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12 Melatonin Alternatives for Better Sleep

If you’ve been on the search for a restful night's sleep, you may have heard about melatonin supplements. However, not everyone wants to rely on melatonin due to various reasons such as sensitivity to the supplement or personal preferences. Fortunately, there are natural alternatives that can help improve sleep without melatonin. In this article, we will explore some of these alternatives, focusing on their benefits and how they may help you achieve a peaceful slumber. Let’s dive in.

Why You Might Need a Melatonin Alternative

Melatonin has become a well-known solution for those struggling with sleep disorders. However, there are several reasons why you might seek alternatives to this natural sleep hormone.

In the United Kingdom, accessing melatonin isn't as simple as popping into a local health store or adding it to your online shopping basket. Melatonin is considered a medicine and therefore requires a prescription from a healthcare professional. This regulation ensures that its usage is monitored and given only when necessary, as it can affect other hormones and physiological systems.

Plus, while melatonin can be effective, it's not a one-size-fits-all remedy. Some individuals may find that melatonin supplements feel a bit too heavy, leading to grogginess the next morning rather than the restful awakening they crave. This can be particularly challenging for those with sensitive systems or for whom precise dosing is difficult to manage.

Additionally, like any supplement, melatonin can have side effects. Some people might experience headaches, dizziness, or even short-term feelings of depression. Given these possibilities, exploring gentler, more holistic approaches to improving sleep can be a wise move, especially if you're looking for solutions that align more closely with your body's natural rhythms and needs.

With these considerations in mind, let’s explore the various natural alternatives that may help enhance your sleep without relying on melatonin supplements.

12 Alternatives to Melatonin for Better Sleep

1. Verve V80

The Verve V80 is a revolutionary greens powder that stands out in the wellness market for its meticulously selected blend of 80 ingredients, aimed at optimizing health with over 200+ science-backed benefits, one of which is also improved sleep.

Learn more about Verve V80 below. 

Learn more about Verve V80 
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Among its standout ingredients are ashwagandha, magnesium, reishi mushroom, L-theanine, and barley grass—each of which could be considered a melatonin alternative because they improve sleep quality. 

2. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a powerful herb used in Ayurvedic healing practices for thousands of years. It's known as an adaptogen, which means it helps the body manage stress more effectively. The herb does this by modulating the balance of stress hormones, such as cortisol, produced by the adrenal glands. Elevated cortisol levels, particularly at night, can disrupt natural sleep patterns, leading to insomnia and restless sleep.

 Indeed, research points to ashwagandha's ability to improve sleep onset latency, which is the amount of time it takes to transition from full wakefulness to sleep, and to enhance overall sleep quality.

3. Magnesium

Magnesium is a fundamental mineral that's crucial for many processes in the body, including sleep. Its calming effect on the nervous system makes it an excellent choice for those who struggle to unwind and relax at the end of the day. Magnesium aids in the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for promoting calm and relaxation in the body.

Furthermore, magnesium regulates the neurotransmitter GABA, facilitating deeper, more restful sleep. It can also help alleviate muscle cramps and discomfort, which can often interfere with sleep. For individuals dealing with restless leg syndrome or other conditions that involve muscular tension and spasm, magnesium can be particularly beneficial.

To optimize your magnesium intake, you can look to dietary sources such as leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. However, for a more concentrated approach, magnesium supplements can be taken in the form of tablets, capsules, or even as a topical magnesium oil or lotion that can be applied to the skin before bedtime.

 Keep in mind that it's important to choose the right type of magnesium, as some forms are more easily absorbed by the body than others. Magnesium glycinate, for instance, is often recommended for its high bioavailability and minimal gastrointestinal side effects.

4. Lavender

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has been cherished for its unmistakable aroma and myriad therapeutic benefits, which include its ability to induce calm and improve sleep. 

The primary compound in lavender oil, linalool, has been studied for its sedative effects and ability to interact with the nervous system to alleviate stress and anxiety. When the scent of lavender is inhaled, it can directly affect brainwave patterns, promoting feelings of tranquility. Research suggests that using lavender oil in aromatherapy can enhance sleep quality, increase time spent in deep sleep, and make it easier to fall asleep.

In practical terms, you can use lavender essential oil in a diffuser in your bedroom for about 30 minutes before you go to sleep. Additionally, consider adding a few drops to a warm bath or mix it with a carrier oil like jojoba or almond oil for a relaxing pre-sleep massage. Even simply sprinkling a few drops on your pillowcase can create a calming atmosphere conducive to sleep.

5. Barley Grass

Barley grass, the young, soft green shoots that crop up on the barley plant, is packed with health-benefiting nutrients. It is a source of magnesium, which can be particularly beneficial for sleep as it helps maintain healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation and stress relief. Additionally, barley grass is high in tryptophan, an amino acid that the body converts to serotonin, which is then used to make melatonin, the sleep-regulating hormone.

Beyond its magnesium and tryptophan content, barley grass is also rich in chlorophyll, antioxidants, and vitamins that support overall wellness, which can indirectly contribute to improved sleep by promoting a healthier, more balanced body.

6. Reishi Mushroom

Reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum) are not only valued for their immunity-boosting effects but also for their potential to aid in sleep. These mushrooms contain compounds such as triterpenoids, polysaccharides, and peptidoglycans, which may have sedative effects when consumed. Reishi can act on the central nervous system, promoting a state of calm that is ideal for transitioning into restful sleep.

It's possible to consume reishi in various forms, including teas, tinctures, and supplements. For sleep, many experts recommend taking reishi about an hour before bedtime to help encourage a calm state and assist with falling asleep faster.

Related: What’s so great about Reishi and Shiitake Mushrroms? 

7. L-Theanine

L-Theanine is an amino acid that has been associated with relaxation and improved sleep. Commonly found in tea leaves, especially in green tea, L-Theanine promotes relaxation without sedation, meaning it can help you feel calm and relaxed without causing drowsiness. 

It does this by increasing the levels of GABA, dopamine, and serotonin in the brain, neurotransmitters that help regulate emotions, mood, concentration, alertness, and sleep, as well as appetite, energy, and other cognitive skills.

When it comes to sleep, L-Theanine can help reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and improve the quality of sleep. It’s a great option for those who want to achieve a peaceful state of mind at the end of the day.

8. Valerian Root

Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis) has been used for centuries as a remedy for various ailments, including sleep disorders. Known for its sedative qualities, valerian root may improve the amount and quality of sleep. Valerian works by increasing GABA levels in the brain, which helps to reduce brain activity and allow users to fall asleep more easily.

It’s recommended to take valerian root approximately 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. It can be consumed in capsule form, as a tea, or as a tincture. However, it should be used with caution, as some people may experience side effects such as vivid dreams or drowsiness in the morning.

9. Chamomile

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is well-known for its calming properties, often consumed in the form of tea as a natural remedy to reduce inflammation, decrease anxiety, and treat insomnia. The sleep-inducing effects of chamomile are attributed to the flavonoid apigenin, which binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain, which play a key role in inducing sleepiness and reducing anxiety.

Chamomile tea is best enjoyed as part of your bedtime routine. Drinking a warm cup of chamomile tea about 30 minutes before you plan to go to bed may help to calm your mind and relax your body, making it easier to drift off to sleep.

10. Passionflower

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is another herbal remedy that has traditionally been used to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and insomnia. Like valerian, passionflower boosts levels of GABA in the brain, creating a calming effect. It can be particularly helpful for those whose sleep difficulties are related to anxiety.

To use passionflower for sleep, try drinking a cup of passionflower tea, or taking it as a supplement or extract before bedtime.

11. Glycine

Glycine is a non-essential amino acid that has been found to play a role in the quality of sleep. It helps lower core body temperature, which signals to the body that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep. It has also been shown to help people fall asleep more quickly, and to achieve deeper, more restorative sleep.

Glycine supplements can be taken shortly before bedtime to promote better sleep quality. It’s also found naturally in foods such as bone broth, meat, eggs, poultry, and fish.

12. Tart Cherry Juice

Tart cherry juice is rich in anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that may contribute to the increase of melatonin production in the body. The natural melatonin in tart cherry juice can improve the duration and quality of sleep. Additionally, tart cherries contain anti-inflammatory properties and may help in reducing pain, which could be particularly beneficial for those whose sleep is disturbed by physical discomfort.

For best results, consume tart cherry juice in the evening or one to two hours before bed.

Final Thoughts

Verve tin with glass on pedestal

Incorporating these natural sleep aids into your routine could be the key to unlocking better sleep. Alongside trying these alternatives, don't forget the importance of a balanced diet and lifestyle to support your overall well-being. 

If you’re looking to enhance their diet, Verve V80 can be a valuable addition. It’s not only the most nutrient-dense drink on the market, with 80 ingredients and 200+ science-backed health benefits, but also a practical choice that is transparent about its contents and infused with real fruit for a pleasant taste.

Learn more about Verve V80

Better sleep is a critical component of good health, and exploring natural alternatives to melatonin can be a gentle way to encourage restful nights. To find out more about how Verve V80 can fit into your healthy lifestyle and potentially support your sleep, feel free to delve deeper into its benefits and how it might complement your journey towards improved wellbeing.

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