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Decoding the Mystery: Do Sleep Supplements Really Work?

Mar 20, 2024
 

A common question I get asked is what is the best supplement for insomnia? This is usually followed by something like is melatonin a good supplement for insomnia?  What about valerian or magnesium?

What follows is typically a whole long laundry list of supplements that someone has read about or tried in a bid to improve their sleep. Maybe you yourself are currently in this situation. If so then this blog post is for you.

Hi, my name is Sherry and I help people reduce stress and improve their sleep.

Given My Background I Should Be The Supplement Queen!

My primary training was originally in nutrition and acupuncture (Chinese medicine) and as such a large part of my practice used to be based on herbal medicine and supplement recommendations so it may surprise you that I do not recommend any supplements for chronic insomnia.

Why would this be?

Most Sleep Supplements Are Not Evidence Based

The truth is there's not really much evidence to support any supplement as a cure for chronic insomnia and the act of searching for the perfect sleep supplement can actually make insomnia worse.

This is because many people try a supplement and it either doesn’t work or maybe it will work temporarily and then stops working. At which point you rush for the next supplement which might work for a little while then it usually stops working as well. So you rush for the next supplement (do you see the pattern here?)

The truth is the insomnia is a symptom (not a disease) and supplements usually don't address the root cause of insomnia (especially when they are tried willy nilly based off tick tock or a google search). At the end of the day, this search leaves you just spending so much time (and money!) thinking about sleep, researching sleep, looking for this perfect supplement this magic pill but unfortunately, a magic pill for insomnia doesn't really exist, at least not in the physical sense of the word.

What Is Effective For Chronic Insomnia

There are a couple great treatments out there for chronic insomnia that have overwhelming clinical evidence to support their effectiveness. But many people with chronic insomnia haven't heard of them. I personally use a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia CBTI combined with ACTi (acceptance and commitment therapy for insomnia) and somatic coaching, which is a collection of techniques that help address the root cause of insomnia and will improve your sleep for the long term.

Furthermore, these techniques will teach you that you are capable of bringing your body into a state of relaxation and sleeping by yourself, without relying on any kind of supplement. It's so easy to become reliant on a supplement or a pill for sleep. It's so easy to believe that you slept just because you took a supplement or a pill. When the truth is it's only ever your own body that generates sleep.

Supplements Can Help You Relax But They Do Not Make You Sleep

Now a supplement or a pill might help you relax. And that can often be the biggest obstacle to first falling asleep. But sleep itself is only ever generated by your own body. So, when you take a supplement or pill, you never really learn to have confidence in your own sleep ability.

Because you can learn to think that you are only capable of sleeping when you take that supplement or pill and if that supplement or pill stops working then you need to look for a new supplement or pill that will work. And this really doesn't get to the root of the problem.

So, if you're one of these people that's looking for the ideal supplement or you've tried lots of different supplements or pills and you're still struggling with sleep, I really encourage you to investigate cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI) along with ACTi. These techniques are widely recognized as the gold standard for improving sleep for people with chronic insomnia.

When you're going through a course of CBTI and ACTi, you're given a clear roadmap to follow. You no longer have to think about looking for new supplements or implementing new techniques. You no longer have to research insomnia or think about sleep, you can just detach and implement the techniques. Focus on practicing the techniques, learn to listen to your body, and your sleep will improve over the long term. And perhaps more importantly, you will once again learn and believe that you can sleep all by yourself, which will help you regain confidence in your ability to sleep.

Interested in Learning More?

If you would like to learn more or book an individual session, please visit the Work With Me page or enroll in the 30 Day Beyond Sleep Course

In the meantime, I would like to leave you with this important message. You are not broken! You are whole, perfect, and healthy exactly as you are, and you CAN sleep!

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