Herbal supplements

From Polyphasic Sleep Wiki

World wide use of herbal medicine and supplements is increasing, offering some health improvements including sleep disorders remedy. This may include SOI (sleep onset insomnia) and WASO reduction, relaxation and reduction of nightmares, deeper sleep and higher sleep quality in general. This page reviews existing literature on herbal stimulants or supplements effects on sleep.

Sleep disturbance and WASO reduction

WASO most commonly occur primarily during polyphasic adaptation, which lasts around 4-8 weeks, so it's a normal experience and doesn't require treatment or any other means of reduction. However, for people with chronic WASO-insomia, they can take place even after polyphasic adaptation, or even outside of polyphasic sleep. As the studies show, they might have a possibility of sleep disturbance reduction by these supplements:

  • Passiflora incarnata tea[1] (tested with PSG, diary, placebo control group). Includes relaxing properties.
  • L-theanine, which occurs naturally in green tea leaves (Camellia sinensis), has shown to increase SWS (reverse effects of caffeine) in rats.[2] Importantly, a study[3] has shown that L-theanine does not promote daytime drowsiness, which is a desirable characteristic of sleep products.

Sleep onset insomnia

During polyphasic sleep adaptation, sleep onset is common for daytime naps/cores, and one shouldn't take action to reduce it artificially. After adaptation, sleep onset usually is <5 minutes for naps and <15 minutes for cores. However, for people with chronic sleep onset insomnia this might not be the case. This is especially noticeable with high total sleep time schedules, like extended Biphasic ones, non-reducing polyphasic schedules or BiphasicX. If you still have difficulties falling asleep after 8+ weeks on a schedule, these supplements might be helpful:

  • Ayurvedic supplement[4] (statistically significant decrease in reported sleep latency of 16.72 min as compared to placebo)
  • Valerian[5]

Anxiolysis and relaxing properties

Eliminating anxiety and relaxing is an important goal of improving sleep quality for some. A number of supplements has shown to be a sleep and anxiety aid:

  • Lavender oil[6] (can be inhaled[7], applied topically[8], or ingested[9] to promote relaxation and sleep)
  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)[10]
  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)[11]
  • dōTERRA Serenity™ Restful Complex Softgels[12]


  1. Ngan A, Conduit R (2011). "A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Investigation of the Effects of Passiflora incarnata (Passionflower) Herbal Tea on Subjective Sleep Quality". Phytotherapy Research. 25 (8). doi:10.1002/ptr.3400.
  2. Jang H, Jung J, Jang I, Jang K, Kim S, Ha J, Lee M (2012). "L-theanine partially counteracts caffeine-induced sleep disturbances in rats". Pharmocology, biochemistry, and behavior. 101 (2). doi:10.1016/j.pbb.2012.01.011.
  3. Ozeki M, Juneja LR, Shirakawa S (2008). "A study of L-theanine and daytime drowsiness". Japanese Journal of Physiological Anthropology. 13: 9–15.
  4. Farag N, Mills P (2003). "A randomized-controlled trial of the effects of a traditional herbal supplement on sleep onset insomnia". Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 11 (4). doi:10.1016/S0965-2299(03)00108-0.
  5. Simin MS, Neda BS, Kashaniyan MD, Haghani H (2011). "Effect of valerian on sleep quality in postmenopausal women". Menopause. 18 (9). doi:10.1097/gme.0b013e31820e9acf.
  6. Kasper S, Gastpar M, Müller W, Volz H, Möller H, Schläfke S, Dienel A (2014). "Lavender oil preparation Silexan is effective in generalized anxiety disorder--a randomized, double-blind comparison to placebo and paroxetine". The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. 17 (6). doi:10.1017/S1461145714000017.
  7. Lillehei A, Halcón L, Savik K, Reis R (2015). "Effect of Inhaled Lavender and Sleep Hygiene on Self-Reported Sleep Issues: A Randomized Controlled Trial". Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 21 (7). doi:10.1089/acm.2014.0327.
  8. Hongratanaworakit T (2011). "Aroma-therapeutic effects of massage blended essential oils on humans". Natural Product Communications. 6 (8).
  9. Dimpfel W, Pischel I, Lehnfeld R (2004). "Effects of lozenge containing lavender oil, extracts from hops, lemon balm and oat on electrical brain activity of volunteers". European Journal of Medical Research. 9 (9).
  10. Taavoni S, Nazem EN, Haghani H (2013). "The effect of lemon balm on sleep disorder in menopausal women 50-60 years old". Complementary Medicine Journal of Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery. 2 (4).
  11. Zick SM, Wright BD, Sen A, Arnedt JT (2011). "Preliminary examination of the efficacy and safety of a standardized chamomile extract for chronic primary insomnia: a randomized placebo-controlled pilot study". BMC complementary and alternative medicine. 11 (1). doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-78.
  12. Dorsett J, DaBell A, Eggett DL, Han X, Parker TL (2017). "Subjective assessment of the effects of an herbal supplement containing lavender essential oil on sleep quality: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study". ORCID Icon. doi:10.1080/2331205X.2017.1380871.