By Karen Appold
We did some research and compiled a list of five of the most common nutritional supplements for sleep.
5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), from the amino acid L-tryptophan, converts melatonin to serotonin. Ultimately, this increases serotonin levels in your brain, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter, regulates sleep. 5-HTP works well because it easily moves from the blood to the brain.
This nutrient helps to maintain proper and healthy nerve and muscle function, heart rhythm, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, strong bones, and immune system. Without proper magnesium (mg) levels, nerve cell communication is hampered. This can excite cells, causing stress and anxiety. Magnesium should not only help you sleep better, but it should also reduce the frequency of waking up throughout the night.
This hormone regulates your sleep/wake cycle and is naturally produced by your body when the sun sets. Research shows that melatonin helps you fall asleep, enhances sleep quality, and can also help ease jet lag.
This amino acid is derived naturally from green tea. It’s known to trigger the release of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which prevents nerve impulses from being transmitted. This brings on relaxation and lowers anxiety. It’s hard to absorb GABA-synthesized supplements, however, making theanine — which the body easily absorbs — a good alternative. It works by raising GABA levels and should relax you, as well as decrease stress. Green tea contains about 1 to 3 percent theanine.
This herb has been reported to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and increase the overall quality of sleep. It works better over time, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t notice much change after using it for just a few nights. Do not take valerian for longer than six weeks at a time.
Karen Appold is a medical writer based in Lehigh Valley, PA.