The 9 Best Natural Sleep Aids

Sleep. We love it, we look forward to it, we need more of it. It cannot be debated….sleep is important. It helps our bodies recover, assists in long term memory formation, cleanses our brain of toxic proteins and is vital for metabolic processes.

On one hand, lack of sleep can cause a wide range of health issues such as inflammation, loss of focus, lower testosterone production, and poor cardiovascular health. On the other hand consistent, high-quality sleep can help you perform better mentally, physically, sexually, and make you a happier individual.

Current statistics suggest most adults get 5-6 hours of sleep per night. Out of these 5-6, most claim they feel like they get 3-4 hours of QUALITY sleep and it’s easy to see why. Stress levels are at an all-time high with work and other life responsibilities, we are constantly attached to our phones, and distractions and stimulation are nearly impossible to escape.

Beyond the obvious of not slamming a 6 pack of Mountain Dew before bed, trying to avoid over-stimulating activities, and sleeping in a cool and dark room; there are 9 natural sleep aids that may help you fall asleep and stay asleep so you can get some high-quality zzzzz’s. This article will discuss what these sleep supplements are and how much you should take before bed.

Summary And Dosages Of The 9 Best Natural Sleep Aids

  1. Melatonin: 3-5mg
  2. Lemon Balm: 300-400mg
  3. Magnesium Citrate: 400-500mg
  4. Zinc: 5-10mg
  5. L-Theanine: 200mg
  6. Ashwagandha: 500mg
  7. Lavender: 80–160mg
  8. Valerian: 450mg
  9. Kava 300mg


What is Melatonin/What Are The Benefits?

Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain that controls sleep. Its primary function in the body is to help you fall asleep but not necessarily help you stay asleep. Melatonin may also offer some neuroprotective benefits and is a potent anti-oxidant.

Who Should Take Melatonin?

Melatonin is beneficial for people who may have irregular sleep patterns due to jet lag, shift work, or overtraining from exercise. Melatonin especially helps you regulate your sleep cycle when necessary.

How Much Melatonin Should You Take?

500mcg to 5 grams is the correct dose. Taking more than this will not help you fall asleep faster. Ingest 30 minutes before bed.

What Does The Research On Melatonin Show?

Hundreds of studies exist on melatonin, making it the best natural sleep supplement available. For example, a 2007 study conducted by Lemoine et al. demonstrated that subjects who ingested 2mg of melatonin before bed improved sleep time and quality with no withdrawal effects.

Melatonin Side Effects

Supplementing with melatonin does not interfere with the body’s natural production of this hormone. It is also non-toxic and non-addictive.

Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis)

What is Lemon Balm/What Are The Benefits?

Lemon Balm is an herb used to promote calmness and improve brain function. It is very effective at reducing stress and anxiety and may be especially useful for insomniacs.

Who Should Take Lemon Balm?

Lemon Balm will offer the most benefits to individuals who experience high levels of stress and anxiety on a daily basis and need a natural way to “claim their nerves.

How Much Lemon Balm Should You Take?

Lemon Balm is commonly dosed at 300mg taken before bed. Some evidence suggests taking up to 1200mg before bed may confer additional benefits.

What Does The Research On Lemon Balm Show?

A 2004 study conducted by Kennedy et al. showed subjects who ingested 600mg of Lemon Balm were able to reduce their stress levels and improve calmness during a lab controlled stress test.

Lemon Balm Side Effects

Currently, there is no research demonstrating that the natural sleep aid Lemon Balm has any negative side effects.

Magnesium (as citrate)

What is Magnesium/What Are The Benefits?

Magnesium is a mineral, the second most abundant electrolyte in the body, and is one of the most common mineral deficiencies. Magnesium helps regulate blood pressure and insulin, is vital for brain and nervous system function, and for the purposes of this article it can act as a mild sedative. Magnesium supplements should be taken as magnesium citrate as this form is better absorbed by the body.

Who Should Take Magnesium?

Truth be told, magnesium should be taken by everyone due to it being one of the most common deficiencies in the western diet. Additionally, magnesium should be taken by people who have a hard time “winding down” before bed.

How Much Magnesium Should You Take?

Magnesium should be dosed at 200-400mg and consumed with food 30 minutes before bed when desiring its sedative effects.

What Does The Research On Magnesium Show?

A 2010 study conducted by Nielsen et al. showed subjects who ingested 320mg of magnesium daily for 7 weeks were able to improve overall sleep quality.

Magnesium Side Effects

The only known side-effect of magnesium supplementation in a small percentage of the population appears to be diarrhea. This is most common when magnesium oxide is taken (due to having the least absorption of all forms of magnesium).


What is Zinc/What Are The Benefits?

Like magnesium, zinc is an essential mineral and plays an important role in regulating many enzymes. Zinc also is one of the more popular and proven immune boosting supplements and is a powerful anti-oxidant. As it relates to sleep, zinc has been demonstrated to improve both sleep quantity and quality.

Who Should Take Zinc?

As a sleep aid, zinc should be taken by individuals who have a difficult time staying asleep at night.

How Much Zinc Should You Take?

Zinc should be dosed at 5-10mg daily or 25-45mg daily by individuals who are zinc deficient and may not get enough of this mineral through their diet.

What Does The Research On Zinc Show?

A recent 2017 meta-analysis conducted by Yoan et al. examined the effects of zinc as a sleep modulator. They discovered that zinc, when supplemented daily, was able to improve sleep efficiency and sleep onset latency.

Zinc Side Effects

In general, zinc is a very safe supplement. The only unwanted side effect, demonstrated by a meta-analysis, could be altered taste perception and nausea when zinc is taken as a lozenge.


What is L-Theanine/What Are The Benefits?

L-Theanine is a non-dietary amino acid that is naturally found in green tea. As a sleep agent, L-Theanine promotes relaxation while also reducing stress. Essentially, L-Theanine may be able to help “take the edge” off when experiencing anxiety or restlessness.

Who Should Take L-Theanine?

L-Theanine should be taken by individuals who want to feel relaxed without feeling too drowsy. This is why it works synergistically with many other common sleep aids.

How Much L-Theanine Should You Take?

L-Theanine should be dosed at 100-200mg and is best consumed 30-60 minutes before bed or in anticipation of a stressful situation.

What Does The Research On L-Theanine Show?

A 2004 study conducted by Lu et al. discovered that subjects who consumed 200mg of L-Theanine before an anxiety test experienced less stress compared to the placebo group.

L-Theanine Side Effects

Currently, there is no research demonstrating that the natural sleep aid L-Theanine has any negative side effects.


What is Ashwagandha/What Are The Benefits?

Ashwagandha is an herb that acts as an adaptogen. This means it can reduce anxiety, cortisol, and stress-induced insomnia. Therefore it is an effective sleep supplement. It may also provide neuroprotective benefits and improve athletic performance.

Who Should Take Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha should be taken by individuals who experience constant, high levels of stress that can raise cortisol levels and interfere with other hormones that regulate sleep (i.e. melatonin).

How Much Ashwagandha Should You Take?

Ashwagandha should be dosed at 500-600mg as an extract and taken any time of day with food.

What Does The Research On Ashwagandha Show?

A 2012 study conducted by Kapoor et al. discovered that subjects with chronic mental stress, who consumed 300mg of Ashwagandha daily for 60 days, were able to reduce serum cortisol by 28%.

Ashwagandha Side Effects

Currently, there is no research demonstrating that the natural sleep aid Ashwagandha has any negative side effects when dosed properly.


What is Lavender/What Are The Benefits?

Lavender is an oil from a flower that has been used for decades to temporarily reduce anxiety. Research also demonstrated that lavender, when taken as a supplement or applied as oil, can improve sleep quality and decrease insomnia.

Who Should Take Lavender?

Lavender should be taken by individuals who need temporary relief from anxiety or those who need to be “calmed down” before bed.

How Much Lavender Should You Take?

Lavender should be dosed at 80-160mg and contain 20-50% linalool.

What Does The Research On Lavender Show?

A 2010 study conducted by Woelk et al. discovered that subjects who used 80mg of lavender daily (as oil) for 6 weeks were able to reduce anxiety just as effectively as a group taking 500mg of lorazepam.

Lavender Side Effects

Currently, there is no research demonstrating that the natural sleep aid Ashwagandha has any negative side effects when dosed properly.

Valerian (Valeriana Oficinalis)

What is Valerian/What Are The Benefits?

Valerian is a plant whose root is brewed for tea or eaten to help promote relaxation and sedation. As a sleep aid Valerian should make it easier to fall asleep.

Who Should Take Valerian?

Valerian should be taken by individuals who have a hard time falling asleep due to anxiety or an active mind.

How Much Valerian Should You Take?

Valerian should be dosed at 450mg before bed. It should not be supplemented with during the day time.

What Does The Research On Valerian Show?

A 1985 study conducted by Leatherwood et al. discovered that subjects, who reported having a hard time falling asleep and given 450mg of valerian extract before bed, were able to reduce sleep latency and improve overall sleep quality.

Valerian Side Effects

High doses of valerian have been linked to hangover-like effects the next morning. If you do decide to supplement with valerian do not go over 450mg.


What is Kava/What Are The Benefits?

Kava is an herb that may reduce anxiety and has been demonstrated, in some instances, to have a similar potency to certain pharmaceuticals. Kava may not be completely safe and it is recommended to talk to your physician before supplementing with it as a sleep aid.

Who Should Take Kava?

Kava should be taken by individuals who experience high levels of anxiety ONLY after getting clearance from their physician.

How Much Kava Should You Take?

Kava should be dosed at 300mg daily in three divided doses of 100mg or taken as a single dose prior to sleep.

What Does The Research On Kava Show?

A 2004 study conducted by Lehrl discovered that in 61 persons with non-psychotic anxiety, Kava was more effective than placebo at improving sleep (both quality and recuperative effects) and reducing anxiety at 200mg of WS 1490 daily over 4 weeks.

Kava Side Effects

Unfortunately, Kava may not be 100% safe. It may be toxic to the liver, cause rashes in some individuals, and have negative interaction with other drugs. It is recommended to ty other natural sleep aids before trying Kava.


Lemoine, P., Nir, T., Laudon, M., & Zisapel, N. (2007). Prolonged‐release melatonin improves sleep quality and morning alertness in insomnia patients aged 55 years and older and has no withdrawal effects. Journal of sleep research, 16(4), 372-380.

Kennedy, D. O., Little, W., & Scholey, A. B. (2004). Attenuation of laboratory-induced stress in humans after acute administration of Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm). Psychosomatic medicine, 66(4), 607-613.

Nielsen, F. H., Johnson, L. K., & Zeng, H. (2010). Magnesium supplementation improves indicators of low magnesium status and inflammatory stress in adults older than 51 years with poor quality sleep. Magnesium Research, 23(4), 158-168.

Cherasse, Y., & Urade, Y. (2017). Dietary Zinc Acts as a Sleep Modulator. International journal of molecular sciences, 18(11), 2334.

Lu, K., Gray, M. A., Oliver, C., Liley, D. T., Harrison, B. J., Bartholomeusz, C. F., ... & Nathan, P. J. (2004). The acute effects of L‐theanine in comparison with alprazolam on anticipatory anxiety in humans. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 19(7), 457-465.

Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., & Anishetty, S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 34(3), 255.

Woelk, H., & Schläfke, S. (2010). A multi-center, double-blind, randomised study of the Lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to Lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorder. Phytomedicine, 17(2), 94-99.

Leathwood, P. D., & Chauffard, F. (1985). Aqueous extract of valerian reduces latency to fall asleep in man. Planta medica, 51(02), 144-148.

Lehrl, S. (2004). Clinical efficacy of kava extract WS® 1490 in sleep disturbances associated with anxiety disorders: Results of a multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. Journal of affective disorders, 78(2), 101-110.