How do melatonin, CBD, and other popular sleep supplements function?

How do melatonin, CBD, and other popular sleep supplements function?

Many individuals suffer from sleep problems, with only 42 percent reporting good or very good sleep quality, according to a nationally representative survey conducted by Consumer Reports in October 2022.

It’s no surprise that a significant number of people seek supplements to aid in achieving a good night’s sleep. In fact, Consumer Reports conducted a representative survey of 3,070 US adults in the summer of 2022, which revealed that improving sleep was one of the top three reasons for supplement use. Approximately one in three Americans have tried using supplements to enhance their sleep quality.

Melatonin emerged as the most popular sleep supplement in the study. Other commonly mentioned supplements include Cannabidiol (CBD) and magnesium. Some vitamins and supplements, such as valerian, iron, and vitamin D, are also occasionally recommended for their potential sleep-enhancing effects. But what benefits do these substances truly offer in terms of achieving restful sleep?


Your body operates on an internal clock known as the circadian rhythm. Melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone, signals to your brain that it’s time to sleep. This explains why a melatonin supplement is often taken before bedtime. Research suggests that taking melatonin can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep by an average of seven minutes and can be beneficial for individuals with conditions like jet lag or delayed sleep phase syndrome. However, it is important to avoid consuming high doses of melatonin over an extended period to prevent disruption of your body’s natural melatonin production.


CBD, a non-psychoactive compound derived from hemp or marijuana, is used by some people to alleviate anxiety and promote sleep. A 2017 article suggested that CBD might be a viable treatment for insomnia, but further long-term studies are necessary to confirm its efficacy. According to researchers, consuming CBD at bedtime can be beneficial as long as proper sleep habits are practiced and no other medications are taken concurrently. It is always advisable to consult with a doctor before using CBD or any other supplement.


Magnesium, a mineral, can help reduce stress and induce relaxation before sleep. It can be taken in tablet form or added to beverages in powder form. However, there is limited research in this area. While some studies have indicated that magnesium can improve sleep quality, its effectiveness in addressing sleep disorders like insomnia and restless leg syndrome remains uncertain. It is important to note that magnesium oxide or citrate types, commonly used as laxatives, should be avoided for sleep purposes.


Iron deficiency is closely linked to restless leg syndrome, a condition characterized by uncomfortable sensations in the limbs and an uncontrollable urge to move them, ultimately disrupting sleep. If you suspect this is your issue, it is advisable to consult a doctor. Taking iron supplements can mask underlying serious problems, and excessive supplementation in individuals without deficiency can lead to iron overload, which can harm organs.

Vitamin D

Emerging evidence suggests a connection between low levels of vitamin D and sleep problems. A study published in 2018 examined 89 adults with sleep disorders and discovered that those with low (but not deficient) vitamin D levels experienced improved sleep duration and quality after taking regular supplements for eight weeks. However, other research has shown no effect or even worsening of sleep problems with vitamin D supplementation. It is crucial to consult with a doctor to determine if vitamin D supplementation is appropriate for addressing your sleep issues.


Valerian root has been used for centuries to treat insomnia. Several studies suggest that this supplement may expedite sleep onset and reduce nighttime awakenings. However, the efficacy of valerian remains uncertain due in part to inconsistent quality and stability of its active ingredients.

While the mentioned supplements may be worth trying, establishing a consistent sleep routine is key. Relaxation free from screens, minimizing alcohol intake, and avoiding caffeine after noon can also contribute to better sleep quality. For individuals with sleep disorders, medication or cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia may also be effective forms of treatment.

Source: (EN)

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