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How Much Do Supplements Help You Sleep?

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sleep-supplements-effectiveness John Howard/Digital Vision/Thinkstock

If you have been having trouble sleeping at night, you may have considered supplements to help you sleep. But how well do they work? And how safe are they?


Our body naturally has melatonin — it is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland. Melatonin is involved in the sleep-wake cycle, meaning it helps tell the body when it is time to go to sleep and when it is time to be awake. The supplement form of melatonin is synthetically made, and can be taken as a pill, or placed under the tongue or in the cheek.

Melatonin supplements have several uses, including insomnia, delayed sleep phase syndrome and insomnia due to health conditions and medications, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or beta-blockers. Some people may use melatonin to help with jet lag.

So how well do melatonin supplements work for sleep problems? MedlinePlus noted that melatonin is likely effective for people who are blind who have sleep disorders, and children with autism and developmental delays who have sleeping problems.

They added that melatonin is possibly effective for jet lag and insomnia, and possibly ineffective for adjusting sleep schedules. The MayoClinic.com stated that the effect of melatonin on decreasing the time for a person to fall asleep is mild.

Melatonin supplements do have several side effects. Common side effects of melatonin include dizziness, headaches and daytime sleepiness. Less common side effects include confusion, mild anxiety, irritability, abdominal discomfort and short periods of depression.


Another supplement that people may try to help them fall asleep is valerian. Derived from a plant, valerian may help decrease the time it takes for a person to fall asleep.

The active ingredient that helps people fall asleep is not clear: “there is no scientific agreement as to the active constituents of valerian, and its activity may result from interactions among multiple constituents rather than any one compound or class of compounds.

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EmpowHER Guest

Wow, Great article! I understand where you are coming from although I take sleep support supplements from time to time. I have problems with sleep because of an anxiety problem that I am currently seeking help for. I have found the best sleep supplements that work for me is from Blue Sky Vitamins. Occasionally I can make it through without them, although when I do have trouble sleeping I definitely take them.

November 27, 2012 - 5:47pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.