The 3 Best Vegan Sleep Aids That Actually Work [2020 Review]

sleep aids

Are you tired of rolling around in bed? Do you want to try out a vegan-friendly sleep aid but don’t know where to start? Well, you’re not alone.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, roughly 30% of Americans have to deal with insomnia and many others struggle with sleeplessness. If you’re struggling with occasional sleeplessness, then perhaps changing up your lifestyle habits might prove effective, but if you’re not able to do so, sleep aids can be a good short-term solution to reverse the problem.

In this article, we have included 5 vegan OTC and natural sleep aids that contain ingredients that may help reverse your unhealthy sleeping patterns.

Additionally, all of the brands mentioned in this article work with FDA-regulated (or the equivalent) and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certified facilities that ensure the safety and quality of each formula. 

3 Best Vegan Sleep Aids For A Restful Night’s Sleep

Performance Lab Sleep Aid

Unlike most sleep aids, Performance Lab has dropped synthetic melatonin and created a formula based on natural melatonin through Montmorency Tart Cherry.

This unique ingredient is naturally rich in melatonin, and also contains a good amount of tryptophan and anthocyanins, two compounds that may help the body create melatonin and lengthen its effects.

In fact, research shows that supplementing with this ingredient you can experience increased levels of melatonin and improve your sleep quality and duration.

Pros
  • Made from 100% vegan-friendly and natural ingredients
  • Ingredients are scientifically-proven to improve sleep quality and duration
  • Prebiotic capsules are easily digestible
  • Safe, non-habit forming support, as well as no groggy side effects
  • Stabilizes circadian rhythm against electronic screens and bad sleeping patterns

Cons
  • Not the cheapest sleep aid

Transparent Labs Sleep Aid

Transparent Labs usually does things in a similar fashion to Performance Lab but for this specific product, the formula is a bit different.

It contains natural ingredients like Tart Cherry Powder, but then you can also find synthetically-made ingredients like Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Zinc, Glycine, Theanine, Rutaecarpine, and Melatonin, making it also a more complete formula than the aforementioned.

This formula comes with 30 servings, but each serving is equivalent to taking 3 capsules at once, which doesn’t seem to be very convenient, especially for people that have trouble swallowing capsules.

Pros
  • Complete ingredient profile that may induce calming effects and improve sleep quality
  • Transparent Labs is a highly reputable supplement company that usually uses the right ingredients and dosages in their formulas
  • No artificial sweeteners, colors, or preservatives
  • More affordable than most complete sleep aids

Cons
  • 3 capsules per serving is not that convenient
  • Not that many customer reviews

Future Kind Natural Sleep Aid

Future Kind has combined all the available natural sleep ingredients to create a formula that not every brand is capable of delivering.

They use eight natural sleep ingredients that provide an impactful effect on sleep, anxiety, relaxation, and attention. Each Future Kind Sleep Aid bottle comes with 30 servings and each serving is delivered in two easily digestible capsules.

Additionally, the price point is as affordable as the Transparent Labs sleep aid, but it can be even more affordable if you decide to stick to their subscription model.

Pros
  • Natural ingredients with calm and sleep-inducing effects
  • Despite the naturalness, it’s quite affordable
  • Future Kind is a 100% vegan brand
  • 60-day Money Back Guarantee
  • No allergens or harmful, artificial ingredients

Cons

Some of the herbs have limited research available

Buyer’s Guide For Vegan Sleep Aids That Work

There’s a wide array of sleep aids for anyone with trouble sleeping, and that’s precisely the issue since it’s difficult to separate the good from the bad when they all make the same claims.

If you’re overwhelmed or confused about which vegan sleep aid to purchase, we have broken down the various types of sleep aids so that you better understand what’s available, and we’re also going to look at some of the ingredients that make sleep aids effective.

Different Types of Sleep Aids

Sleep aids are available in different types, including prescription pills, over the counter sleep aids, or natural sleep aids. And each option has its pros and cons, and what might work for you, might not work for someone else.

Over The Counter Sleep Aids

Over the counter sleep aids typically contain antihistamines, which are essentially present in common allergy medicine to tackle allergy symptoms. And since one of the side effects of antihistamines is drowsiness, they’re also used as sleep aids to curb sleeplessness.

However, there are forms of antihistamine that you can build-up tolerance for, which is they’re not recommended for long-term use.

Non-Prescription Natural Sleep Aids

For a natural solution that doesn’t require a prescription, there are several options available, both in-stores and online. Most of these supplements feature single herbs or amino acids that have been studied and are known to help with sleep. You can also find supplements with interesting blends of herbs, botanicals, amino acids, and melatonin. These generate little to no side effects.

Prescription Sleep Aids

If none of the options above work, your doctor might prescribe you with a drug to treat chronic insomnia or other sleep disorders. Hypnotics and benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed drugs, and they both cause side effects and dependency over time.

What To Look For In Sleep Aids

As we’ve just seen, the most common forms of sleep aids are the most easily accessible over the counter sleep aids like antihistamines that often feature properties like Diphenhydramine and Doxylamine Succinate, or the natural non-prescription sleep aids that typically contain ingredients such as melatonin or valerian.

The biggest benefit of these sleep aids is that you don’t require an expensive and time-consuming trip to the doctor’s office to get a prescription. In fact, all you need to do is either visit a physical health food store or pharmacy or do so via their respective online websites.

health store

Diphenhydramine

Diphenhydramine is used to reduce the build-up of histamines during allergy season, making you more prone to symptoms like congestion, itchy and swollen eyes, as well as a runny nose.

Anti-histamines block the effects of the substance called histamine in the body.

Usually, histamines are released by the body to fend off something harmful like an infection, causing blood vessels to expand and the skin to swell, which helps protect the body. But in the case of allergy symptoms, the body is mistaking harmless things such as pollen, animal hair, or house dust with something that is harmful, hence producing histamines.

Unfortunately for those with allergies, some anti-histamines have a side effect that makes them a rather troublesome option, specifically during the day. They can make you feel drowsiness and fatigue, which is why they may be optimal solutions for people with sleeping disorders.

However, other side effects are also possible, including constipation, dry mouth, blurred vision, urinary retention, and some may even lead to headaches.

Doxylamine Succinate

Doxylamine Succinate is another anti-histamine, but that is stronger than the aforementioned Diphenhydramine and is also a more expensive option. It’s often considered as an effective sleep aid because it takes longer to leave the body.

However, this also means that you’re more susceptible to feeling groggy or hungover the following day, which makes some people hesitate. This one takes a while longer to build-up tolerance for and so it may be an interesting option for people with authentic sleep disorders.

Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces naturally, but there are several reasons why your body may produce less than required for optimal sleep.

That includes reasons such as traveling across different time zones, changes in your daily schedule, or the use of artificial light or electronic screens in the evening. All of these factors may impact your body’s internal clock, which negatively affects the production of melatonin.

Melatonin has been researched and studies suggest that taking a melatonin supplement can reduce the amount of time it takes for you to fall asleep. However, the issue with some supplements is that they don’t contain effective dosages, which stand between 1-3 mg.

Melatonin is also known to have some side effects, including headaches and drowsiness, but I’m sure there’s hardly anything worse than not being able to sleep properly.

Valerian Root

Valerian root is a plant known for its medicinal properties throughout the ancient Greeks and Romans. It was used as a remedy for conditions such as anxiety, sleeplessness, and stress.

Valerian root can be administrated via tea, liquid, or capsules, and can be used isolated or in combination with other herbs or botanicals. Some studies show that valerian root can be effective against insomnia, but thus far there is little evidence to make that case.

However, it does seem, according to anecdotal evidence, that valerian root can improve your sleep cycle and overall sleep quality.

valerian root

Other Considerations & Side Effects

When Should You Take Sleep Aids?

According to a National Health and Nutrition Survey conducted by the CDC, 9 million Americans use prescribed sleep aids. While these are, in fact, helpful for most people that have a difficult time sleeping well, in some cases, they are unnecessary.

In other words, there are many lifestyle changes that people can adopt before turning to OTC sleep aids and other prescription pills. Exercise, good sleep hygiene, avoiding nicotine and alcohol, and limiting caffeine (especially during the evening) can help regulate the circadian rhythm and help with insomnia.

exercise = better sleep

If your lifestyle adjustments don’t do it and you suffer from insomnia or other severe sleep disorders, then you can try out sleep aids to improve sleep quality.

However, rely on temporary options and NOT long-term prescriptions that may cause dependency over time, which will eventually make your insomnia or sleep disorder worse. Temporary solutions can help you get back on track so you re-establish healthy sleeping patterns and relinquish the need for any medication.

Also, if you’re experiencing temporary sleeplessness due to issues such as jet lag, emotional trauma, or perhaps an illness, a sleep aid may be able to help you fall asleep faster so that you fall into your regular sleeping patterns.

If you have underlying conditions, then you may want to consider the use of long-term sleep aids that are less likely to counteract other medications you may be using. For instance, if you suffer from chronic insomnia or other more severe forms of sleep disorder, then the best thing to do is to visit your physician to find out what’s causing your symptoms and possible treatments.

When Should You Avoid Sleep Aids?

There are certain people that should avoid OTC or natural sleep aids, as they can pose a serious health risk. For these people, considering behavior changes or introducing new, healthy habits may be the ideal solution, however, only a physician can advise you properly.

  • Incompatible Medication, Alcohol, Drugs: Several prescriptions and over the counter medicines can interact negatively with sleep aids, so it’s important to speak with a physician or pharmacist if you’re taking other medications. Additionally, certain drugs and alcohol can boost the side effects of medication and should be avoided.
  • Pregnant or Breastfeeding: Many forms of medication are not safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding, as they can be supplied unintentionally to the baby through the placenta or through the actual milk.
  • Children: Children are physiologically different from adults, and at such a premature age, it’s not recommended to give children sleep aids. As a result, you may want to speak with a pediatrician and perhaps implement lifestyle changes (like swimming or track and field), so that the child can more easily maintain a regular bedtime routine. You can also consider using other tools such as a white noise machine and room darkening blinds.

What Are The Side Effects of Sleep Aids?

Just like any other medication, sleep aids can carry some side effects, even when it’s used for a short period of time. However, unlike sleep aids prescribed by a physician, OTC sleep aids usually have fewer side effects, though it also varies based on the individual.

Here are some of the possible side effects in sleep aids:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Loss of balance
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry nose, mouth, or throat
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Urinary retention
  • Dependency

side effects from sleep aids

Are Sleep Aids Safe?

Sleep aids are generally considered safe as long as you stick to the instructions that come on the label or within the product packaging. You should be particularly careful about taking sleep aids with another type of medication, which is why you should talk to your physician first.

Sleep aids should only be used temporarily in the short-term to fix potential sleep disorders, and not be seen as a long-term solution. There’s an increased risk of dependency and other adverse side effects when you consume sleep aids for an extended period.

In addition, sleep aids are not safe to use while you’re pregnant, breastfeeding a baby, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They should also not be combined with other medications.

And while sleep aids may cause side effects, if used for a short period of time, once you stop taking them, those side effects should vanish.

What To Do Before You Purchase Over The Counter Sleep Aids

Talk To Your Doctor or Physician

Before you decide to purchase any sleep aids, you should be willing to speak to a physician to understand whether or not taking a sleep aid is actually necessary. Perhaps considering behavioral or lifestyle changes like doing more exercise, setting up a sleep routine, or even abandoning caffeine altogether may be a preferable and healthier solution.

Adopt Different Behaviors

Before turning to medications, you should try adopting different behaviors or lifestyle solutions to tackle your symptoms. Cutting off caffeine, exercising, or implementing a bedtime routine are things that can seriously impact the quality of your sleep, so you should consider those before any OTC sleep aids or prescription pills.

Take Only The Recommended Dosage

Using a larger dosage other than the recommended dosage can be dangerous. It’s not unusual to see people desperately seeking a fix after the dosage they’ve been taking ceases to work. If you’ve been taking an OTC sleep aid for a while and you can’t still sleep properly, the remaining solution is to visit a physician.

Avoid Alcohol

Drinking alcohol can increase the sedative effects of sleep aids, and therefore is not recommended.

Conclusion

If you’ve been counting sheep every night and rolling around in bed desperately seeking the right position that will help you fall asleep, but you’re not seeing success… then sleep aids are typically effective (yet temporary) solutions for common sleep issues.

However, if your insomnia is ongoing, then you should speak to a physician to determine potential underlying conditions that may be severely impacting your sleep.

Trying out different lifestyle solutions is usually the best way to start, but if you simply can’t fall asleep after implementing new behaviors, there are OTC & natural sleep aids that can be very helpful in the short-term, which should enable you to get back to a good sleeping routine.

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About the Author: Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than three years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!