The Best Natural Sleep Aids Reviews 2021Updated on January 18, 2021 While all product recommendations are chosen independently, we may receive compensation for purchases made through our site. Learn more about how we make money here.
When struggling to fall asleep, many people turn to natural sleep aids to help them relax and doze off comfortably.
These dietary supplements are generally made with herbs, amino acids, or other naturally-occurring components. On the whole, they have fewer side effects than most prescription sleep medications and over-the-counter sleep aids.
Natural sleep aids are most effective when used in the short term. They can be useful in realigning your sleep schedule after jet lag or another disruption to your circadian rhythm.
If you’ve looked into natural sleep supplements before, you know that there is an abundance of available products. So much so that the range of brands and ingredients can be daunting to sort through.
To streamline your search, we’ve reviewed the options and selected our top choices for the best natural sleep aids. In addition, our guide walks you through the frequently-asked questions about sleep supplements including their ingredients, safety, and side effects.
Our Top Picks
|Melatonin||3 mg melatonin, 65 mg calcium||$.04/dose|
|Luna Natural Sleep Aid||100mg L-Theanine, 75 mg Valerian root extract, 75 mg Chamomile plant extract , 50 mg passionflower plant extract, 50 mg lemon balm plant extract, 50 mg hops flower extract, 50 mg GABA, 3 mg melatonin||$.37/dose|
|Sleepytime Herbal Tea||Chamomile, spearmint leaves, lemongrass, tilia flowers, blackberry leaves, orange blossoms, hawthorn berries, rosebuds||$.12/bag|
|Restful Sleep Gummy||100 mg L-Theanine, 3 mg melatonin, 17 mg chamomile flower extract, 17 mg passionflower plant extract, 16 mg lemon balm plant extract||$.52/dose|
|Micro Melatonin||100 mg sour cherry powder, 250 mcg melatonin||$.11/dose|
|Children’s Sleep Chewable Tablet with Melatonin||1 mg melatonin||$.44/dose|
Nature Made Melatonin
- Primary Ingredients: 3 mg melatonin, 65 mg calcium (as Dibasic Calcium Phosphate)
- Other Ingredients: Sodium Starch Glycolate, Magnesium Stearate
- Form: Tablet
- Dosage: One tablet taken one hour before bedtime
- Age: 18+
Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced by the body to help induce sleep. For many people, an extra boost of melatonin in a supplement can promote relaxation to assist with falling and staying asleep.
These tablets include 3 mg of melatonin for people who benefit from a moderate dose of the hormone. The tablets are USP-Verified for quality assurance, and NatureMade is a well-known maker of supplements.
Nested Naturals Luna Natural Sleep Aid
- Main Ingredients: 100 mg L-Theanine, 75 mg Valerian root extract, 75 mg Chamomile plant extract , 50 mg passionflower plant extract, 50 mg lemon balm plant extract, 50 mg hops flower extract, 50 mg GABA, 3 mg melatonin
- Other Ingredients: Vegetable Cellulose, rice flour
- Form: Capsule
- Dosage: 1-2 capsules taken 30-60 minutes before bed
- Age: 18+
The Nested Naturals Luna Natural Sleep Aid is made with a blend of plant extracts, melatonin, and amino acids designed to make it easy to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. The combination of these ingredients can reduce anxiety and calm the mind in one non-habit forming tablet.
Capsules are vegan and best taken between 30 minutes to one hour before bed. Nested Naturals offers a lifetime guarantee, so if at any point you are unsatisfied with this product, you can get a full refund.
Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Herbal Tea
- Ingredients: Chamomile, spearmint leaves, lemongrass, tilia flowers, blackberry leaves, orange blossoms, hawthorn berries, rosebuds.
- Form: Tea bag
- Dosage: Each tea bag makes one 8-ounce cup of team
- Age: None Listed
This blend of natural plants offers a pleasant taste and smell. Chamomile may help with relaxation, and the aromas of the tea can bring further calm. This tea is completely caffeine-free.
For many tea-drinkers, the routine of having a fresh-smelling and warm cup of tea before bed contributes to a tranquility that helps ease them into a full night of sleep.
OLLY Restful Sleep Gummy
- Main Ingredients: 100 mg L-Theanine, 3 mg melatonin, 17 mg chamomile flower extract, 17 mg passionflower plant extract, 16 mg lemon balm plant extract
- Other Ingredients: Glucose Syrup, Beet Sugar, Water, Gelatin, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Pectin, Coloring (from purple carrot, black carrot, and blueberry juice), Vegetable Oil (coconut, canola), Carnauba Wax
- Form: Gummy
- Dosage: Two gummies taken 30 minutes before bedtime
- Age: 18+
These gummies from OLLY have a blackberry flavor and pack a potent mix of melatonin, the amino acid L-Theanine, and extracts of chamomile, passionflower, and lemon balm. The combination can help provide a soothing transition into a restful night’s sleep.
The company recommends that you chew two gummies entirely about 30 minutes before you plan to go to bed. The gummies are sold in 50-count and 70-count bottles.
Utzy Naturals Micro Melatonin
- Main Ingredients: 100 mg sour cherry powder, 250 mcg (micrograms) melatonin
- All Ingredients: Mannitol, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Citric Acid, Potassium Bicarbonate, Xylitol, Croscarmellose Sodium, Crospovidone, Fructose, Natural Cherry Flavor, Stevia Leaf Extract, Sodium Stearyl Fumarate, and Silicon Dioxide.
- Form: Tablet
- Dosage: One tablet taken 1 hour before bed
- Age: 18+
For people who have never taken melatonin, it can be useful to start with a small dose. Utzy’s Micro Melatonin tablets provide a small amount (250 mcg) of melatonin and 100 mg of sour cherry powder. Sour cherries have been found to increase melatonin production and may promote muscle recovery.
A dissolving tablet with a cherry flavor makes this supplement easy to take, and Utzy offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you find that you’re not satisfied for any reason, you can get a full refund.
Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Sleep Chewable Tablet with Melatonin
- Main Ingredients: 1 mg melatonin
- Other Ingredients: Sugar, Natural Flavors, Xylitol, Citric Acid, Natural Color, Citrisweet, Stearic Acid, and Silicon Dioxide
- Form: Chewable Tablet
- Dosage: 1-2 tablets depending on age taken 30-60 minutes before bedtime
- Age: 3+
Zarbee’s Naturals formulates these chewable tablets to be safe and easy for children to ingest. They can be used with children ages 3 or older, and the company recommends consulting a pediatrician for dosing advice, especially with younger kids.
The active ingredient in the tablet is melatonin, which can help with natural relaxation to transition into bedtime. Zarbee’s Naturals offers a similar product in both a liquid and a gummy form.
Natural Sleep Aids Buying Guide
What Are Natural Sleep Aids?
Natural sleep aids are products that are made to help with falling asleep or staying asleep. Sold as dietary supplements, they can be purchased without a prescription.
Natural sleep aids do not involve complex chemicals and are in this way distinct from prescription sleep medications and from over-the-counter (OTC) sleeping pills. Instead, they are usually made with plant-based ingredients and extracts, naturally occurring hormones, and/or amino acids.
What Ingredients Are Used in Natural Sleep Aids?
Natural sleep aids may feature only one ingredient or can have a combination. The following section provides details about many of the most commonly used ingredients in natural sleep aids.
Melatonin is a sleep-related hormone that is produced naturally by the body. The body starts releasing melatonin as daylight recedes and bedtime approaches. This melatonin production helps you relax and fall asleep, and the hormone continues to be produced during the night.
Many people with sleep problems have low levels of melatonin production. To counteract this, some people take melatonin supplements at the same time every night to prepare the body for sleep.
Research indicates that melatonin has the most impact on people who have sleep issues related to a disrupted sleep-wake cycle, such as people with jet lag or who do shift work. Some adults with insomnia find taking melatonin helps in falling asleep.
Valerian root, sometimes just referred to as valerian, is derived from a plant that grows in Europe, Asia, and parts of North America. Its use stretches back at least as far as ancient Greece where it was used for non-sleep related conditions.
Research to determine the effectiveness of valerian for sleeping problems is limited, and results are inconsistent. However, some studies do point toward potential uses for people with insomnia. In most people, taking valerian has been found to have few side effects.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that is implicated in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. These reactions involve bones, muscles, and nerves as well as the cardiovascular, digestive, and immune systems. There are signs that magnesium plays a role in sleep as well.
For most people, the best way to get the magnesium that the body needs is through the primary sources of this mineral: food and water. Getting magnesium from a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables helps keep your magnesium levels in equilibrium with other vitamins and minerals.
Some research has shown that magnesium can help older people address insomnia, but doctors recommend against widespread use of magnesium supplements. It is rare for high magnesium intake to cause side effects, but most negative reactions have been tied to large doses taken via supplements.
Overall, there is limited data about taking magnesium supplements for sleep. Magnesium may change how some other drugs work in the body, so anyone considering magnesium as a natural sleep aid should first talk with their doctor.
Herbs and Plant Extracts
Chamomile, specifically German chamomile, is one of the most well-known ingredients in teas, especially teas meant to help with sleep. Its use dates back to the Greeks and Romans who put it to use for a handful of medical conditions.
Detailed research about the effects of chamomile for sleep has not been conducted. Limited studies have found that, in combination with other herbs, it may reduce anxiety, insomnia, and certain gastrointestinal issues. More research is needed to better understand its specific effects and the optimal combination with other natural remedies.
In most people, ingesting chamomile causes no negative effects; however, some have reported allergic reactions. Allergic reactions seem to be more likely in people who have a known allergy to ragweed. Some research points to potential interference with other medications, so talking with your doctor can help prevent any unexpected side effects.
Lavender is a multi-functional plant thanks to its smell. It has been used for hundreds of years as a natural remedy, and both real and synthetic lavender scents are applied in products ranging from candles to air fresheners to soaps and shampoos.
From a medical standpoint, there is a shortage of detailed studies about the effects of lavender, including for sleep problems. However, based on research in mice, there is reason to believe that the smell of lavender can have a calming effect.
Lavender is most frequently used as a component of teas or in essential oils. It may cause stomach discomfort or other issues if taken orally.
Lemon balm features the citrus scent of lemon and is regularly mixed with other plants as part of bedtime teas. Like many other natural remedies, it has limited evidence testing its effects, but people who use it describe increased calmness and tranquility that may help with getting to sleep.
Passionflower is a popular herbal remedy often promoted for use in treating pain, insomnia, and anxiety. No hard data from well-designed clinical trials is available to evaluate its effectiveness in managing these conditions; however, reports of negative effects are rare.
When dried, passionflower may be consumed in tea. It can also be taken orally in the form of liquid extracts or tablets.
St. John’s Wort
The flowering part of the St. John’s Wort plant has been used in herbal remedies for hundreds of years. St. John’s Wort may be found in teas and various liquid extracts and pills.
The majority of the research about St. John’s Wort has been in relation to depression, and those studies have had mixed results. There is no strong evidence that it reduces sleeping problems.
St. John’s Wort has been found in clinical trials to directly affect how other medications work within the body. These medications include birth control, antidepressants, and blood thinning medications. For this reason, it is important to consult with a doctor before taking this natural product.
Ginkgo biloba, often just called Ginkgo, has a long tradition of use in Chinese medicine. It is taken as a capsule, extract, tea, or balm. Ginkgo seeds should not be eaten as they can cause dangerous side effects.
Ginkgo has received more attention in clinical research studies than most other natural medicines. None of these studies have shown conclusive evidence that Ginkgo helps with any specific medical condition. Evidence that it may help with sleep problems is limited. The most compelling study relates to the use of Ginkgo in people with depression and sleep issues.
This natural product is generally well-tolerated when taken orally, although some people do have mild side effects. It is not recommended for people who have bleeding issues or who are pregnant, and it may interact with certain medications.
Kava comes from the South Pacific and can be made into a drink as well as capsules and extracts. Its main use has historically been to reduce anxiety.
Studies of kava have found that it can cause serious liver damage. These effects are greater when it is consumed at the same time as alcohol. In larger doses, it may have negative effects on the heart and eyes.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends against using kava because of these side effects. Definitely talk with a doctor before considering taking kava for any health issues.
L-Theanine is an amino acid most commonly found in tea leaves. It activates neurotransmitters in the brain that assist with calming and reducing anxiety. It is generally safe for adults to take but may have effects on blood pressure. People who take blood pressure medications should be sure to talk with a doctor before using L-theanine.
Glycine is a non-essential amino acid that activates neurotransmitters in the brain. The primary source of glycine is in food.
Tryptophan, also called L-tryptophan, which is the same molecule, can convert to melatonin in the body. The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) warns that L-tryptophan supplements have been linked to a potentially fatal disease called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS). In addition, the benefits of L-tryptophan for sleep are not well-established.
How Do you Take Natural Sleep Aids?
Natural Sleep Aids may be formulated in a number of different ways. Pills, such as tablets and capsules meant to be swallowed, are a very common way of ingesting these products.
Natural supplements may be designed to be chewed or dissolved in the mouth. Examples include powders, gummies, and certain types of tablets.
Some of the botanicals used in natural sleep aids can be extracted with hot water to be consumed as tea and are a great choice for people who find comfort in a warm beverage before bed. For our top choices for bedtime teas, check out our guide to the Best Teas for Sleep.
Though less common, some natural sleep aids are formulated as extracted liquids or as topical balms to be applied to the body.
Are Natural Sleep Aids Safe?
In most cases, natural sleep aids are safe. However, some people may experience side effects or allergic reactions.
Everyone is different, so it’s not possible to say that it’s safe for everyone to take these products. To be safe, the best bet is to consult with a doctor before starting to take a natural sleep supplement.
What Are the Side Effects of Natural Sleep Aids?
The side effects for any specific natural sleep aid will depend on the ingredients used in that product. For this reason, it’s important to do your research and examine the label and learn about the specific components of any supplement.
Some natural supplements can cause stomach discomfort, especially in people who are not used to ingesting the ingredients. These issues tend to be more common when people take supplements in very large doses.
Because of their effects on the brain and body, some natural sleep aids can change how your body processes other medications. If you regularly take any prescription medications, check with your doctor about any possible negative interactions with the ingredients of a natural sleep supplement.
Another potential side effect is dependence, which means that you can’t fall asleep if you don’t take the supplement. Most sleep supplements are meant to be used as a temporary solution to reorient your sleep schedule such as when you are jet lagged after traveling across many time zones.
In rare cases, natural sleep products can provoke allergic reactions. People with known allergy issues should be sensitive and carefully examine the product label including the ingredients and any other disclaimers. Some natural sleep products may be made in facilities that process other allergens.
What’s the Proper Dosage of Natural Sleep Aids?
The proper dosage depends on the contents of the sleep aid. The packaging should list the recommended dose and the time when it should be taken relative to your bedtime.
More research is needed to better understand the optimal dosages and combinations for many of these natural ingredients. As a result, it can be hard to say exactly what the best dose is.
For many people, it makes sense to start with a lower dose and take more if necessary. If you use this approach, make sure not to exceed any maximum recommended dosage on the packaging, and always talk with your doctor if you have any questions about the appropriate dose in your specific situation.
Who Shouldn’t Take Natural Sleep Aids?
Though natural sleep aids are safe for most people, they aren’t for everyone.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, children, and people who regularly take prescription medications should err against using natural sleep aids. There is less known about the effects of sleep supplements for people in these groups. Any questions about supplements should always be directed to a licensed medical professional.
If you take a sleep supplement and notice any negative effects, stop taking that supplement, and if the effects are serious, consult with a doctor.
Are Natural Sleep Aids Regulated?
These products are sold as dietary supplements and not as medications. For this reason, they are not reviewed or regulated in the same way as drugs. Manufacturers do not have to meet the same strict standards that are used in producing medications, and this puts a greater burden on the consumer to investigate and scrutinize any specific product.
How Else Can I Improve My Sleep?
Some of the best ways to get better sleep don’t involve taking any supplements or medications. Rather, they focus on your sleep habits and environment or what is collectively known as sleep hygiene.
Sleep hygiene includes having a comfortable mattress and pillows, a relaxing sleep setting, and good routines to get ready for bed. It may involve things like mindfulness to reduce anxiety and put you in the mood for sleep. For specific strategies, check out our 15 Tips for Better Sleep Hygiene.
If you have severe insomnia or sleeping problems that have been occurring for an extended period of time, talk with your doctor. A doctor can help determine if there is any underlying condition that may be disrupting your sleep.
|1||Nature Made Melatonin||$.04/dose|
|2||Nested Naturals Luna Natural Sleep Aid||$.37/dose|
|3||Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Herbal Tea||$.12/bag|
|4||OLLY Restful Sleep Gummy||$.52/dose|
|5||Utzy Naturals Micro Melatonin||$.11/dose|
|6||Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Sleep Chewable Tablet with Melatonin||$.44/dose|