10 Sleep-Enhancing Supplements Recommended by Doctors
Occasional sleepless nights are inevitable parts of being human. Add demanding work schedules and blue light into the mix, and relaxing can feel impossible. On these difficult evenings, you might turn to a sleep-enhancing supplement to get some shut-eye—but what are they, exactly? These treatments, often taken orally, aim to help you relax enough to fall asleep. In the United States, there are three different types, explains Dr. Abhinav Singh, facility director of the Indiana Sleep Center: melatonin formulations—available as gummies, liquids, capsules, drops, and more—that boost the natural amount of melatonin hormone produced by your brain's pineal gland each evening; antihistamines (such as Benadryl and Tylenol PM) that can induce drowsiness, helping you fall asleep; and natural iterations, such as valerian root, GABA, chamomile, and lavender, which are known to help, but require more research.
When taking supplements, sleep doctors like Dr. Singh emphasize making them one part of a comprehensive routine instead of your sole method for treating insomnia. "Supplements are training wheels," Dr. Singh says. "Don't use them forever. Use them for a few weeks or intermittently as needed. If you feel that you need it every day, bring it up with your doctor."
Adds Dr. Carleara Weiss, a clinician-scientist with a focus on behavioral sleep medicine and circadian rhythm, "Supplements should be part of an overall lifestyle change toward sleep and wellness. Creating a bedtime routine and avoiding electronic devices such as smartphones, TV, laptops, or tablets at least one hour before going to bed should also be part of a wellness plan to improve sleep quality." And finally, remember to seek medical advice to find the safest, most effective supplement for your needs. "These supplements all have different applications and side effects, so it's important to speak with a sleep medicine physician before you self-medicate—or if you find yourself using sleep aids on a regular basis," explains Dr. Jeffrey Durmer, Chief Medical Officer of Nox Health. With all of this in mind, keep reading for doctor-recommended sleep-enhancement supplements to help you get some shut eye.