The 8 Best Natural Sleep Aids of 2021, According to a Dietitian

Get your zzz's in, naturally

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Natural Vitality Calmful Sleep at Amazon

"The featured ingredient in this powdered supplement is a blend of magnesium glycinate and carbonate."

Best Budget: Nature's Bounty Quick Dissolve Melatonin at Amazon

"Suitable for vegetarians, they are free of sugar, artificial flavors and preservatives."

Best Tea: Traditional Medicinals Nighty Nighty Extra at Amazon

"The most abundant ingredient in this tea is Valerian Root which is famous for its sleep promoting and supporting qualities."

Best Herb Blend: Herb Pharm Relaxing Sleep at Amazon

"This product features five US-grown herbs with sleep-supporting capabilities, including Valerian Root, Passionflower, Hops strobile, Chamomile, and Catnip."

Best Melatonin: Life Extension 3mg Melatonin at Amazon

"This product keeps things simple, containing less than five certified Non-GMO and gluten-free ingredients."

Best for Muscle Tension: Pure Encapsulations Muscle Cramp/Tension Formula at Amazon

"This is an electrolyte and herb formula designed to help ease mild muscle tension while promoting overall relaxation."

Best For The Bedroom: Indie Lee Pillow Mist at Amazon

"Indie Lee’s Pillow Mist combines chamomile and lavender essential oils to support a soothing, calm sleep."

Best Essential Oil: Plant Therapy Nighty Night at Amazon

"This product is the first of its kind to be specifically designed with children ages two to ten in mind."

There is nothing as pleasurable or nourishing as a restful night's sleep. Unfortunately, sleep disorders represent some of the most challenging medical conditions and affect one in three people at some stage of their lives.

There are many suggestions for getting a restful night’s sleep that one can try before even stepping into the drugstore. Natural remedies for sleeplessness include aromatherapy, herbal teas, and herbal tinctures. In addition to botanical methods of supporting a good night’s sleep, some consumers might benefit from supplementing with melatonin or nervous system-supporting minerals such as magnesium or calcium.  

It is estimated that about 20 percent of Americans have tried some form of natural remedy for sleep problems in the last year. There is no formal definition of natural sleep aids, and research on their effectiveness for helping sleep problems varies. There are a wide variety of sleep aids available, including powdered supplements, pillow mists, essential oil, tinctures, and tablets.

Here, the best sleep aids:

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Natural Vitality Calmful Sleep

Natural Vitality Natural Calm Calmful Sleep Magnesium Anti Stress Extra Sleep Support

Courtesy of Amazon

Natural Vitality’s Calmful Sleep is our top pick for an overall natural sleep aid. We love the blend of sleep-supporting ingredients and the brand’s commitment to quality.

The featured ingredient in this powdered supplement is a blend of magnesium glycinate and carbonate. It is suspected that almost half of all Americans are missing the recommended daily intake of Magnesium. Magnesium is an extremely important nutrient as it is needed for over 300 reactions in the body and helps regulate the nervous system.

In addition to calming magnesium, you get three additional sleep-promoting ingredients. Calmful sleep contains Suntheanine®+, a patented form of the relaxing amino acid L-theanine, and melatonin, the hormone that helps control your natural sleep-wake cycle. It also contains gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that helps calm brain activity.

This product is Non-GMO verified, vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free. For occasional sleeplessness, Natural Vitality recommends starting with 1 teaspoon (2 grams) and gradually increase to two teaspoons (4 grams) daily.

Best Budget: Nature's Bounty Quick Dissolve Melatonin

Natures Bounty Melatonin

Courtesy of Amazon

For consumers looking for a powerful supplement for pennies per tablet, Nature’s Bounty 3-milligram Melatonin tablets are the way to go. These quick-dissolving tablets act fast so it is best to take them at bedtime. For those that prefer not to swallow pills, these tablets are no fuss, as they dissolve under the tongue. 

They're also a great option for traveling, as you can easily take these without any water or having eaten a meal. Suitable for vegetarians, they are free of sugar, artificial flavors, and preservatives. For those with dietary restrictions, this product is free of milk, lactose, soy, gluten, yeast, and fish.

Best Tea: Traditional Medicinals Nighty Nighty Extra

Traditional Medicinals Organic Nighty Night Valerian Herbal Tea

Courtesy of Amazon

What is better than winding down on the couch with a soothing, warm cup of tea? Traditional Medicinals Organic Nighty Night Extra tea is our top choice for sleepy-time teas. Formulated by a renowned herbalist, this brand aims to provide safe, healing products.

The most abundant ingredient in this tea is Valerian Root which is famous for its sleep-promoting and supporting qualities. Unlike many of the other sleep-time teas on the market, each bag contains 450 milligrams of Valerian, which is the average dose that has been studied in research.

In addition to Valerian Root, Nighty Night Extra tea contains a blend of soothing herbs such as lemon balm, passionflower, and peppermint.

Traditional Medicinals is a Certified B Corporation and is part of Green America’s Green Business Network of socially and environmentally responsible businesses, so you can feel good about where your dollar is going as you start to sleep better.

Best Herb Blend: Herb Pharm Relaxing Sleep

Herb Pharm Relaxing Sleep Herbal Formula

Courtesy of Amazon

Not a fan of teas or swallowing pills? Herbal blends in tincture form are an effective and quick way to support your body’s transition to sleep.

Herb Pharm’s Relaxing Sleep uses organic herbs to support relaxation and a restful night’s sleep. This product features five US-grown herbs with sleep-supporting capabilities, including Valerian Root, Passionflower, Hops strobile, Chamomile, and Catnip.

Herb Pharm is committed to top quality and purity. They have their own organic farms in Southern Oregon and aim to use their own herbs whenever possible. In this blend, the Valerian Root and sourced directly from their farm. They use rigorous testing to ensure an herb’s identity when sourcing from their network of farmers and products are USDA certified organic.

To use, add one full squeeze of the dropper bulb to two ounces of water or juice, one hour before bed and again at bedtime. Of note, this product does contain cane alcohol and may not be appropriate for all.

Best Melatonin: Life Extension 3mg Melatonin

Life Extension Melatonin 3mg

Courtesy of Amazon

Verified by Consumerlabs.com for purity, potency, and quality, Life Extension's three-milligram melatonin supplements are a responsible, effective choice. In addition to promoting a restful night's sleep, a three-milligram dose of melatonin has been shown in small studies to help ease IBS symptoms.

These plant-based capsules are best consumed 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime or as recommended by a healthcare provider. This product keeps things simple, containing less than five certified Non-GMO and gluten-free ingredients.

Best for Muscle Tension: Pure Encapsulations Muscle Cramp/Tension Formula

Pure Encapsulations Muscle Cramp/Tension Formula

Courtesy of Amazon

There are many reasons why some might have trouble falling or staying asleep, including muscle tension. Pure Encapsulations' Muscle Cramp/Tension Formula is an electrolyte and herb formula designed to help ease mild muscle tension while promoting overall relaxation.

The electrolytes in each capsule—magnesium, potassium, and calcium—work synergistically to maintain healthy muscle contractile function.

In addition to the electrolytes, each serving also contains chamomile, lemon balm, and passionflower. These botanicals have been used by herbalists for centuries to help soothe the nervous system and support sleep. In addition to its use as a mild sedative, lemon balm has also been used traditionally for stomach distress and general exhaustion.

Pure Encapsulations is one of our favorite brands because of its commitment to quality. This product is made with hypoallergenic, vegan ingredients and is certified gluten-free and non-GMO. 

Best For The Bedroom: Indie Lee Pillow Mist

Indie Lee Sleep Pillow Spray

Courtesy of Amazon

Thinking about adjusting your bedtime routine? If so, you might want to consider adding a pillow mist as part of your wind-down ritual. We all have an innate cue to tell us when to start winding down for sleep called the circadian rhythm; however, there are other ways we can also cue our body to know sleep is coming. One way to signal sleep is through scent.

Indie Lee’s Pillow Mist combines chamomile and lavender essential oils to support a soothing, calm sleep. Indie Lee is a clean skincare brand, so you can feel good about bringing it into your bedroom or adding it to your travel packs for moments of jetlag.

The brand keeps their products free of 1,300+ banned ingredients, including parabens, mineral oil, sulfate-based detergents, synthetic fragrance, petroleum-based ingredients, phthalates, phenoxyethanol, formaldehyde, and GMO ingredients.

Best Essential Oil: Plant Therapy Nighty Night

Plant Therapy KidSafe Nighty Night Essential Oil Blend

Courtesy of Amazon

Designed with restless kids in mind, Plant Therapy's Nighty Night essential oil is a great choice for the entire family. There are many ways to start incorporating this product into your family’s bedtime routine.

Plant Therapy suggests applying a diluted amount topically to your child’s chest or back of the neck 30 minutes before bedtime, adding a few drops to a warm bath, or diffusing it throughout the night in a diffuser.

This product is the first of its kind to be specifically designed with children ages two to ten in mind, but it's also suitable for adults and smells divine. Using a blend of soothing, supportive, and relaxing oils such as Lavender, Marjoram, Mandarin, Cedarwood Atlas, Patchouli, Clary Sage, Chamomile Roman, and Blue Tansy extracts, the scent is described as fresh and fruity, with a refreshing herbal and earthy undertone.

Final Verdict

Natural Vitality’s Calmful Sleep is our top pick for overall natural sleep aid. We love the blend of sleep-supporting ingredients and the brand’s commitment to quality.

What to Look for in Natural Sleep Aids

Type:

Sleep aids vary in strength, formulation, and ingredients; there is a type of sleep aide for everyone. Research is mixed on the best type of natural sleep aid, it may take trial and error to find the best product for you. Teas, powders, tinctures, and essential oils are an excellent choice for those looking to avoid pills or tablets. 

Form and Dose:

Sleep is essential for overall health and wellbeing. A natural sleep aid may not be enough to ease periods of insomnia or chronic sleep disturbances. It is important to speak with your doctor or reach out to a mental health professional who can help if sleep disruptions continue.

The ways in which essential oils, herbs, minerals, or melatonin work to support sleep varies. Some products may help you fall asleep where others might help you stay asleep. When looking for a new sleep aid, consider the dose of a product. Limited research about natural sleep aids hinders the ability to identify the right dosage for many products. Even with natural supplements, a dose that is too high may have unwanted side effects.

Price:

Not all supplements, herbal blends or essential oils are created equal. It is worth it to spend a little extra to buy a product from a company that puts quality and purity at the forefront of what they do.

Certifications:

Look for certifications from independent, third-party testing companies such as ConsumerLab and NSF International. These organizations provide quality testing and allow products that pass their tests to display a seal of quality assurance that indicates the product was properly manufactured, contains the ingredients listed on the label, and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.

Allergens:

It is also important to check the ingredient list for potential allergens. Though generally safe and of low risk, when incorporating a new herbal supplement you should also consult with your healthcare provider to check for contraindications or concerns. 

FAQs

Which natural sleep aid is most effective? 

In order to determine the efficacy of a natural sleep aid, we need to turn to the gold standard of research, randomized controlled trials. Unfortunately, there is not enough research on natural sleep aids to determine what natural product is the most effective.

Taking this into consideration, it is best to try a product that includes a blend of ingredients that have sleep-supporting and soothing properties or combining different products if needed. Melatonin and Valerian Root are two of the most widely used products and are the most studied.

Which natural sleep aid is the safest? 

Many natural sleep aids, when taken in the appropriate dosage by healthy adults, have few side effects however safety depends on a variety of factors. When determining what sleep aid is the safest for you it is important to consult with your healthcare provider.

Natural supplements are not well regulated so looking for third-party labels and certifications and doing your research is important. Dose and frequency should be considered and if you have food allergies or intolerances it is always important to check the labels of whatever product you buy. 

Which natural sleep aid is best for insomnia?

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, there is no recommended natural sleep aid for insomnia. Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can be acute or chronic. There are multiple ways to relieve insomnia, including therapeutic, environmental, and sometimes medical interventions. Experimenting with a natural sleep aid might be helpful, but you should re-consult with your healthcare team if symptoms are not relieved.

What Experts Say

"Optimal sleep is essential for both physical and mental health. Melatonin is a dietary supplement used as a sleep aid. There is little evidence to support its use, however it is generally considered safe and well-tolerated." —Tal Shachi, M.D.

Why Trust Verywell Mind?

Sydney Greene, MS, RD takes supplement recommendations seriously. Every product has been researched and vetted by her against clinical research, product reviews, and third-party testing websites. These are products she would not only feel comfortable recommending to her clients but she would take them herself if needed.

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Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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