When most people think about sleep aids, they envision that “knocked-out” feeling. And while it may come with some groggy side effects, most just chock it up as par for the course. If you want to really sleep well, that’s just what you have to deal with...right?

We’re here to tell you, unequivocally, that that’s NOT the case. There’s no such thing as a “quick fix” when it comes to sustainable, long-term sleep health—just like there isn’t a quick fix for something like weight loss. The problem is that we’ve become so conditioned to expect fast results that, when something doesn’t work right away, we think...oh well, I guess it’s just not going to work for me at all.

Behind the science

Many ingredients in natural, non-habit-forming, non-antihistamine supplements have been studied—and proven as effective—only after longer periods of time.

  • Sensoril® Ashwaganda (helps with stress + anxiety): studied for 60 days (1)
  • Valerian (helps calm the mind + body to promote restful sleep): studied for 28 days (2-3)
  • L-theanine (helps with stress): studied for 28 days (4)
  • Cognigrape™ (supports brain health + cognitive performance): studied for 12 weeks (5)

This means that benefits actually build up over time, and if you’re only taking a supplement for one to two nights, you’re not reaping its maximum benefits.

Everyone’s biochemistry is different

Just because these ingredients have been studied for 28+ days doesn’t mean it’ll necessarily take that long. Results will vary based on your unique biochemistry and metabolism. Could you begin feeling effects the first night or within several days? Absolutely. But for maximum benefits, natural sleep supplements cannot be thought of as a one-off sleeping pill to take in “emergency” situations. Instead, they need to be thought of as a “sleep vitamin” that you include in your ongoing wellness routine—alongside things like your daily multivitamin or omega-3 supplement.

How you should expect to feel when taking a natural sleep supplement

In addition to shifting the way we think about how long supplements take to work, we need to shift our thinking on how you’re supposed to feel when taking them. While traditional sleep aids may leave you feeling “knocked out,” drugged, or groggy, that won’t be the case with sleep supplements. Also, you will likely awake to normal noises, which is a good thing! No one wants to sleep through something like a fire alarm or a child crying in the room next door. But when you wake up, you’ll be able to fall back asleep without hours of tossing and turning. THAT’s the key difference here.

So if you do wake up to something like this, that’s not a sign that the supplement isn’t working...the opposite, actually. It’s working exactly how it should be by helping you get a good, natural night of refreshing, high-quality sleep.

Supplements alone can only do so much

If you’ve been taking sleep supplements on a routine (i.e. daily) basis for a few weeks and are still not experiencing a difference in the quality and quantity of your sleep, coaching may help fill the gap. Because remember, supplements aren’t a “magic pill”—in fact, they’re only half the solution. While they may help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up feeling refreshed and restored, they can only do so much if your behaviors around sleep are “off,” whether it’s due to exercise patterns, light exposure, stress management, dietary factors, clock watching...you name it. That’s where a coach comes in.

S/he can help you develop tools to manage the effects of a racing mind, or address how things like your environment, circadian type, or sleep pressure may be impacting your ability to sleep well, night after night. In short, incorporating behavioral change is the best way to maximize the impact of your supplements and more meaningfully improve your long-term sleep health.

READ MORE: 4 Ways A Sleep Coach Can Help You