Sleep gummies are edible sweets infused with clinically studied nutraceuticals shown to support improved sleep like CBD and melatonin.
At ZenBears, we infuse our naturally delicious gummies with broad spectrum CBD, a beneficial, non-intoxicating compound extracted from the cannabis plant which has been shown to support natural relaxation and improved sleep.
CBD Gummies for Sleep 😴
CBD is a chemical found in the hemp plant. It’s exploded in popularity over the last couple of years thanks to its many natural well-being benefits, one of which is sleep.
CBD works by acting on your endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex system within your body that helps to keep everything — including your natural sleep-wake cycle — in a state of balance.
The ECS is run by chemical messengers called endocannabinoids, or internally produced cannabinoids. CBD is also a cannabinoid, so when you consume it, CBD behaves in a very similar way to your own endocannabinoids.
Many people including 100's of our customers swear by CBD for boosting their sleep, but as it’s a relatively new field of study, scientific research is still underway to show exactly how it works. However, we do know it calms the nervous system, with one study showing that 66.7% of people noticed an improvement in their sleep after taking CBD.
Melatonin Gummies 💤
Melatonin and cortisol are the two main hormones that control your 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. They work in direct opposition to each other around the clock, with one rising as the other falls. When cortisol, AKA the “stress hormone”, rises throughout the day, you feel awake and alert. And when melatonin rises in the evening, you start to feel sleepy.
There are lots of aspects of our modern lifestyles that can throw this cycle out of balance. One example is chronic stress, which can keep cortisol levels high and prevent melatonin from rising in the evening. Another is the blue light emitted by devices like mobile phones, which simulates daylight and suppresses melatonin release.
Melatonin gummies can help to support this natural sleep-wake cycle, and they don’t have the harsh side effects or addictive properties of pharmaceutical sleeping pills. Unfortunately, melatonin is only available on prescription in the UK as such we do not manufacture or retail melatonin supplements.
What are sleep gummies made of?
Sleep gummies typically consist of one or more active ingredients, with CBD (cannabidiol) and melatonin being the most popular.
Below are a few more active ingredients commonly found in sleep gummies:
Magnesium is an essential mineral that’s involved in hundreds of processes in your body, including many that relate to sleep. Here are just a couple of examples of how magnesium can help you to get a great night’s sleep:
Magnesium regulates your body clock, which tells you when to sleep and when to wake up.
Magnesium is needed to make serotonin, and serotonin is needed to make melatonin.
Magnesium activates your parasympathetic nervous system, the calm and relaxed state you need to be in to fall asleep (and stay asleep).
Magnesium mimics the action of a neurotransmitter called GABA, calming the body and mind in preparation for sleep. (Lots of anxiety and sleep medications work in the same way.)
Magnesium glycinate is a combination of magnesium and an amino acid called glycine. On its own, glycine is also known for its calming, sleep-promoting effects. When combined with magnesium, it’s been shown to improve sleep onset and duration, making you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer.
5-hydroxytryptophan, or 5-HTP, is a natural by-product of an amino acid called L-tryptophan. To understand how it can help sleep, let’s circle back to melatonin.
As we mentioned above, you need serotonin to make the sleep hormone melatonin. Known as a “serotonin precursor”, 5-HTP is converted into serotonin in the brain. That means that by taking a 5-HTP supplement, you can boost serotonin levels and, in turn, support melatonin production.
Various studies found that 5-HTP helped people to fall asleep quicker and enjoy more deep, slow-wave sleep. There’s also evidence to suggest that it can reduce sleepwalking, sleep terrors and sleep arousal, or waking up at night.
L-theanine is an amino acid found in tea and certain foods like mushrooms. It’s known to increase a certain type of brain wave called alpha waves, which occur when you’re feeling relaxed or drowsy.
L-theanine also has a relaxing effect on your brain chemistry. It gently increases levels of serotonin and another neurotransmitter called GABA, both of which promote feelings of well-being. GABA is known as an inhibitor, which means that it calms activity in the brain cells. This is particularly important when your body and mind are preparing for sleep. In fact, lots of common sleep medications work by promoting or mimicking GABA’s calming effects.
In addition, L-theanine blocks the activity of another neurotransmitter called glutamate. Unlike GABA, glutamate is excitatory, which means it stimulates activity in the brain — not what you need when you’re trying to drift off!
There is lots of evidence to support L-theanine’s role as a safe, relaxing sleep aid and a promising natural alternative to drugs like sedatives. In one study, it was shown to slow down resting heart rate and greatly improve sleep in both humans and animals. Other studies have found it to boost sleep quality in people with certain disorders like ADHD and stress, promoting longer, more restful sleep.
There are some great herbal remedies for boosting sleep, too. One of them is ashwagandha, otherwise known as the “king of Ayurvedic medicine”. Widely celebrated in traditional Indian medicine for its ability to boost virility, today it’s best known as an adaptogen or a substance that helps you to withstand stress.
Ashwagandha lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and may even regulate your body’s stress pathways to moderate your stress response. Because cortisol inhibits melatonin release, it makes sense that this calming effect can help to promote better sleep. Like L-theanine and magnesium, ashwagandha is also believed to act on GABA receptors.
In one study, various sleep quality measurements were taken from two groups over 10 weeks, with one group taking ashwagandha and the other taking a placebo. The ashwagandha group experienced faster sleep onset, longer sleep time, and better sleep efficiency. They also experienced greater mental clarity on waking up the next day. In another study, participants fell asleep quicker, stayed asleep longer, and reported a 72% improvement in sleep quality after taking ashwagandha. In another review of various herbal remedies, ashwagandha was among the top three for promoting quality sleep.
Chamomile is a sweet, earthy herb from the Asteraceae plant family. It’s traditionally been brewed as a tea and is a popular bedtime drink thanks to its sleep-promoting qualities. Now, it’s also available in gummy form.
Chamomile has a mild tranquilising effect on the brain thanks to a flavonoid called apigenin. It binds to the same receptors in the brain as benzodiazepines, a type of drug commonly prescribed for anxiety and sleep problems.
Unlike many herbal preparations, there is quite a large base of evidence for chamomile’s sleep-boosting powers. In one study, ten cardiac patients were observed to fall into a deep, 90-minute sleep after taking chamomile extract. In another, women who had recently given birth drank chamomile tea for two weeks and reported better sleep quality and fewer mood disturbances than those who drank a placebo tea. Yet another study found that those taking chamomile extract fell asleep 15 minutes faster and woke up a third less often than those who took none.
Despite its citrusy name and taste, lemon balm (AKA Melissa officinalis) is actually a herb from the mint family. It’s been used for relaxation and sleep for at least 2000 years, with one famous 15th-century alchemist recommending that it be used for any and every health complaint relating to the nervous system.
Modern science seems to agree with this ancient wisdom, demonstrating that lemon balm does in fact have a positive, relaxing effect on the nervous system. In a 2004 study, researchers found that taking lemon balm eased feelings of stress and promoted a sense of calm and relaxation in participants. Later on, in 2010, researchers found that lemon balm supplements completely resolved sleep issues in 17 out of 20 patients (85%). And in 2014, it was shown that lemon balm extract added to food had a positive, calming effect on participants.
While lots of the sleep remedies on this list seem to work by promoting GABA activity, lemon balm appears to work slightly differently. Instead of acting on GABA receptors, it seems to act on the enzyme that breaks GABA down. In theory, that means that GABA will stay in the brain for longer, giving it more time to exert its calming, relaxing effects.
When it comes to herbal sleep remedies, lavender is perhaps the most widely known. Famous for its distinctively sweet, floral scent, lavender can be found in everything from bath soaks to body lotions to teas and, more recently, sleep gummies.
There are several ways lavender is thought to support good sleep. In addition to promoting slow alpha-wave brain activity and activating GABA receptors, it also decreases levels of acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter plays an important role in keeping you awake, so by gently lowering your levels, lavender can support sleep onset.
The scent of lavender also positively affects the amygdala, the area of your brain associated with emotion, and it helps to calm the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). SNS activation is associated with stress and controls your “fight-or-flight” response, so it’s easy to see how it’s not compatible with a good night’s rest. By calming the amygdala and the SNS, then, lavender can set the stage for a relaxing sleep.
The evidence for lavender as a sleep aid is very strong. Here are just a few of the many examples:
Study 1: After inhaling lavender before bedtime, women who had recently given birth fell asleep quicker and slept for longer.
Study 2: Out of various essential oils tested, lavender had the strongest and most consistent positive effects on sleep quality.
Study 3: 10 people suffering from sleep problems experienced a significant improvement after inhaling just a couple of drops of lavender oil before bed every night.
Study 4: This review looked at studies with healthy people and those suffering from health conditions, and noted that lavender improved sleep quality in all scenarios.
Study 5: Elderly people who were struggling to sleep after being taken off sleep medications were given lavender oil instead. After a short time, their symptoms eased and their sleep patterns were restored.
Study 6: When given a lavender skin patch, university students with poor sleep experienced much greater sleep improvements than those who were given a placebo. They also reported feeling much more refreshed the next day.
Study 7: People who inhaled lavender before bedtime for three nights experienced more deep, slow-wave sleep and slept for longer without waking in the night.
Used as a sleep aid since ancient Roman times, the herb valerian goes by the nickname “nature’s valium” thanks to its calming, relaxing properties. You might not be surprised by now to find that it acts on GABA receptors! It also destroys the enzyme responsible for breaking down GABA, ensuring this relaxing neurotransmitter sticks around for longer. In addition, it interacts with receptors for serotonin and another chemical called adenosine, both of which are important for sleep regulation.
In a review of herbal remedies, valerian was among the most effective for promoting healthy sleep. In a 2021 study, participants said they experienced better sleep quality after taking valerian before bedtime for a month. In this study and this 60-study review, researchers concluded that valerian helped people to fall asleep faster, sleep for longer, and enjoy a better quality of sleep. And in this study on post-menopausal women, 30% experienced better sleep after taking valerian, compared to only 4% in the group that took a placebo.
Last but not least on our list is passiflora, also known as passionflower. There are 500 types of passiflora, and many of them, like purple passionflower, are well-known for their relaxing, sleep-boosting properties. Again, this is primarily down to passiflora’s effect on GABA receptors and its ability to promote deep, slow-wave sleep.
Along with valerian and ashwagandha, passionflower was one of the top three supplements in a review comparing the effectiveness of herbal remedies for sleep. In a clinical trial where participants drank herbal tea containing purple passionflower every day, they reported much better sleep quality after just one week. In another study, purple passionflower had a notable calming effect on people who were scheduled for surgery.
What are the benefits of sleep gummies?
Lots of the sleep aids in this article are available in various other forms, like oils, tinctures, powders, body lotions, and capsules. So why take them as gummies? There are a few advantages, such as…
Convenience - When all you want is to fall into bed, you don’t want to be mixing up a drink or slathering yourself in creams and lotions! However, it only takes a second to pop a gummy into your mouth and start enjoying the benefits.
Controlled dosage - With oils, tinctures, and lotions, it’s very hard to measure your dosage accurately. Gummies are pre-measured, though, so you know exactly how much of your chosen sleep aid is in each sweet — without the hassle of measuring it yourself, like you would with a powder.
Taste - Some sleep aids, like CBD oil, have a very strong and distinctive taste that not everybody loves. Gummies, on the other hand, are available in a wide range of flavours that taste just like your favourite sweets
What are the risks of sleep gummies?
There are several risks associated with sleep gummies, including potential drug interactions, side effects, and overdose. These gummies may contain melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, and other ingredients such as herbal supplements, which can cause allergic reactions or other adverse effects. Additionally, taking sleep gummies regularly can lead to dependence, and abruptly stopping use can result in withdrawal symptoms. It is important to speak with a healthcare professional before using sleep gummies, especially if you are taking other medications or have a pre-existing health condition.
How to choose the right sleep gummy for you?
With all of these sleep gummies to choose from, how do you pick the best one for you? Well, you don’t have to pick just one, and research actually suggests you shouldn’t! For example, various studies show that valerian and lemon balm is more effective at improving sleep when taken together. That’s because some combinations have a synergistic effect, where the ingredients work together to enhance each other and provide greater benefits than they would on their own.
ZenBears is harnessing this synergistic effect with custom gummy “stacks”. These are tailored blends of different ingredients like the ones above, all together in a single gummy. You get to try out different formulations to see what works best for you. That’s especially important with a problem like sleep, as the cause of your restless nights might be very different than mine, and your unique biochemistry might respond to the same ingredients in a different way than mine does.
We’re getting ready to launch our custom gummy stacks ASAP so don’t worry – your sleepless nights could be a thing of the past very soon! If you want to be the first to know when they’re ready to go, leave your name and email address below and we’ll be in touch!