Natural Supplements And Vitamins That Support Children's Sleep
  /   Dr. John Snow

Natural Supplements And Vitamins That Support Children's Sleep

Kids need consistent sleep and lots of it. But, for some children, hitting those essential hours of sleep feels like a distant dream. Not getting enough sleep can impact the physical, mental, emotional, and cognitive well-being of kids. 

There are plenty of tactics parents can employ to start improving their children’s sleep. An essential part of getting a good night’s sleep is nutrition. As more parents look for drug-free alternatives to promote sleep, many consider natural supplements and vitamins for kids' sleep.  

Let’s explore the natural ways you can support your child’s sleep and how different types of natural vitamins and supplements promote a peaceful night’s rest.

Natural Supplements That Support Children's Sleep

If your child is having difficulty falling or staying asleep, it's natural to search for effective solutions. Addressing sleep challenges in children often involves a comprehensive strategy. Establishing a soothing bedtime routine is crucial, but equally important are aspects like nutrition and diet, which can significantly impact the quality of their sleep.

There are several supplements known to help with calm and relaxation, and we’re going to delve deeper into each one so you have all the information you need to make an informed decision for your family. 


Magnesium: Promoting Relaxation and Calmness

Magnesium for kids plays an essential role in relaxation and promoting calmness. It’s important for a healthy heartbeat and promoting calmness in the body while also helping muscles to relax. 

The mineral also helps to regulate nerve and muscle functions as well as stress hormone levels. That means that low magnesium levels may leave children feeling more restless, especially when trying to get to sleep. Some sleep experts believe magnesium deficiencies may impact sleep quality.

Some good sources of magnesium-rich foods include:

  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, cashews, and chia seeds) 
  • Legumes (black beans and edamame) 
  • Whole grains (quinoa) 
  • Avocado 

Vitamins D and B: Supporting Sleep Health

Vitamin D helps the body to naturally produce the sleep hormone melatonin. Melatonin is crucial for signaling the body and mind that it’s time for bed. In the evening, melatonin levels increase and help you feel calmer, promoting sleep. 

Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of sleep disorders and is thought to be associated with sleep problems and shorter sleep duration. 

B vitamins, like vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, may also play a role in sleep regulation. Vitamin B12 is another essential vitamin for melatonin production, helping to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. 

You can find B vitamins in several foods: 

  • Leafy greens (especially spinach and collards) 
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Nuts

The main foods that contain vitamin D are fatty fish, eggs, and fish oils. Unsurprisingly, kids don’t eat a ton of these foods, so a lot of companies add vitamin D to foods like plant milk, cereal, and yogurt. 

Many people, not just kids, but those on vegetarian and vegan diets or who don’t get outside in the sunshine often, are at risk of vitamin D deficiency. This is especially true in autumn and winter when the days are shorter. 

Calcium: Regulating Sleep-Wake Cycles

Calcium isn’t just for strong teeth and bones; it also plays a central role in sleep. The mineral helps the brain to use an amino acid called tryptophan to produce melatonin, making it essential for a healthy sleep-wake cycle. 

Helping your child to get enough calcium promotes natural melatonin production, helping with relaxation and aiding sleep. Some studies suggest that lower calcium levels may disrupt the sleep-wake cycle, increasing sleep disturbances. 

Keep in mind that magnesium is essential for the body to utilize calcium effectively, so it's important to ensure you're getting both these nutrients to fully benefit from their potential to enhance sleep quality.

Some great sources of calcium include: 

  • Leafy green veg 
  • Tofu 
  • Oranges 
  • Sesame seeds
  • Almonds 
  • Fortified foods 

L-theanine: Calming Effects to Improve Sleep

L-theanine is an amino acid that’s mainly found in green and black tea leaves and some mushrooms. It’s also available in tablet form. L-theanine is said to ease anxiety and stress and help reduce symptoms of insomnia. 

One of the reasons that L-theanine is thought to be effective for improving sleep is that it potentially influences several neurotransmitters related to sleep and relaxation in the brain. L-theanine may have an anti-anxiety effect, helping to reduce stress and promote calm, which is especially important before bed. 

Studies into the benefits of L-theanine use dosage ranges from 50mg-400mg, depending on age. As with any supplement, you should always consult your child’s healthcare provider before making any changes. 

GABA: Enhancing Sleep Quality

GABA stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid. It’s a neurotransmitter in the brain that has a calming effect by reducing activity in brain cells, making you feel more relaxed.

Potential sleep benefits of GABA include: 

  • It may make it easier to fall asleep 
  • Reduce the time it takes to get to sleep 
  • Decrease anxiety and stress 

GABA is available as a supplement, and you can find it naturally in foods like: 

  • Tomatoes 
  • Soybeans 
  • Fermented foods
  • White tea 

Chamomile: Nature's Soothing Herb

Many people turn to a warm cup of chamomile tea before bed or in moments of relaxation. The herb is widely recognized as a sleep-inducer. It’s thought that chamomile may increase certain neurotransmitters, positively affecting anxiety and mood. 

Chamomile tea is a popular way to consume the herb, but you can also get tinctures and apply it topically. You can sweeten chamomile tea for children using honey or lemon juice. 

In general, chamomile is considered safe for children. But as always, it’s crucial to follow your doctor’s advice, especially if they have any other conditions or are currently taking any medication. Experts suggest that children under five should not have more than half a cup of chamomile tea per day.

Valerian Root: Herbal Remedy for Restful Sleep

Valerian root is a traditional herb used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. It’s believed to offer many potential benefits, including helping to treat insomnia and anxiety. 

The herb contains an active compound, which has a sedative (drowsy) effect. It’s thought that the compound acts on neurotransmitters to help calm and slow down the brain. 

It’s important to follow dosage guidelines to avoid overuse, as it could be harmful or increase sleepiness in large amounts. Children under three should not take valerian as the possible risks to children in this age bracket are not documented enough. Valerian may also interact with certain medications, including benzodiazepines and barbiturates. 

Signs of a Vitamin Deficiency Affecting Children’s Sleep 

There are a few nutritional deficiencies that can impact sleep: 

  • Vitamin D
  • B vitamins 
  • Calcium 
  • Magnesium 

Signs of a vitamin deficiency can include: 

  • Fatigue 
  • Weakness
  • Appetite changes 
  • Hair loss
  • Bone pain or achiness 
  • Lack of energy 

Depending on the exact nutrient deficiency, there may be other symptoms present, too. It’s essential to include a variety of foods in your child’s diet to ensure adequate levels of specific vitamins necessary for sleep. 

While a food-first approach is always recommended for getting essential nutrients for your child, many parents include a natural supplement in their daily routine. A balanced diet sets a strong foundation for a healthy body and mind and, alongside a supplement, can ensure you cover all your child’s nutritional needs. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing Supplements

When considering natural supplements and vitamins that support children’s sleep, the first step is to speak with your pediatrician. It’s important to think about the individual needs of your child. Do they have any allergies? Are they on any medication currently? These are all crucial questions to ask. 

The age of the child is a big factor when using sleep-boosting supplements. Look for products designed for the specific age bracket your child is in. Some supplements are aimed at toddlers, starting at two years old, while others could start at four. 

Whether it’s gummies, drops, or tinctures, natural supplements for kids' sleep come in different forms. When you’re evaluating the exact product to choose, think about the following:

  • Third-party quality certifications - this means that the product is tested by another company. So, the third party will test a supplement and evaluate its quality. 
  • Ingredients - look for ingredients in kids’ multivitamins that don’t include fillers, artificial colors and flavors, preservatives, food dyes, or junk. Ingredients should be high-quality. 
  • Dosage - consider natural supplements designed for children and infants so that the dosage and ingredients are formulated for kids. 
  • Reputable brands - buy from well-known brands with strict manufacturing standards, third-party testing, and high-quality ingredients. 
  • Sugar - be careful of sugar-packed supplements for kids; look for ones without added sugar. 
  • Nutrition needs - the age of your child will influence their nutrient needs, which is something to consider. 

Potential Risks and Precautions

Remember that supplements can have side effects and interactions, particularly in more sensitive children. Consult with your healthcare provider and stay informed about the potential risks and precautions.

Taking large amounts of vitamins or exceeding the recommended intake could result in headaches, diarrhea, or nausea. Dietary supplements may interact with medication your child is on, which can lead to unwanted side effects. If your child has a sensitivity or allergy, supplements containing that ingredient could cause a reaction in some individuals. 

Holistic Approach to Children's Sleep  

Each child is unique, with individual needs, and this is true for siblings within the same family who may exhibit completely different temperaments. A universal solution for achieving ideal sleep doesn't exist. However, by integrating natural supplements and healthy sleep habits, you can tailor your approach to your child's specific requirements for better sleep.

Natural supplements don’t replace good eating habits, a consistent bedtime routine, or daily exercise. When it comes to getting key nutrients, a balanced diet and an overall healthy lifestyle is always the first step in supporting children’s sleep. Natural supplements sit alongside healthy sleep habits to complement them and supercharge all the good things you’re already doing. As always, open communication with your child’s healthcare provider is vital when considering changes to their diet or routine. 


Childhood sleep: physical, cognitive, and behavioral consequences and implications | Springer Nature

The Role of Magnesium in Sleep Health: a Systematic Review of Available Literature | Biological Trace Element Research

Vitamin D deficiency promoting non-24 h sleep–wake disorder: a case report | Frontiers

P.8.b.002 The effect of dietary intake of vitamin B6 on sleep quality and insomnia | European Neuropsychopharmacology

Sleep Quality Is Associated with Vitamin B12 Status in Female Arab Students | NIH

Lower Serum Calcium Levels Associated with Disrupted Sleep and Rest–Activity Rhythm in Shift Workers | Nutrients

Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial | Nutrients

German chamomile | Mount Sinai

Valerian | NIH