A review of three melatonin free sleep aids that contain science-backed, natural sleep inducing ingredients to help you get a good night’s sleep whether you are in the middle of the baby years or have made it to menopause.
Oh to get a good night’s sleep! I don’t think I’ve actually had one since I gave birth to my first child.
First it’s the sleepless nights with baby, then the sicknesses and bad dreams of childhood. And when you think you’ve finally graduated from all that, you hit the stay-out-late teenage years (and who can sleep when your kid’s not home yet)?!!
And then you hit perimenopause and menopause – and the hot flashes start and the sleep disruption continues….
This blog post is not meant to diagnose or treat any medical condition, including sleep disorders. Please consult your doctor before taking any dietary supplement.
Melatonin Free Ingredients to Look For in Sleep Aids
After SO many years of not enough sleep, I found myself in desperate need of a sleep aid of some sort.
But not just any old sleep aid from the drug store – I wanted to use a natural sleep supplement made with clean ingredients, and without any artificial fillers, colors or flavors.
And I was looking for something other than melatonin. Melatonin supplements are great for managing your sleep during times of transition, like daylight saving time or for jet lag, but it’s not meant to be used as a sleep aid on an ongoing basis.
After doing some research on natural sleep remedies, I’ve discovered the best active ingredients to look for in a sleep supplement:
Gaba (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) is a widely studied neurotransmitter that helps put your brain into sleep mode for the night and calms the overactive mind. Low GABA activity is linked to insomnia and disrupted sleep. (source)
Magnesium glycinate (or bisglycinate) is a highly absorbable form of magnesium that promotes a deep and restorative sleep. One of the many benefits of magnesium is that it helps regulate Gaba, which helps power you down and get ready for sleep. (source) Magnesium supplements can also help with muscle relaxation and help improve restless leg syndrome, another disorder that can keep people up at night. (source)
Jujube is a fruit used in Traditional Chinese medicine. It helps to calm the mind and quiet neural activity, which helps to induce sleep. (source). Clinical studies have found that the consumption of the jujube seed had a positive impact on the sleep quality of postmenopausal women. (source)
L-theanine is an amino acid that is clinically proven to reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, and to reduce insomnia. (source)
Reishi mushroom is an adaptogenic mushroom used in Traditional Chinese medicine that has been shown to support longer sleep time. (source)
Passionflower is an herb that is clinically proven to calm the mind and promote longer, quality sleep. (source) Passionflower appears to boost the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. (source)
5-HTP is a botanically derived compound of an amino acid that promotes a calm and relaxed mood by increasing serotonin, which can be converted into the hormone melatonin. A study has shown that a combination of 5-HTP and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) reduced the time it took to fall asleep, increased sleep duration and improved sleep quality. (source)
CBD is a phytocannabinoid derived from the hemp plant. Phytocannabinoids work naturally within the body to help regulate processes like appetite, mood and sleep. Studies have shown a connection between CBD and improved sleep. (source)
Related: The Natural Supplements I Take Daily
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The Melatonin Free Sleep Aids I Recommend
In order to properly test these sleep supplements, I needed to try them for myself. So I requested samples from three different natural sleep aid formulas – from mindbodygreen, Prima and Hilma. I used each of them every night for at least a full month in order to assess their effectiveness.
The first sleep supplement I tried was the mindbodygreen Sleep Support+ and I definitely noticed a difference in the quality of my sleep after using it for one month straight! The other two brands worked well for me too. All three of them helped me to get into a healthy sleep cycle and get more restful sleep overall.
One caveat – these sleep formulas do NOT make hot flashes disappear. Nor will they keep your baby from waking up in the middle of the night. But we take what we can get, right? And any bit of sleep support helps!
(These supplements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.)
mindbodygreen Sleep Support+ Review
mindbodygreen makes all natural supplements with targeted nutrients and bioactives, in carefully calculated doses, that work synergistically to radically transform your health and help you get better sleep.
mindbodygreen’s Sleep Support+ is a science-backed sleep formula that helps you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up feeling refreshed by supporting your natural circadian rhythm.
- Key Ingredients: magnesium bisglycinate, PharmaGABA®, jujube seed extract
- Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, non-GMO
- Take two capsules of sleep support daily 1-2 hours before bedtime.
- Cost: $49 subscription price, $60 one-time price for 60 capsules
- My take: This was the first natural sleep supplement that I tried and I highly recommend it!
Take 15% off your first order with code MM15 at checkout.
Prima Sleep Tight Review
Prima makes doctor formulated, holistically designed formulas using hemp CBD and a variety of natural, synergistic ingredients to help you reset, replenish and thrive.
Prima’s Sleep Tight formula is made with CBD and other calming ingredients designed to help you sleep deeply and wake up refreshed.
- Key Ingredients: organic broad-spectrum hemp CBD, 5-HTP, Gaba, passionflower extracts, California poppy extracts, hops extract, chamomile flower extract, lavender essential oil
- Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, non-GMO
- Take 2 softgels before bedtime
- Cost: $40.80 subscription price, $48 one-time price for 60 capsules
- My take: I like the fact that this formula has CBD and so many other beneficial ingredients.
- Prima has also has a Daily CBD supplement that I love too.
Take 20% off with code MINDFUL20 at checkout.
Hilma Sleep Support Review
Hilma makes natural remedies with clean ingredients that are backed by clinical trials – and most important – they make natural remedies that REALLY WORK!
Hilma’s natural sleep support remedy is made with four powerful ingredients proven to improve sleep.
- Key Ingredients: magnesium glycinate, L-theanine, reishi mushroom, passionflower
- Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, non-GMO
- Take two capsules 30-60 minutes before going to bed.
- Cost: $19.80 subscription price, $22 one-time price for 50 capsules
- My take: I appreciate the lower price of this one, but I wish it had Gaba in the formula.
Take 20% off with code MINDFULMOMMA20 at checkout.
Natural Sleep Supplement FAQs
What’s wrong with melatonin in a nightly sleep aid? Melatonin is a hormone that plays an important role in the sleep-wake cycle and is generally safe for short-term use (source). However, long-term use of melatonin can have some negative side-effects including dizziness, headache and excessive daytime sleepiness. You can also develop a tolerance to melatonin, making it even more difficult to fall asleep naturally. It’s best to keep melatonin for occasional use and opt for natural sleep supplements that are melatonin-free for nightly use.
How long will it take for my sleep supplements to work? For most people, it will take at least 2 to 3 weeks to adjust to a natural sleep aid formula and achieve a steady state of improved sleep. It is also important to have good sleep hygiene practices like avoiding caffeine and limiting blue light, to help you wind down before bed.
Can I take a sleep supplement if I am pregnant or breastfeeding? While the ingredients in these natural sleep aids are generally considered safe, if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding, it is important to consult your health care practitioner before using any dietary supplement.