Sleep and Insomnia


Normal sleep is important for a healthy mind, body, and soul. The best approach to prevent long-term insomnia is usually some form of behavioral therapy, such as regular sleeping habits and reducing the amount of blue wavelength light at night. Regular exercise during the daytime and avoiding daytime naps can also help prevent difficulties sleeping at night. The ideal solution is to find out the cause of insomnia to better understand the best way to treat it. However, sometimes we may a little extra help using medications or supplements to get the sleep we deserve. Many of these products come in various formulations to help with specific sleeping problems. Some people may have problems falling asleep, while others may need help staying asleep. Here are some of the best medications, herbals, and supplements for a better sleep.




For most patients, diphenhydramine is a good choice due to its effectiveness. However, due to its side effects, some people may prefer another option. Melatonin is another popular choice for sleep. It is natural and comes in many formulations to best fit an individual’s needs. For patients who prefer an herbal product, valerian root is a good choice and can also have a calming effect. For people wanting to try a tea product, chamomile is commonly used. Final option is to use a combination-based product.




Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine used for many indications such as allergies and sleep. It is a traditional chemical drug and is known by other names like Benadryl and Unisom. Though effective, it is in the Beers List of potentially harmful drugs in the elderly due to its possible side effects of urine retention, confusion, and sedation.




Melatonin is a natural hormone that helps regulates the body’s sleep cycle and circadian rhythm. It is produced in low light conditions and suppressed by sunlight. Supplementation with melatonin can help as a sleep aid and recovery from jet lag. It comes in a wide range of formulations (immediate release, extended, delayed) to help alleviate different sleeping disorders.


Immediate release can help will getting to sleep quicker.


The extended release and biphasic formulation can with falling asleep and staying asleep longer.




Magnesium is mineral that is involved in many biological processes. It is involved with sleep through its interaction with the neurotransmitter GABA.


5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)


5-HTP is an amino acid that act as the building block for other important molecules in the body, like serotonin and melatonin. As a result, supplementation with 5-HTP is thought to reduce depression and improve sleep


Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA)


GABA is an inhibitor neurotransmitter responsible for sleep and has a calming effect.


Valerian root


Valerian is a flowering plant with the root/rhizome used medicinally. It is commonly used for relaxation and sleep. Extracts may be standardized to the valerenic acid component.


Kava kava


The root and stem of the kava plant are used medicinally to help support anxiety, relaxation, and sleep.


Passion flower


The aerial parts of the passion flower are used medicinally for anxiety and sleep. 




Chamomile is a flower that can be taken as a tea or supplement to help promote sleep and reduce anxiety.




The flower and leaf of the lavender plant are used medicinally for anxiety, mood, and sleep.