Sleep Supplements: The Pros and Cons


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — From insomnia to restless leg syndrome to sleep apnea – more than 50 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. Sleep aids and supplements are the first things most people reach for when experiencing these problems, but recent research suggests that one is better than the other.

With sleep disorders on the rise, many people are turning to supplements.

“Sleep is like a medicine. That’s your time when you rejuvenate. You grow again. You feel relaxed, fulfilled,” explains Jagdish Khubchadani, PhD, Prof. of Public Health at New Mexico State University.

Research at Johns Hopkins suggests that melatonin may help reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and improve overall sleep quality, particularly for those with insomnia or jet lag and that’s important because:

Lourdes DelRosso, MD, MS, Prof. of Family Medicine at University of California, San Francisco explains, “This pattern of restless sleep affects the daytime functioning.”

However, melatonin is not without its drawbacks. Some people may experience side effects such as daytime drowsiness, headaches, or dizziness. Also, melatonin is not regulated by the FDA … and some doctors prefer self-care such as:

“Maintaining a schedule, keeping technology away in the bedroom, not drinking coffee and alcohol before you sleep. Those are three basic things that you can do to ensure that you’re getting good quality sleep and are at lower risk for health problems,” says Professor Khubchadani.

The other commonly used sleep supplement is magnesium. It helps with muscle relaxation, lowers cortisol levels, and increases the hormone melatonin. The only downside is that it takes longer to work.

Ultimately, doctors say magnesium is better for long-term use. Not only does it improve sleep quality, but it also lowers blood pressure and lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis. The bottom line:

Professor Khubchadani says, “Sleep is the best medicine available for free and maintaining it should be a number one priority.”

Another sleep supplement to look into is valerian root. It has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for insomnia and anxiety, and some studies suggest that it may help improve sleep quality and duration of sleep.

Contributors to this news report include: Adahlia Thomas, Producer; Joe Drumm, Editor.



REPORT #3189

BACKGROUND: Insomnia is when you aren’t sleeping as you should. That can mean you aren’t sleeping enough, you aren’t sleeping well or you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep. For some people, insomnia is a minor inconvenience but for others, insomnia can be a major disruption. The reasons why insomnia happens can vary widely. Science is still unlocking an understanding of why sleep is so important to your body. Experts do know that when you don’t sleep enough, it can cause sleep deprivation, which is usually unpleasant (at the very least) and keeps you from functioning at your best. Both the acute and chronic forms of insomnia are very common. Roughly 1 in 3 adults worldwide have insomnia symptoms, and about 10% of adults meet the criteria for insomnia disorder. (Sources:

SYMPTOMS: The symptoms of insomnia include various sleep-related difficulties and daytime problems. Common sleep issues that can signal the presence of insomnia include many things, such as the most obvious one like having trouble falling asleep, trying to stay asleep throughout the night. In addition, insomnia causes daytime symptoms related to sleep loss. Those with insomnia often report feeling fatigued during waking hours, which may lead to impaired attention or memory. Insomnia-related sleepiness can affect work, school or social performance, and increase the risk of accidents. Insomnia has the potential to negatively influence behavioral health and may contribute to instances of irritability, hyperactivity, or aggressiveness, especially in children. While there is no main cause of insomnia research suggests that in many people insomnia likely results from certain types of physiological arousal at unwanted times, disrupting normal patterns of sleep. It can include things like a heightened heart rate, a higher body temperature, and increased levels of specific hormones, like cortisol.


SLEEP SUPPLEMENTS: Research at Johns Hopkins suggests that melatonin may reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and improve overall sleep quality, particularly for those with insomnia or jet lag. However keep in mind this over-the-counter supplement is not herbal—it’s a hormone. And it’s not fully regulated by the US FDA. Studies have found some supplements far exceed the amount of melatonin listed on the label. Magnesium encourages sleep in a variety of ways. For one, it creates and interacts with GABA, a sleep-related neurotransmitter. The mineral also helps calm the body, particularly muscles and there are mental health benefits as well, since magnesium can help lower anxiety, lower your blood pressure and risk for type two diabetes and osteoporosis.


* For More Information, Contact:

Barbara A. Clements                     Jagdish Khubchadani, PhD

Media Relations Mgr.                    New Mexico State University

UW Medicine                       


Telephone: 206-221-6706

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