A healthy sleep is one with adequate duration, good quality, proper timing, regularity, and the absence of disturbances or disorders.1 However, nearly everyone experiences occasional sleeplessness for various reasons. Sleeplessness presents in multiple forms, including difficulty falling asleep, disrupted sleep, and early awakenings. It can contribute to daytime fatigue, irritability, and difficulties with attention and memory. Emotional well-being can also be affected, leading to feelings of depression or anxiety. These sleep-related issues can impact daily activities, increasing the risk of accidents. Moreover, persistent worry about sleep further compounds the challenges of achieving restful nights.2
✓ Stress and disrupted circadian rhythms may affect melatonin production and the balance between excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters, leading to occasional sleeplessness.
✓ Plant-derived ingredients such as passionflower, jujube, California poppy, lavender, and kava have been used to address sleep concerns, with scientific studies supporting their efficacy in promoting relaxation and restful sleep.
✓ Melatonin supplementation, backed by systematic reviews of clinical trials, has been shown to support a healthy circadian rhythm and relieve occasional sleeplessness.
California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) extract12-14
- Contains alkaloids such as N-methyllaurotetanine (NMT), protopine, and allocryptopine.
- Modulates GABA system via affinity to GABAA receptors in the brain tissue, producing soothing and calming properties.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) oil15,16
- Contains linalyl acetate, linalool, geranyl acetate, and β-caryophyllene.
- Exerts nerve-calming effects via modulating N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor and modulates serotonin reuptake by binding the serotonin transporter.
Kava (Piper methysticum) extract17-19
- Contains kavalactones such as kavain, methysticin, and yangonin.
- Enhances ligand binding to GABAA receptors, reduces excitatory neurotransmitter release via the blockade of calcium ion channels, and reduces neuronal reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine.
Many human randomized clinical studies have supported the use of plant ingredients to promote relaxation or sleep.
- Participants receiving passionflower extract prior to medical procedures found it helpful in occasional nervousness relief compared with a placebo.20
- In a 10-week study, a specific lavender flower oil (80 mg) was shown to significantly provide calming effects, help with occasional restlessness, and support restful sleep compared with a placebo.21
- Kava extract has been shown in several studies ranging from 1 to 24 weeks to promote a restful state and support occasional sleeplessness and sleep when quality compared with a placebo.22
Several systematic reviews have summarized evidence from multiple randomized clinical trials that investigated the effects of melatonin. These reviews have found that melatonin supplementation supports a healthy circadian rhythm and a good night’s rest, and may relieve occasional sleeplessness.23-25 Further analyses also found that melatonin at 3 mg is sufficient to provide the beneficial effects.23
Sleep is a basic human need and is vital for our overall well-being. It is crucial for proper brain function, brain waste clearance, metabolism, appetite regulation, immune responses, physical functioning, and development.26 Hence the phrase: sleep is good medicine. Lifestyle practices, better sleep hygiene, and plant-based ingredients are helpful tools to support a healthy circadian rhythm and promote restful sleep during periods of occasional sleeplessness.