It’s a well-known fact that humans spend almost a third of their lives sleeping. And while I understand that it’s important, it’s only as I’ve gotten older that I’ve realised just how much of a priority it should be. Though I’m a relatively good sleeper, I do struggle to fall asleep, and recently it’s taken me so long to nod off that I’m considering integrating natural sleep supplements into my diet.
Naturally, I have a lot of questions, so I reached out to Dr Daniel Boyer, a practising doctor of medicine with a focus on medical research at the Farr Institute in the United States, to get all the answers I needed. Read on to get to learn about the importance of sleep and the benefits of sleep supplements.
Why is sleep so important?
“Sleep is essential for overall health and well-being,” Dr Boyer tells The Sports Edit. “It helps the body restore and rebuild cells, make new memories, and process emotions. It also helps the body regulate blood sugar, hormones, and neurotransmitters.” It’s a process we’re almost completely oblivious to — until we don’t get enough sleep.
“When you don't get enough sleep, you may develop problems with focus, concentration, motivation, and moods.”
Whether you’ve had a big night out with friends on a weeknight or stayed up til dawn completing an assignment, it’s safe to say, we are all aware of some of the negative effects of lack of sleep.
How much sleep do we actually need?
If you’re wondering what enough sleep actually means, Dr Boyer notes that it differs from person to person and is based on various different factors from activity levels to age. “Most experts recommend that healthy adults get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night for better health and well-being,” he explains. “Anything less can lead to disasters like fatigue, poor concentration, and weight gain,” he adds. “Additionally, you'll be less productive and able to resist temptations later in the day.”
Good sleep habits are the most important thing
Before considering sleep supplements, the most important thing is to establish habits and an environment that promote deep sleep. These include a consistent bedtime each night, avoiding screens in the hour before bed, keeping your bedroom cool (ideally 19-20C) and reducing caffeine and alcohol intake.
What are natural sleep supplements and how can they help?
If you’ve already established good sleep habits and like me still struggle to fall asleep, natural sleep supplements may be the answer.
“Natural sleep supplements are dietary supplements that may improve sleep quality,” Dr Boyer explains.
“Typically taken before bedtime to help relax the mind and body, leading to deeper sleep,” they are believed to positively impact overall wellbeing by “improving your mood, focus, and memory and decreasing anxiety and depression.” Sign me up!
What are the ingredients should you look for in a sleep supplement?
According to Dr Boyner, a few of the more common ingredients found in sleep supplements are melatonin, lavender oil, chamomile, hops, and valerian. The popularity of magnesium and zinc is also on the rise. However, as with most supplements, it’s worth noting that there is no one ingredient that works for everyone. “People may respond differently to the ingredients formulated in natural sleep supplements, including varying tolerances to their possible side effects.”
But do sleep supplements work?
Just like there is no one ingredient that works for everyone, there is no one sleep supplement that works for everyone. But that doesn’t mean they don’t work at all. Basically, it comes down to finding the best sleep supplement for you. While Dr Boyer believes ingredients like melatonin, guarana, and valerian have the best reputation for assisting sleep, recent studies indicate that magnesium and zinc can help ensure you get your seven hours. The best thing you can do is experiment with safe, high quality natural supplements until you find the supplement that best works for you.
Here are a few of the best sleep supplements The Sports Edit recommends.
Magnesium, L-Theanine, and 5-HTP combine in the Reset, Relax + Sleep by Anatome. Complete with ashwagandha, chamomile, lavender and peppermint, this sleep supplement is made for those with an active lifestyle and promises to encourage the body to achieve deep sleep.
ZZZZs by Form Nutrition aims to support regenerative sleep. Made up of magnesium, 5-HTP, L-Glycine, L-Theanine, Zinc Citrate and Bioperine® (Black Pepper Extract), Magnesium Stearate, it calms and relaxes you to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.
If you’re looking for a magnesium supplement for sleep, look no further than the M3 by Pouri. Made with magnesium zinc, vitamin B6 and malic acid, it works to reduce tiredness and fatigue, support muscle function and aid your electrolyte balance.
Another magnesium supplement for sleep that is a The Sports Edit favourite is the Food-Grown Magnesium by Wild Nutrition. The Food-Grown® formula replicates the magnesium found in nature to promote sleep, reduce tiredness and enhance psychological wellbeing.
Explore our range of Sleep Supplements