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The Best Natural Nootropics to Improve Sleep Quality

Nootropics, often referred to as "smart drugs" or cognitive enhancers, are substances that aim to improve mental functions such as memory, creativity, and attention.

As the demand for cognitive enhancement grows, so does the interest in natural nootropics, which offer the benefits of traditional cognitive enhancers without the side effects often associated with synthetic drugs.

One of the most crucial aspects of our health, yet frequently overlooked, is sleep. Quality sleep is vital for maintaining overall health, cognitive function, and emotional well-being. Given the increasing prevalence of sleep disorders and the adverse effects of poor sleep, there is a rising interest in natural remedies that can enhance sleep quality.

This blog explores various natural nootropics that have been shown to improve sleep, providing a holistic approach to achieving better rest.


Table of Contents

  • Understanding Sleep and Natural Nootropics
  • Top Natural Nootropics for Sleep
  • How to Incorporate Natural Nootropics into Your Routine


The Best Natural Nootropics to Improve Sleep Quality


A pink retro alarm clock showing 3:00, symbolizing the importance of maintaining a regular sleep schedule.


Understanding Sleep and Natural Nootropics

Defining Sleep and Its Importance

Sleep is a fundamental physiological process that every human requires for optimal health and functioning.

It is a complex, dynamic state involving multiple systems in the brain and body, crucial for restoration, memory consolidation, and various metabolic processes. Sleep can be categorized into two primary types: non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

NREM sleep consists of three stages, ranging from light sleep to deep sleep, while REM sleep is characterized by vivid dreaming and plays a critical role in emotional regulation and memory processing​​.

What Are Natural Nootropics?

Natural nootropics are substances derived from plants, herbs, and other natural sources that enhance cognitive function and overall brain health. Unlike pharmaceutical options, natural nootropics often come with fewer side effects and provide additional health benefits, such as antioxidant properties and improved blood circulation to the brain.

These substances can enhance mental functions by altering neurotransmitter levels, stimulating neurotransmitter release, or enhancing receptor sensitivity​​.

The Role of Neurotransmitters in Regulating Sleep

Neurotransmitters play a pivotal role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a primary inhibitory neurotransmitter that promotes sleep by inhibiting wake-promoting neurons.

Conversely, neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are involved in promoting wakefulness and maintaining alertness during the day. The balance and interaction of these neurotransmitter systems are essential for maintaining healthy sleep patterns and overall cognitive function​​.



Top Natural Nootropics for Sleep


Natural Production and Role in Sleep Regulation

  • Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the pineal gland in the brain, primarily released in response to darkness. It helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle by signaling the body to prepare for sleep. Melatonin levels rise in the evening, promoting drowsiness, and fall in the morning, helping to wake the body.

How It Works: Signalling the Body to Prepare for Sleep

  • Melatonin supplements mimic the effects of the natural hormone, effectively helping to adjust the body's internal clock. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals experiencing jet lag, shift work, or insomnia. By aligning the body's circadian rhythms, melatonin can significantly improve sleep onset and quality ​.

Benefits and Supporting Research

  • Research shows that melatonin supplementation can enhance sleep quality, reduce sleep onset latency, and improve overall sleep efficiency without significant side effects. It is especially useful for those with circadian rhythm disorders​​.



Common Sources

  • L-Theanine is an amino acid commonly found in green tea leaves. It has been a part of traditional tea consumption for its calming effects without causing drowsiness​​.

Mechanism: Increases GABA and Promotes Relaxation

  • L-Theanine promotes relaxation by increasing levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that inhibits neuronal activity, thus reducing stress and promoting a state of calm. This process helps improve sleep quality by making it easier to fall asleep and reducing disturbances during the night​​.

Benefits in Improving Sleep Quality and Reducing Sleep Latency

  • Studies have demonstrated that L-Theanine improves sleep quality, particularly in populations with anxiety or ADHD. It reduces sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep) and minimizes nighttime awakenings, contributing to a more restful sleep without the sedative effects of traditional sleep aids.


Valerian Root

Background and Historical Use

  • Valerian root has been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy for insomnia and anxiety. It is known for its sedative properties and is often used in herbal medicine to promote relaxation and sleep.

How It Helps: Interaction with GABA Receptors

  • Valerian root works by enhancing the activity of GABA receptors in the brain, which helps to induce calmness and facilitate sleep. This interaction makes it an effective natural treatment for improving sleep quality and reducing the time needed to fall asleep​​.

Clinical Findings Supporting Its Use

  • Clinical studies have shown that valerian root can improve overall sleep quality, decrease the time it takes to fall asleep, and help maintain sleep throughout the night, making it a reliable natural option for those struggling with sleep disorders.



Importance for Overall Health and Muscle Relaxation

  • Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including muscle and nerve function, protein synthesis, and blood glucose control. It also plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy sleep patterns​​.

How It Helps: Supporting Deep, Restorative Sleep

  • Magnesium helps regulate neurotransmitters and hormones that are critical for sleep. It supports deep, restorative sleep by maintaining healthy levels of GABA, which promotes relaxation and can reduce symptoms of insomnia ​.

Evidence of Efficacy in Reducing Insomnia Symptoms

  • Supplementation with magnesium has been shown to improve sleep quality, especially in older adults. Studies have found that magnesium can increase sleep time, improve sleep efficiency, and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep​​.



Cultural Significance and Uses

  • Traditionally used as a herbal treatment for anxiety and insomnia, passionflower has a long history of use in various cultures for its calming effects and ability to promote sleep.

Sedative Effects and Influence on GABA Levels

  • Passionflower works by increasing levels of GABA in the brain, which helps reduce anxiety and improve the quality of sleep. Its sedative properties make it a valuable natural remedy for those suffering from insomnia and other sleep disorders​​.

Research Highlighting Its Benefits

  • Research indicates that passionflower can significantly improve sleep quality, reduce nighttime awakenings, and help manage sleep irregularities. It is particularly effective in improving subjective sleep quality in those with mild sleep disturbances​​.



Origin and Traditional Use

  • Ashwagandha, a cornerstone of Ayurvedic medicine, has been used for over 3,000 years to relieve stress, increase energy levels, and improve concentration. It is renowned for its adaptogenic properties, helping the body manage stress​​.

How It Works: Stress Reduction and Modulation of Sleep Hormones

  • As an adaptogen, Ashwagandha helps modulate the balance of neurotransmitters and stress hormones like cortisol. By reducing physiological stress responses, it indirectly supports better sleep quality and duration​​.

Benefits and Supporting Research

  • Clinical studies have shown that Ashwagandha significantly improves sleep quality and reduces symptoms of anxiety and stress, which are common barriers to restful sleep. Its calming effects on the nervous system facilitate the onset of sleep and enhance overall sleep duration​​.



Traditional Use in South Pacific Cultures

  • Kava, derived from the roots of the kava plant, has been traditionally consumed in the South Pacific for its relaxing and sedative effects. It is used to promote relaxation, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep​​.

How It Helps: Calming Effects and Anxiety Reduction

  • Kava contains kavalactones, which affect the brain and other parts of the central nervous system, promoting calmness and reducing anxiety without impacting REM sleep. This makes kava an effective natural remedy for improving sleep quality​​.

Clinical Findings Supporting Its Use

  • Clinical trials have demonstrated that kava can reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality, making it a promising alternative to pharmaceutical anxiolytics for individuals seeking natural sleep aids​​.



Role as a Precursor to Serotonin and Melatonin

  • Tryptophan is an essential amino acid found in various protein-based foods and supplements. It serves as a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that can be converted to melatonin, which is vital for regulating sleep.

How It Helps: Supporting the Natural Sleep Cycle

  • By boosting serotonin levels, tryptophan can help stabilize mood and promote the natural production of melatonin, thereby supporting a healthy sleep cycle and improving sleep quality ​.

Benefits and Supporting Research

  • Research has shown that tryptophan supplementation can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and improve overall sleep quality, particularly when taken in doses over 1 gram ​.



Historical Use and Common Preparations

  • Chamomile has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for various ailments, including sleep disorders. Commonly consumed as a tea, it is renowned for its mild sedative and relaxing properties​​.

How It Helps: Mild Sedative and Relaxation Effects

  • Chamomile contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to certain receptors in the brain that promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia. Its gentle sedative effects make it a popular choice for those seeking to improve sleep quality naturally​​.

Research Highlighting Its Sleep-Promoting Properties

  • Studies have shown that chamomile can improve overall sleep quality and is particularly effective in individuals with mild to moderate generalized anxiety disorder. Its calming effects help ease the transition to sleep and enhance sleep duration​​.


How to Incorporate Natural Nootropics into Your Routine

Tips for Selecting High-Quality Supplements

When selecting nootropic supplements, it is crucial to choose high-quality products to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Look for supplements that are third-party tested for purity and potency. Verify that the product is free from harmful additives and contaminants.

Opt for well-known brands with positive reviews and transparent ingredient sourcing.

Recommended Dosages and Timing for Optimal Sleep Benefits

  • Melatonin: 0.5 to 5 mg taken 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime is effective for most individuals. Start with a lower dose to assess tolerance and effectiveness.
  • L-Theanine: 100-200 mg taken 30-60 minutes before bedtime can promote relaxation and improve sleep quality.
  • Valerian Root: 300-600 mg of valerian extract, taken 30 minutes to two hours before bedtime, is commonly used to enhance sleep quality.
  • Magnesium: 200-400 mg, ideally taken in the evening, helps support deep, restorative sleep.
  • Passionflower: 400-500 mg of passionflower extract taken an hour before bedtime can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality.
  • Ashwagandha: 250-600 mg daily, preferably taken in the evening, aids in stress reduction and sleep improvement.
  • Kava: 70-250 mg of kavalactones taken in the evening can help alleviate anxiety and promote better sleep.
  • Tryptophan: 500-1000 mg taken 30 minutes before bedtime can support the natural sleep cycle by increasing melatonin production.
  • Chamomile: Consuming chamomile tea or 200-400 mg of chamomile extract 30 minutes before bed can help induce sleep.

Advising Consultation with a Healthcare Provider

Before starting any new supplement, it is essential to consult with a healthcare provider, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking other medications. A healthcare professional can provide personalized advice, ensure that the supplement is safe for your specific health needs, and help avoid potential interactions. 


A full moon in a starry night sky, representing the serene and natural aspects of sleep.



Incorporating natural nootropics into your routine can significantly enhance sleep quality and overall well-being.

These supplements offer a safer alternative to pharmaceutical sleep aids, supporting relaxation, reducing anxiety, and promoting restful sleep through natural mechanisms.

By selecting high-quality products, following recommended dosages, and consulting with healthcare providers, you can safely enjoy the benefits of these natural remedies.

Consider integrating these options as part of a holistic approach to achieving better sleep and improved health.


Learn more about the vitamins, minerals and natural nootropic plant extracts we use to give your brain a daily boost 

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