NOW melatonin, I fell asleep easily and stayed asleep. I woke up feeling refreshed and did NOT have that groggy feeling that a couple of the other brands caused. Highly recommended to ensure a good night's sleep!”
Also good to know: each capsule is non-GMO and suitable for vegans, vegetarians, and people who keep kosher. Plus, NOW Foods is a GMP-certified company, meaning every aspect of its manufacturing process has been examined for stability, potency, and product formulation.
What the research says: In a study focusing on cancer patients with insomnia, it was found that taking melatonin orally two hours before bed helped participants fall asleep and improved their sleep quality.
3. An Herbal Sleep Aid With A Cult Following
This natural sleep aid boasts over 6,000 reviews and more than 3,300 of them are 5-star ratings — and it's easy to see why. Luna harnesses the sleep-inducing powers of melatonin, chamomile extract, passionflower extract, valerian root extract, hops extract, L-Theanine, lemon balm extract, and gamma-aminobutyric acid — all of which are natural sleep aids. One happy Amazon customer praised Luna for helping her finally sleep through the night: "Long story short, gave Luna a shot... and lo and behold, it worked!! I slept through the night! No annoying early am wakeups at all! Pure, uninterrupted sleep!! A MIRACLE! "
Also, each Luna capsule is 100% vegan, soy-free, gluten-free, and non-GMO, making it a suitable option for a wide variety of diets. This sleep aid is third-party lab tested as well, and Nested Naturals is a GMP-certified company to boot.
What the research says:
- Passionflower, Valerian, and Hops: Multiple studies have found a connection between passionflower and improved sleep quality, and one such study even found that combining passionflower with valerian root and hops was just as effective at improving sleep quality as taking Ambien.
- L-Theanine: L-Theanine is an amino acid that works to relieve anxiety and improve sleep quality.
- Melatonin: As mentioned in the product pick above, research confirms melatonin is a powerful natural sleep aid.
4. An Aromatic Bath Soak With Magnesium Flakes
This bedtime bath soak is ideal for anyone who doesn’t enjoy taking supplements, but you can also combine it with one or more of the natural sleep aids above. With anxiety-reducing lavender extract and cedarwood extract — which may act as a natural sedative — this bath soak should have you primed for sleep. Amazon customers certainly can't get enough of it. In the words of one satisfied reviewer: "These flakes are wonderful, they dissolve quickly and the smell is divine! Wish it came in a bigger bag. I like these bath flakes so much, I bought a bag for a friend in need, and she felt like it helped with stress and sleep. I believe it does as well. Worth the cost.”
Plus, this product is made in the United States with USDA, organic essential oils, and it’s not tested on animals.
What the research says:
- Lavender: Some studies suggest that lavender may help treat insomnia, and lavender’s aroma is well-known and widely studied for its soothing, anti-anxiety qualities.
- Cedarwood Extract: This oil contains a compound called cedrol, which may act as a natural sedative.
- Magnesium: While there isn't hard evidence to support the efficacy of transdermal (topical) magnesium, the anecdotal evidence praising the stress-relieving, pain-easing, and skin-nourishing effects of magnesium bath soaks abound.
Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently of Bustle's editorial and sales departments.
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