Living with Chronic Pain

Supplement Options for the Treatment of Insomnia


In addition to conventional medical treatments and practicing good sleep hygiene, various supplements, vitamins, and herbs can be beneficial in the treatment of insomnia.

  • Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body. Melatonin levels naturally rise in the evening and promote sleep. Taking a melatonin supplement can help individuals with insomnia fall asleep faster and increase the total amount of sleep.
  • L-Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is found in plant and animal proteins. When consumed, the body converts it into 5-hydroxytryptophan and then to serotonin, melatonin, and vitamin B6. Serotonin and melatonin are both positively associated with quality sleep. L-tryptophan may increase total sleep time and improve sleep quality. However, it should not be taken with certain medications, including some antidepressants.
  • Glycine is also an amino acid that can improve sleep. Although the precise way glycine supports sleep is not known, it may work, in part, by lowering body temperature, a signal that it is time to sleep.
  • Valerian is a flowering plant native to Europe. The root of the plant is available in pill form. Taking valerian root may make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. It may also improve sleep quality.
  • Magnesium is a mineral that is necessary for many processes in the human body. It supports quality sleep in two ways. First, magnesium helps relax the mind and body because it increases levels of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. Second, magnesium helps regulate the body’s production of melatonin which supports healthy sleep.
  • Passion flower is a flowering vine native to the Southeastern United States, Central America, and South America. Passion flower has calming and sleep-inducing effects. It may be more effective when infused into tea than when taken in pill form.
  • L-Theanine is an amino acid commonly found in tea leaves. Studies show that L-theanine can improve sleep quality, encouraging longer and more restful sleep. It can be taken in pill form or can be consumed by drinking tea containing L-theanine.
  • Lemon balm, or Melissa officinalis, is a herb from the mint family. It is native to Europe, North Africa and West Africa, but it’s grown around the world. The leaves, which have a mild lemon scent, are infused into teas and are also available in pill form. Lemon balm appears to affect the central nervous system, soothing stress and anxiety. As a sleep aid, it is often used alone or combined with valerian root or passion flower.

Because taking supplements, vitamins, and herbs can produce unwanted side effects or interact with certain medications, consulting a physician or pharmacist before taking any new supplement is recommended.