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3 Signs Your Sleep Supplement Isn't Working & What To Do

Emma Loewe
May 23, 2023
Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director
By Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director
Emma Loewe is the Senior Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us."
Image by Lumina / Stocksy
May 23, 2023

Whether you're going through a stressful period at work and need help turning your mind off or you're adjusting to a new bedtime in a foreign time zone, many people try a sleep supplement at one point or another. And with an increasing number of options on the market, some are bound to work better than others.

If you're having any of the following pain points with yours, it could be time to try a new option or take a different approach to your sleep issues:.

Signs your sleep supplement isn't working like it's supposed to:


You wake up groggy.

Waking up with a foggy mind and lethargic body is an all too common experience with some sleep aids, particularly hormonal options like melatonin. "'Grogginess' is sometimes reported after melatonin use, along with headache, dizziness, upset stomach, and even mood alterations such as temporarily feeling down or feeling more anxious," Ellen Wermter, FNP-BC, a family nurse practitioner, previously told mindbodygreen.

This can happen if there is so much melatonin in your supplement that the hormone is still lingering in your system when you wake up. The melatonin is sending the signal that it's nighttime as you're going about your morning routine, which can lead to that dazed and confused feeling. Supplements with abnormally high levels of melatonin are not uncommon, as recent testing has shown.

Your sleep supplement should help you fall asleep and wake up feeling good, so if you're having this issue, consider it a red flag.


You don't fall asleep any faster.

This one's obvious, but if you don't find it any easier to fall asleep when you take a sleep aid, something's amiss. It could be that your sleep environment or sleep routine is off (more on that later) or you have an underlying sleep disorder like insomnia, which you'll need to consult your doctor about. It could be a sign that the supplement doesn't have efficacious ingredients—or doesn't have them at the correct dose. This can happen with herbal sleep aids like valerian, which don't have a ton of solid science behind them. While a supplement shouldn't hit you over the head with a wave of exhaustion, it should have a noticeable effect!


You're still tired during the day.

Finally, just because a supplement helps you fall asleep faster, it doesn't mean it helps you stay asleep through the night (this is a common experience with melatonin). The sleep stages that happen later in the night, like deep sleep and REM sleep, are the most important for daytime functioning and overall recovery. If you're tossing and turning all night, you won't reap the benefits of these all-important stages—and you'll definitely feel it the next day.

A good sleep supplement will help you fall asleep faster, sleep through the night, and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go.

What to do

So, what can you do if your sleep aid isn't working as you want it to? First of all, remember what it's designed for. Supplements assist our body's natural processes—they don't undo unhealthy habits. If you're using your computer until the wee hours, drinking alcohol and eating super close to bedtime, or stressing until your head hits the pillow, even the best sleep supplement in the world won't help you. Get your sleep hygiene routine in good shape first before trying any kind of supplement. (Here are some tips to get you started, and you can read about how health professionals wind down for bed here.)

If your sleep routine is solid and it's the product that's not doing its job, may we suggest trying sleep support+ instead? mindbodygreen's bestselling sleep supplement is a nonhormonal (read: no groggy mornings) blend of science-backed ingredients that have been shown to help the body and mind relax. The combination of magnesium bisglycinate, PharmaGABA®, and jujube is designed to enhance natural sleep quality and promote a steady state of relaxation through the entire night.*

It's a difference that you can feel. "I've taken many sleep supplements but this one does help keep me asleep through the night," writes sleep support+ customer Jennifer D. "I've been waking up less and feel as if the sleep I'm getting is more restorative."*

"Before sleep support +, I would wake up multiple times through the night and never feel quite rested when I would get up for the day. I'm finally starting to fall asleep faster, not waking up, and when I get up for the morning, I feel very rested. I am in love with this product and give it my highest recommendation," says customer Mallory O. "Not only do I sleep much better, but my good sleep makes for a better day."*

The takeaway

If your sleep supplement doesn't help you fall asleep faster, makes you feel groggy in the morning, or leaves you tired during the day, it's time to look into alternatives. Address your sleep routine, talk with your doctor to rule out underlying issues, and look into well-reviewed alternatives like sleep support+.

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.
Emma Loewe author page.
Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director

Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.

Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.