8 Supplements for Improving Sleep

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Sleep Well: 8 Beneficial Supplements
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Adequate sleep is a fundamental physiological process crucial for overall health and well-being.

Healthy sleep involves a complex interplay of neurobiological and physiological mechanisms that contribute to our sleep-wake cycle.

The circadian rhythm, often referred to as the body's internal clock, plays a vital role in regulating the timing of sleep and wakefulness.

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Physiology of a Restful Sleep

The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the brain's hypothalamus acts as the master pacemaker, receiving input from light-sensitive cells in the retina and coordinating the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone, from the pineal gland. Melatonin levels rise in the evening, signaling the body that it's time to prepare for sleep.

The sleep process is further influenced by neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which help regulate sleep initiation and maintenance. Serotonin, a precursor to melatonin, promotes relaxation and a sense of calmness, while GABA acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, reducing brain activity and promoting sleepiness.

During sleep, different stages are orchestrated by the cyclic pattern of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. NREM sleep consists of three stages, each serving unique restorative functions.

Slow-wave sleep (NREM Stage 3) is particularly important for physical repair and growth, while REM sleep is associated with vivid dreaming and plays a vital role in cognitive processes and emotional regulation.

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a complex hormonal system, also impacts sleep. Cortisol, often referred to as the stress hormone, follows a diurnal rhythm, with higher levels in the morning to help us wake up and lower levels in the evening to facilitate sleep onset.

Chronic stress can disrupt this delicate balance, leading to sleep disturbances.

Supplements for improving sleep

Various lifestyle factors, such as diet, physical activity, and exposure to electronic devices, can influence sleep quality. Nutritional compounds like tryptophan, found in protein-rich foods, contribute to serotonin production and may support healthy sleep.

In summary, the physiology of healthy sleep involves intricate interactions between circadian rhythms, neurotransmitters, hormones, and lifestyle factors. Understanding these mechanisms empowers us to implement effective strategies and utilize sleep-supporting supplements to promote restorative and rejuvenating sleep patterns


Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland that plays a pivotal role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle, known as the circadian rhythm. Its synthesis is influenced by darkness and suppressed by light exposure.

As a supplement, melatonin exerts its effects by interacting with melatonin receptors in the brain, particularly MT1 and MT2 receptors. This interaction helps to reduce neural activity and promote drowsiness, leading to faster sleep onset and improved sleep quality.

  • Melatonin Time Release Extra Strength
    dietary supplement designed to support healthy sleep patterns


L-Theanine, commonly found in tea leaves, is an amino acid known for its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and modulate neurotransmitters. It stimulates the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety.

By increasing GABA levels, L-Theanine induces a calming effect on the central nervous system, ultimately improving sleep quality.

  • L-Theanine Double Strength
    NOW Foods
    L-theanine is an amino acid commonly found in green tea, known for its calming and relaxing properties


Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a critical role in various biochemical reactions in the body, including the regulation of neurotransmitters and muscle contractions.

Its relaxing properties can be attributed to its ability to antagonize calcium, an essential mineral for muscle contraction. By inhibiting calcium's effects, magnesium promotes muscle relaxation, which can lead to better sleep and reduced nighttime awakenings.

  • Magnesium CitraMate
    Thorne Research
    Magnesium as magnesium citrate and as magnesium malate)


Glycine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, primarily found in the spinal cord and brainstem. As a sleep aid, glycine reduces core body temperature, lowers adrenaline levels, and enhances NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep.

By modulating neurotransmitter activity, glycine contributes to improved sleep quality and may reduce sleep disturbances.

  • Glycine
    NOW Food
    Supports a calm and relaxed mood, aids in protein synthesis, and promotes overall wellness


5-HTP, or 5-Hydroxytryptophan, is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and sleep. Upon ingestion, 5-HTP is converted to serotonin in the brain, promoting relaxation and a sense of well-being.

Increased serotonin levels can lead to better sleep quality and a reduction in sleep disorders.

  • 5-HTP
    NOW Foods
    5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in mood regulation and sleep quality

Valerian Root

Valerian's sleep-enhancing properties are attributed to its interaction with GABA receptors in the brain.

Valerenic acid, a compound found in valerian root, inhibits the breakdown of GABA, leading to increased GABA levels and a calming effect on the central nervous system. This results in improved sleep latency and overall sleep quality.

  • Valerian Root
    NOW Foods
    This supplement is derived from Valeriana officinalis, a natural herb known for its calming properties.


The sedative effects of hops are primarily attributed to its alpha acid content. Alpha acids have been shown to bind to GABA receptors, leading to increased GABAergic activity and enhanced relaxation. This can aid in reducing anxiety and promoting restful sleep.

  • Hops
    This supplement may help promote a sense of calm and ease


Passionflower contains several compounds, including flavonoids and alkaloids, which have been found to exhibit anxiolytic and sedative properties. These compounds bind to benzodiazepine receptors, potentiating the effects of GABA and inducing relaxation and improved sleep quality.

  • Passion Flower
    The herbal supplement has calming and relaxing properties.

Conclusion about Nutritional Approaches to Improve Sleep

Prioritizing quality sleep is crucial for overall health and well-being. While a combination of lifestyle changes and good sleep hygiene practices play a significant role in promoting restful slumber, supplements can also offer valuable support.

The supplements mentioned in this article have demonstrated potential benefits in enhancing sleep quality and promoting relaxation. Melatonin, L-theanine, magnesium, glycine, 5-HTP, valerian, hops, and passionflower are among the beneficial compounds that can help improve sleep patterns.

It is important to remember that individual responses to supplements may vary, and consulting with a healthcare professional before adding any new supplement to your routine is advised, especially if you are taking medications or have underlying health conditions.

Additionally, adopting a well-balanced diet, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, and managing stress are essential components of a comprehensive approach to improving sleep quality.

In conclusion, incorporating these supplements along with healthy lifestyle habits can contribute to better sleep and overall wellness. Sweet dreams!

Ivan Vlasov
fitness coach project creator
Fitness, lifestyle, health — three main directions dedicated to this internet resource. I simply love what I do. That's why I created the 2GYM project. Learn more
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Ivan Vlasov
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