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Vitamins and Supplements to Help with Deep Sleep

Sleep quality, especially deep and REM sleep, is unarguably one of the most important things to optimize, whether you want to maximize aesthetics, performance, or health. Matt learned this the hard way when he could not feel rested no matter how much he slept. He fell asleep just fine but always woke up groggy even…


Sleep quality, especially deep and REM sleep, is unarguably one of the most important things to optimize, whether you want to maximize aesthetics, performance, or health. Matt learned this the hard way when he could not feel rested no matter how much he slept. He fell asleep just fine but always woke up groggy even after 9 hours of sleep. He was later shocked when his first Oura ring revealed that he got under 15 minutes of deep sleep every night.

He went on to invest in over $100,000 to optimize his sleep quality, which led him to formulating Sleep Breakthrough and Dream Optimizers. These products work by optimizing your natural sleep pathways without creating dependency or throwing off your biochemistry or circadian rhythm. 

The following nutrients, supplements, and botanicals may help improve your sleep quality. However, everyone is different, so some ingredients may work for you but not another person. This is why we provide a long list, suggest a few possible stacks, and have two versions of Sleep Breakthrough. 

Minerals to Maximize Deep Sleep


Magnesium deficiency, which is found in 50 – 80% of people, is linked to poor sleep. And, sleep deprivation can decrease magnesium content in red blood cells. One study found that 320 mg of magnesium citrate, a common form of magnesium, improved sleep quality in those who were deficient over a 7-week period.

Some research supports magnesium as being helpful for age-related changes in sleeping patterns. Studies found supplementation increases slow-wave sleep and reduces overnight cortisol levels.

Magnesium interacts with the nervous system through different neurotransmitter pathways. It might block glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter, and promote GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter. This can help promote calmness and help ease sleep.

Magnesium may also help with sleep disturbances caused by muscle cramps, which can interfere with sleep quality. One study found magnesium can decrease the number of nighttime awakenings and improve sleep efficacy.

There are many types of magnesium supplements available, but the most used is magnesium citrate. Other forms like oxide and sulfate have less evidence or tend to be less absorbed. The typical dose for sleep is 320-729 mg of elemental magnesium day.   


Potassium is an essential mineral. It has important roles in muscle contraction, nerve signaling, fluid balance, and heart function. It can be found in fruits, vegetables, and beans, and is also available as a supplement.

Low levels of potassium can cause shorter periods of light sleep and more REM sleep, and is linked to poor sleep quality. Potassium is an electrolyte. It helps maintain the electrical activity of neurons – including ones that help regulate sleep. Enough potassium is needed for neurons to send signals and might help transition between sleep stages.

Potassium also helps muscles to relax and promote healthy nerve function, both of which are needed to help fall and stay asleep. Potassium supplements might improve sleep quality and times awake during the night. But few studies look at potassium alone as a sleep aid.

Too much magnesium can cause electrolyte imbalances and changes in heartbeat, which can be dangerous. It can also interact with blood pressure medications, including diuretics, and should be avoided if you have medical kidney or adrenal issues. Most potassium supplements contain 80 mg.


Zinc is an essential mineral that is important for immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, and metabolism. It is found most abundantly in oysters, but can also be obtained through red meat, poultry, and through supplementation. Vegetarians and plant-based eaters may have a harder time getting enough zinc.

Zinc ions are found in the central nervous system and play a role in regulating GABA receptors, which control communication between nerve cells and the brain. GABA helps to reduce nervous system activity and promote sleep and relaxation. Specifically, zinc can help enhance GABA release. When the receptors are activated, it helps to induce and maintain sleep.

Zinc is also involved in synthesizing melatonin, and adequate zinc levels can support its proper production and release. This can be helpful for maintaining a healthy sleep pattern. Zinc deficiency can inhibit melatonin production, and in one study, 4-week supplementation improved sleep quality and latency.

Outside of sleep, zinc is needed for proper immune function, helping immune cells develop and function properly. It is also crucial for wound healing and acts as an antioxidant. Finally, zinc is important for reproductive health in both men and women.

Zinc supplementation is generally safe, but too much can cause abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Long-term supplementation can cause copper and iron deficiency. Zinc can also interact with antibiotics, chelating agents, and diuretics. The typical dose for sleep is 200 mg.

Vitamins to Help with Deep Sleep

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is one of the essential B-complex vitamins and plays an important role in many body processes. It can be found in various foods, like meat, fish, nuts, seeds, and leafy greens. Both low and high levels of niacin are linked to nervous system problems, and sleep deprivation can lower the amount of vitamin B3 in your body

Niacin can be produced by the body from the amino acid tryptophan, which is the precursor to serotonin. If someone is deficient in niacin, the body will have to use up more tryptophan to make it. That means less gets converted to serotonin. With enough niacin, the body will then be able to shuttle more tryptophan to serotonin to help with sleep.

Niacin is also a precursor to an enzyme called NAD (see anti-aging section), which helps to make serotonin from tryptophan. By helping create NAD, niacin may indirectly help serotonin production, which can affect mood and relaxation which could help with sleep.

In animal studies, niacin was found to increase deep sleep and lower core body temperature (which promotes sleep onset). However, human studies looking at niacin and sleep are lacking. 

Niacin is important for overall metabolism, and especially for proper brain function. It also supports skin health, heart health, and is sometimes used in supporting healthy cholesterol levels. 

Niacin can cause a flushing reaction in high doses (harmless), nausea, and diarrhea and can interact with tuberculosis and diabetes medications. It can be found in slow-releasing tablets and niacinamide (no flushing) and is commonly in 30 – 500 mg doses.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is one of the eight B vitamins. It acts as a coenzyme for enzyme reactions in the body, which support protein, carbohydrate, and fat metabolism. It can be found in meat, fish, poultry, whole grains, and some fruits and vegetables. It can also be found in many different supplements.

Vitamin B6 plays an important role in converting the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin, which can then be converted to melatonin. It is thought that enough of this vitamin can support these brain pathways and improve sleep quality and promote a balanced sleep-wake pattern

Studies have found that a deficiency in vitamin B6 can cause sleep disturbances, and adequate amounts are needed for good sleep. 

A typical dose is 100 mg per day. High doses of niacin can cause tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness, as well as interact with seizure medications, levodopa, and some blood pressure drugs. Supplementing may also cause more vivid dreams.

In addition to sleep, vitamin B6 is needed to support metabolism, nervous system function, and immune function, and to synthesize hemoglobin (a protein that helps carry oxygen in your body).

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is linked to shorter and poorer sleep quality. It seems to have both direct and indirect roles in sleep regulation. This is because receptors can be found in areas of the brain that are involved in sleep – including serotonin and melatonin production.

Vitamin D helps express the enzymes needed to ensure enough serotonin is produced. By supporting serotonin, it indirectly impacts melatonin production. Vitamin D levels tend to decrease in the evening, allowing for more serotonin to convert into melatonin and promoting sleep.

Studies find supplementing vitamin D can reduce feelings of daytime tiredness and increase total sleep time. They also find sleep quality improves and might help you fall asleep quicker.

Some sleep supplement blends will have small doses of vitamin D, such as under 100 IU. However, if you’re taking a larger dose, such as over 1,000 IU, it’s best to take it in the morning to avoid sleep disruption. Taking vitamin D in the morning can improve nighttime sleep.

Too much vitamin D can lead to vitamin D toxicity, which can cause nausea, vomiting, constipation, and kidney problems. Therefore, it is helpful to know your baseline level before starting to supplement. Vitamin D can also interact with weight loss medications, cholesterol medications, and some blood pressure medications.

Other Supplements for Deep and REM Sleep

Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)

GABA is a naturally occurring, inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. It helps to regulate mood and is important for relaxation

Because of its inhibitory effects, GABA is often used as a sleep supplement. Specifically, GABA(A) receptors are known to promote sleep. When GABA binds receptors in the brain, it reduces the activity of neurons and slows down nerve impulses which may help calm the body down to prepare for sleep

Some studies have found positive effects of GABA on sleep, including improved feelings upon waking, decreased total time to fall asleep, increased total non-REM sleep, improved morning alertness, and lower fatigue scores. However, it is unclear if it directly impacts sleep or if it works by promoting a sense of calm, which can be helpful for sleep.

It should be noted that GABA molecules are big – and it may be difficult for them to cross the blood-brain barrier when taken in supplement form. It is unclear how much actually reaches the brain. It has been shown to be safe and effective as a sleep aid, possibly delivering this effect through the gut. If side effects occur they seem to be mild digestive discomfort. The dose used in studies for sleep is 100 mg.

In our experience, there is a small percentage of the population who find GABA supplements stimulating. Our colleague Dr. Darin Engels believes this is genetic. This is why we formulate a GABA-free version of Sleep Breakthrough and will refund the first jar if it doesn’t work for you.


Glycine is a non-essential amino acid, meaning the body can produce it on its own from other amino acids. It can also be found in meat, fish, dairy products, and legumes. Glycine has many roles in the body. It can act as a neurotransmitter, and collagen component, and in making other important molecules.

Glycine plays a role in activating a specific brain receptor called N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), which can help lower core body temperature. Body temperature is naturally lower during sleep, and so this mechanism might ease an easier sleep transition.

Glycine doesn’t impact melatonin production directly. Instead, it modulates other molecules that help regulate the sleep-wake cycle

Studies find that supplementing with glycine can impact many sleep stages – including REM duration. It might also help reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and improve morning fatigue. Sleep quality, sleep efficacy, and shortened sleep onset might also be impacted.

The typical dose is 3 g taken before bed and typically does not produce any side effects.


Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by an area of the brain called the pineal gland, which helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Levels of melatonin typically rise in the evening, signaling to the body that it is time to sleep, and decrease in the morning to promote waking up.

When it gets dark, the pineal gland releases melatonin into the bloodstream, which promotes drowsiness and encourages the body to prepare for sleep. This process helps to synchronize the body’s internal clock with the day-night cycle. Light prevents melatonin release.

It is often used to help correct abnormal sleep patterns, such as jet lag or in shift workers. It is helpful for shortening the time it takes to fall asleep and improves subjective markers of sleep quality. Studies have found it helpful for promoting tired feelings in the evening, and helpful for promoting more restful sleep.

It should be noted that melatonin should not be used all the time, due to a theoretical risk that it may interfere with the body’s natural melatonin production and disrupt normal circadian rhythm. However, studies have found that there are no rebound symptoms of poor sleep when it is discontinued.

Melatonin is not addictive or habit-forming. It is also considered safe, but can cause next-day drowsiness and may interact with some medications.  So, it’s important to check with your doctor before introducing melatonin, especially if you’re taking any medications.

The typical dose is 0.5-5 mg and should be taken 30 minutes before bed. There are also extended-release forms available, that create a continuous supply of melatonin to the body during the night and potentially reduce the number of nighttime awakenings.


Phosphatidylserine is a type of phospholipid that is an important component of cell membranes and is found in high concentrations in the brain. It helps to make up a component of nerve cells called myelin, which helps nerve signals to be sent quickly.

Phosphatidylserine might lower cortisol, a hormone that is part of the stress response. Cortisol levels fluctuate throughout the day – high in the morning, and lower in the evening. But, in certain circumstances, cortisol levels might not follow this pattern. Instead, they might become high in the evening and interfere with sleep. 

Through cortisol regulation, phosphatidylserine might promote relaxation and help sleep quality.

Besides its potential benefits for sleep, phosphatidylserine is considered a “brain nutrient” to support cognition, memory, and attention. Some studies have found it has benefits for exercise performance and recovery.564

The typical dose is between 200 – 400 mg per day, and it is generally well tolerated by most people.


Taurine is a sulfur-containing amino acid found in the brain, heart, and muscles. The body is able to produce it on its own, but not in high enough amounts to meet demand. It can be obtained from meat, fish, and dairy products. It is also available as a supplement.

Taurine works to protect cells – it helps regulate cell membranes, fluid balance, electrolytes, and as an antioxidant. One of the most important electrolytes it helps balance, calcium, is needed for proper nerve signaling and function. By impacting this pathway, it is thought that taurine might help promote sleep.

Taurine also impacts neurotransmitters and can increase GABA (an inhibitory neurotransmitter) and reduce glutamate (an excitatory neurotransmitter). This might promote a more relaxed state and facilitate sleep. In animal studies, taurine supplementation increased total sleep time, but there are no studies looking at taurine directly on sleep outcomes.

Taurine can be taken safely without risk of side effects up to 3 g per day and is generally well tolerated. It can interact with antipsychotic medications and should not be taken when pregnant or breastfeeding because of limited safety data.


Theanine, sometimes called L-theanine, is a naturally occurring amino acid found primarily in the leaves of green tea (Camellia sinensis). It is one of the bioactive compounds responsible for the calming and relaxing effects of tea. It is also available as a dietary supplement. 

Theanine does not have any sleepiness-inducing effects but might promote sleep quality by creating a more relaxed brain state. It does this by increasing GABA levels and is able to cross the blood-brain barrier. It promotes alpha waves, which might be the reason for its stress-reducing effects.

Theanine can also combat some of the blood pressure effects of caffeine, and studies find that it can improve sleep quality despite not having any sleepiness-inducing effects.

Besides sleep, it may have positive effects on cognitive function, helping with attention, focus, and mental clarity. Some studies show that it may help support the cardiovascular system and improve stress levels.

Theanine can be taken in a dose of 100 – 200 mg/day and pairs well alongside caffeine. It is safe when used as directed.


Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps the body to build neurotransmitters. It is found in dairy, meat, seeds, and leafy green vegetables, and is an essential amino acid. This means that your body cannot synthesize it on its own and must be obtained from diet or with supplements.

Tryptophan is a building block for neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin. It enters the brain by competing with other amino acids and when the body has enough, it converts it to serotonin and eventually melatonin which helps control mood and sleeping patterns.

Some studies find that even small amounts of tryptophan in the diet can help improve sleep, and are linked to fewer times awake during the night, better sleep quality, and waking up feeling more refreshed. In people who do not have enough, researchers found that REM sleep was delayed, and less time was spent in REM sleep.

A dose of 1 gram per day is typically used to improve sleep quality. Tryptophan is generally well-tolerated but can cause drowsiness or digestive effects

5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)

5-HTP is a naturally occurring amino acid and chemical precursor to serotonin. Your body can produce it from tryptophan. And supplements often come from the plant Griffonia simplicifolia. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that plays an important role in mood regulation, sleep, and other physiological functions.

5-HTP is thought to impact sleep by crossing the blood-brain barrier and converting to serotonin. Serotonin can then be converted to melatonin, the key hormone in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. This indirect support for melatonin production may promote a more regular sleep pattern and potentially improve sleep quality.

Some studies have found 5-HTP helps with sleep. In one, they found that REM sleep increased, and another found it helped improve slow-wave sleep. When combined with GABA and other ingredients, it reduced the time it took people to fall asleep, and improved overall sleep duration and quality.

5-HTP is safe but may cause some mild digestive side effects and drowsiness. It is important to not take it with serotonin-increasing medications, because there is a risk for serotonin syndrome and should not be used before surgery. The typical dose is 150 – 800 mg per day.

Supplementation is generally safe, and the most common side effect is nausea and appetite suppression. The typical dose for 5-HTP is 300 mg per day. It should not be taken with serotonin-increasing medications, because there is a risk for serotonin syndrome.

Botanicals for Deep and REM sleep

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Ashwagandha is an herb commonly used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, sometimes called Indian ginseng or winter cherry. It is commonly referred to as an adaptogen – something that helps the body to resist physiological and psychological stressors.

Ashwagandha supplements commonly include both the root and berry parts of the plant, which contain withanolides (the active part of the herb)

Animal studies find it acts similarly to the neurotransmitter GABA, which might be responsible for some of its sleep-promoting and stress-reducing effects. Other animal studies have also found it to increase the effect of serotonin, by acting on serotonin receptors.

In humans, supplementing for 6 – 12 weeks can help improve overall sleep, sleep quality, the time it takes to fall asleep, total sleep time, the number of nighttime awakenings, and overall sleep efficiency. Ashwagandha may also modulate cortisol, with one study showing that supplementation decreased cortisol levels and markers of perceived stress.

Side effects are rare but can cause digestive discomfort at high doses. It should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding (no safety data), and in autoimmune or thyroid disorders.

Supplements are commonly standardized to contain 1.5-35% withanolides. Typical doses are 600-1000 mg per day for up to 12 weeks.  

Bamboo Extract

Bamboo extract comes from the stems and leaves of bamboo plants, a type of giant grass. It is one of the most potent natural sources of silica, a mineral that is important for collagen production. It also contains other health-promoting compounds, like flavonoids and antioxidants.  It is often found in supplements and skin care products.

One strain of bamboo was found to have high acetylcholine levels. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in memory, learning, and arousal. However, no studies have been done on humans or animals on how this might impact sleep.

There is limited research on bamboo extract, though it is generally considered safe. Nonetheless, it should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding, if you have bamboo or other grass allergies, or in thyroid conditions. There is currently no dose consensus for bamboo extract.

California Poppy Seed Extract (Eschscholiza californica)

California poppy is a flowering plant that can be found in western North America. It has historical uses in herbal medicine for its potential calming and sleepiness-inducing effects. It contains many bioactive compounds, including alkaloids, flavonoids, and essential oils. These compounds might be responsible for some of the plant’s health benefits.

Laboratory studies find that certain parts of the plant interact with receptors in the brain that help sleep and mood. Animal studies have found that the plant also has sleepiness-inducing and calming effects, which could help promote sleep.

There are no human studies looking at California poppy alone for sleep. One study did find a benefit on sleep quality when combined with melatonin, vitamin B6, and other herbs. But, because of the lack of studies looking at California poppy extract in isolation, there remains no safety data on side effects and dosing. Traditionally, it is brewed as a tea.

Cannabidiol (CBD)

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a component of the Cannabis sativa plant. It does not contain any THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis. This means it does not produce the “high” associated with the plant. CBD is commonly derived from hemp plants, which contain low levels of THC – making it legal in most parts of the world.

CBD may interact with receptors in the endocannabinoid system (CB1 and CB2) found in the brain and other parts of the body. By interacting with these receptors, CBD may help regulate sleep patterns and promote a sense of relaxation, along with several other health benefits.

While human studies are lacking when it comes to the use of CBD for sleep, animal studies have found that it has sleepiness-inducing actions. One study found CBD was able to increase the total amount of sleep time and shorten the time it takes to enter REM sleep. Another found that CBD helped with REM sleep but did not seem to impact non-REM sleep.

CBD may cause decreased appetite, drowsiness, dry mouth, and fatigue. A dose of 200 mg of CBD is safe for use up to 12 weeks and consuming it with food can increase its absorption. Be mindful that CBD can interact with many different medications, including ones that are metabolized by the liver.


Honokiol is a natural substance from the Magnolia tree. It seems to have many different effects on the body. These include helping immune function and also seem to have some effects on the brain and nervous system.

Honokiol may impact sleep by working on GABA receptors which help regulate sleep patterns. It seems to increase GABA transmission, which can have sleepiness-inducing effects. No human studies have looked specifically at its effects on sleep, and there remains a question of how well it is absorbed from supplements.

Honokiol is generally well-tolerated but may interact with blood thinners and sleepiness-inducing medications. There is not enough information to determine the typical dose.

Lavender Essential Oil (Lavandula angustifolia)

Lavender essential oil is a concentrated oil extracted from the lavender plant. It is often used as aromatherapy to promote relaxation and ease stress.

Researchers think that lavender works for sleep by interacting with the limbic system. This system regulates emotions in the brain. When lavender is inhaled, compounds can reach the limbic system through the olfactory bulb (which sends smell signals to the brain).

In studies that look at lavender oil as aromatherapy before bed, it was able to increase sleep quality and slow-wave sleep patterns.

Two compounds in lavender essential oil – linalool and linalyl acetate – might have sleepiness-inducing properties. This is by interacting with neurotransmitters like GABA, serotonin, and dopamine. These interactions may help calm down brain activity and promote a relaxing effect.

Lavender essential oil is usually well tolerated, both as aromatherapy and in supplement form. At high doses, it can cause mild digestive disturbances or headaches and may interact with sleepiness-inducing medications. It is commonly found in doses of 80 – 160 mg standardized to contain 25 – 46% linalool, or as a powdered herb.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon balm is a fragrant herb that belongs to the mint family. It is native to southern Europe, Asia, and North Africa and has been used traditionally as a sleepiness-inducing in many different cultures.

Lemon balm contains various bioactive compounds. Most notably, rosmarinic acid and hydroxycinnamic acid are thought to be responsible for many of this herb’s effects

Lemon balm interacts with certain parts of the nervous system to impact mood and stress response. Some laboratory studies found that lemon balm interacts with GABA receptors, which might help with stress and promote relaxation. 

There are very few studies looking at lemon balm alone for sleep. However, one study in menopausal women found that it helped promote sleep and reduce sleep disturbances

Other studies that used lemon balm in combination with other herbs established that it could improve the quality and quantity of sleep and may reduce sleep disturbances. But because these interventions used multi-ingredient products, it is difficult to know if the effects are a result of lemon balm or other ingredients.

Lemon balm is generally safe, though it might interact with sleepiness-inducing and thyroid medications. It is usually paired with valerian for enhanced sleep quality. The typical dose is 300 – 1200 mg per day and is often standardized to contain 6 – 7% rosmarinic acid.

Magnolia Bark (Magnolia officinalis)

Magnolia bark is an herb commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is derived from the bark of the magnolia tree and is commonly used to promote relaxation, balance stress response, and support sleep. In Chinese medicine, it is often used for Qi stagnation.

Magnolia contains compounds including magnolol and honokiol that seem to have various effects on the brain, particularly in relation to mood and sleep

Some studies have found that they might regulate GABA levels, which play essential roles in mood and emotions. Additionally, these compounds interact with dopamine and serotonin receptors, all of which play an essential role in mood.

Animal studies have found that magnolia improved sleep latency and had more of both REM and non-REM sleep. Currently, there are no human studies looking at magnolia alone for rest.

Magnolia also seems to have protective properties for the brain because it is rich in antioxidants and might interact with the endocannabinoid system. More research is needed to better understand these effects.

Magnolia is usually well tolerated. Preparations are usually standardized to contain a certain amount of magnolol and honokiol (between 40 – 90%) and the typical dose is 250 mg. It may interact with blood thinning medications and other sleepiness-inducings.

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Passionflower is a plant native to North America commonly used in traditional medicine for its potential calming and sleepiness-inducing effects. Most supplements are derived from the aerial (flower and leaf) portions of the plants.

Passionflower is thought to interact with the GABA system in the brain to reduce brain activity and promote relaxation. It contains several bioactive compounds, including flavonoids and alkaloids, which have sleepiness-inducing and calming effects.

Despite passionflower having many historical uses, there are few studies looking at its effect on sleep. One animal study found that it seems to have sleepiness-inducing properties and reduce stress. Human studies often used a combination of ingredients, but in one looking at passionflower on its own they found those who took it slept longer but did not seem to improve sleep quality.

Outside of sleep, passionflower is also used to reduce stress and restlessness.

Passionflower can cause drowsiness and sedation at high doses. It is generally safe, however, it should be avoided during pregnancy as it can induce labor, and there is no safety data during breastfeeding.

Passionflower can be taken as a tea, tincture, or in capsules and the typical dose is 200 – 500 mg per day.

Valerian (Valeriana officinlis)

Valerian is a flowering plant native to Europe and parts of Asia and has a long history of use as a sleepiness-inducing, dating back to ancient Greek and Roman times. Valerian has effects on the brain and nervous system that seem to help promote sleep.

Valerian contains many bioactive compounds, including valerianic acid, which might help promote GABA in the brain and prevent its breakdown. Another way valerian is thought to help with sleep is through interactions with adenosine and serotonin receptors. These chemicals are involved in sleep regulation and mood.

Animal studies have found that valerian extract intake over several weeks increased brain activity patterns linked to sleep. It also seemed to extend to non-REM sleep, an important part of the sleep cycle.

Human studies have also found some benefits. One study found that taking valerian helped participants fall asleep faster and spend more time in deep sleep. Most studies find that valerian improves sleep quality but does not seem to improve other markers of sleep such as sleep latency or sleep duration.

Valerian is generally safe but can cause headaches or dizziness. It can also interact with other sleepiness-inducing medications, alcohol, St. John’s wort, and kava. Because there is no safety data, it should not be used during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or in children.

It is commonly dosed between 300 – 600 mg per day, and some products are standardized based on the amount of valerianic acid it contains.

Common Stacks for Sleep

​​Some of the supplements listed above can work together to help with sleep. In fact, studies often use a combination of ingredients to test when trying to figure out if they can improve different sleep parameters. Some of the most common include:

Magnesium & Zinc: These minerals play roles in neurotransmitter regulation, GABA promotion, and melatonin synthesis. They are often combined to enhance their relaxation-promoting effects and to help with sleep quality. 

GABA, 5-HTP, & Valerian: The combination of these three compounds has been used before to help promote sleep. Combining them might create a synergistic effect to help with relaxation, mood, and sleep quality. 

Vitamin B6 & Tryptophan: Vitamin B6 supports the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin, which is essential for melatonin production. Pairing vitamin B6 with tryptophan-rich foods or supplements could potentially optimize melatonin synthesis.

L-theanine & GABA: Both L-theanine and GABA have relaxing effects on the brain and can promote a sense of calm. Combining them might synergistically enhance their impact on improving sleep quality.

Valerian & Lemon Balm: These botanicals have calming effects. They are commonly paired to reduce stress and promote relaxation before sleep.

Passionflower & Valerian: These herbs have a history of use for their sleepiness-inducing properties. Combining them might enhance their effects on promoting sleep and reducing restlessness. They also make for delicious tea.

5-HTP & GABA: Both compounds influence neurotransmitter pathways related to mood and relaxation.

Valerian & Theanine: These two compounds might work synergistically to help improve the time it takes to fall asleep.

Valerian & Lavender Aromatherapy: When these two herbs are diffused together, they might help promote relaxation and help with sleep onset.

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