The Best Supplements for Better Sleep, According to a Doctor

There’s more than just melatonin.

It can be difficult to get enough sleep, especially if you're struggling with sleep disorders like sleep apnea or insomnia. Getting enough sleep is important for a healthy lifestyle, and a nutritious diet can help improve sleep quality. But when you feel like you've tried it all, there may be other solutions.

That's why we sat down with the founder of Revivele and sleep expert Kavita Desai, Pharm.D., to learn more about the best supplements you can take for a better sleep cycle. Read on to find out what nutrients your body may need for a restful sleep.


This probably isn't a shock, but melatonin is one of the top hormones that your body produces for better sleep. Taking a melatonin supplement may help you fall asleep, but according to Desai, you should start with a lower dosage.

"If you're really struggling or if you have jet lag, it can really help put you back into the right sleep cycle," Desai said. "Generally, you can start with a lower dose of that and then work up, just to see how groggy you feel in the morning."

Additionally, if you prefer a food-first approach like we typically do, there are several food sources of melatonin including grapes, cherries, tomatoes, peppers, legumes, nuts and eggs.


While magnesium is an important nutrient for your body and can help with sleep, Desai cautioned against high-dose magnesium as it can have side effects that impact your digestive system.

"With magnesium, you have to be careful because a lot of [supplements] activate the gut, so you can end up with loose stools," she warned. "And a lot of them are not well absorbed, but I will recommend magnesium glycinate … it does promote relaxation and sleep."

There are a ton of magnesium-rich foods that can help you hit the mark without the worry of too high of a dose, like pumpkin seeds, almonds, spinach and brown rice. That way, you can reap the benefits of the nutrient, like bone health support, reduced inflammation and improved sleep quality.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D can not only support your bones, muscles and immune system, but it can also help improve your sleep cycle. Other than a supplement, eggs, milk, orange juice and salmon are all good sources of vitamin D if you're looking for foods that can improve your intake.

"There's so many health benefits to vitamin D, as it helps prevent a lot of chronic diseases," Desai said. "It's also great for bone health, it helps absorb calcium, and it can also help with your sleep cycle."

an illustration of someone sleeping
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"L-theanine is known to be very relaxing, so that's another supplement that can be taken in the evening," Desai shared. Found in tea and some mushrooms, L-theanine is an amino acid that relaxes the body and can help reduce stress.


You may have never heard of tryptophan, but you've definitely experienced its heavy-eyed symptoms after enjoying your Thanksgiving turkey (although much of that fatigue could be more related to overeating than to tryptophan itself). Tryptophan is an amino acid found in foods like turkey, eggs, barley and corn that helps promote healthy sleep cycles.

"If you're really struggling with sleep and you want to try something that will make you drowsy, [tryptophan] is always something that can be tried," Desai added.

The Bottom Line

Desai's insights were incredibly helpful in understanding the best supplements you can take for better sleep. These nutrients can also be found in food, so try including a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods into your diet if you haven't already. And always be sure to talk to your doctor or registered dietitian to determine whether a supplement could be a good fit for you. If you're looking for more from Desai, check out her book Lady Parts: Putting Women's Health Back Into Women's Hands.

Up next: The 11 Items Our Editors Love to Get a Good Night's Sleep, Starting at $14

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