One of the most popular herbal remedies for sleep issues is valerian root. This ingredient can be found in many supplements, or it can be taken by itself. Perhaps due to its efficacy, it has been nicknamed: “Nature’s Valium”. 

If you’re wondering how to use valerian root for sleep and if it is effective and safe to use, you’ve come to the right place. Many studies have weighed out the pros and cons of using valerian root. We’ll outline some of the benefits of adding this herb into your sleep routine. 

Valerian root and sleep

Valeriana officinalis is the scientific name of valerian root, and this herb can be found natively growing in Europe and Asia. However, you can also find valerian in parts of the United States as well as other countries. Flowers of this plant have been used for thousands of years in natural remedies and medicines. 

Although the flowers of valerian are delicate in scent, the root has a stronger odor. There are many compounds and oils that make up the root that create this smell. In fact, the pungent odor is the result of compounds that provide the sedative effects on the nervous system. 

There are many ways to take valerian root. It can be taken as an extract in teas, as a liquid, or in capsule form. You can choose whichever option fits the best with your lifestyle.  

How much valerian root should I take for sleep?

When choosing to take valerian root, you need to figure out the proper dose to improve your sleep. Even though there isn’t a set amount that you should take, there are guidelines that you can follow.  Many valerian capsules range from 250 to 1,000 mg. So, any doses between these amounts are considered to be safe. You should also take your valerian root supplement between 30 minutes and two hours before bed to be the most effective. 

If you’re making tea, you need to steep between two and three grams of dried valerian root in hot water. You should allow this mixture to sit for 10 minutes. Taking a tincture of valerian root can be quite potent, and you should never exceed the dosage recommended by the label. 

You can also use valerian root essential oil, but this is used for aromatherapy. You would add a few drops of the essential oil to an essential oil burner and put it in your bedroom. Essential oils should never be taken internally. Even if the essential oil says food-grade, you can’t take it alone orally. 

How much valerian root for sleep is healthy?

Natural sleep aids alone will likely not fix your sleeping problem. Your sleep hygiene and lifestyle are often the reason that you are suffering from poor sleep. 

So, although you can safely use valerian root to help improve your sleep, you should still be monitoring your sleep habits. Many struggling sleepers journal  or use sleep trackers like the Remrise sleep app to monitor changes in their sleep habits, so they can keep track of problems. Your sleep problem could be as simple as that cup of coffee you have late in the afternoon. 

Valerian root vs melatonin for sleep

Valerian root and melatonin are two of the most common sleep aids that you can use. However, there are key differences between the two: melatonin is a hormonal sleep aid, while valerian root is herbal. Melatonin is a bit more direct than valerian, so it can be more intense. Many struggling sleepers that take melatonin feel groggy the next day. 

If you take valerian root, you won’t have as much of a “sleep” hangover. We use valerian root in our products because it is milder. Melatonin is also overused as a sleep aid. Most people who have poor sleep quality, are referred to melatonin before anything else. Just because something is popular, doesn’t mean that it is the most effective. Valerian root also has fewer side effects than melatonin.

You cannot take both of these supplements at the same time. Since there can be adverse reactions with any sleep aids, you’re not supposed to take them together unless it’s a supplement with a combined formula. These supplements both count as sedatives, and you could end up taking too much and experiencing side effects. 

Does Valerian root work for sleep and anxiety?

Valerian root is the ideal solution for many that are struggling from sleep disorders and other mental health issues. For example, valerian has been shown to help reduce anxiety in those that take it in some studies. However, it will take many more studies before there is conclusive data in whether valerian root is really effective for anxiety disorders. 

Valerian root has isovaleric acid, antioxidants, and valerenic acid. These compounds target gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating your mood and promoting sleep. So, valerian’s compounds increase your body’s GABA, which can improve your sleep disturbances and lower your stress. 

How effective is valerian root for sleep?

Valerian root is not a drug. That means it has not been isolated into a single chemical compound. The valerian you take is a plant. Often herbal medicines are not researched in the same way a single chemical compound is researched. Perhaps as a result there is often a greater degree of variability in the findings of studies about plants.

Like most supplements derived from plants, researchers have found mixed results on the efficacy of valerian root for sleep. Some studies show that there is no significant improvement if valerian root is taken. However, there are other studies that do show that the patients in trials do have significant improvement when they used valerian root.

According to a 2015 meta-review of 16 studies totaling 1,093 patients, valerian root significantly improved measures of sleep compared to placebo in six of the studies. This review mentions the need for higher-quality studies to confirm valerian root extract’s benefit for the treatment of insomnia symptoms.

So, you will have to try it yourself to determine how effective it is. As always, you should consult a doctor if you are taking any other medication. You should also start with a smaller dose and then work up from there. Valerian is used in our products because we think it is one of the more effective sleep aids you can use. 

What are the benefits of taking valerian root for sleep?

When taking valerian root, some of the benefits include:

  • Falling asleep faster.
  • Improved quality of sleep.
  • Relief from symptoms of anxiety.
  • No next-day sleep aid “hangover” (as can be experienced with melatonin and OTC sleep aids like antihistamines).

These are only a few of the many reasons that people are adding valerian root into their lives. The studies are still fairly weak (by clinical standards) in showing proof of valerian’s effects on sleep and anxiety. However, the combined data of most studies do show an improvement in sleep. 

Valerian root side effects:

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), valerian root is recognized as being safe, but it does have some possible adverse effects. Some of these can include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Restlessness

You shouldn’t operate heavy machinery or drive while you are taking valerian root. Since this herbal remedy is used to help you fall asleep, it can make you drowsy. Remember to start with smaller doses if you are worried about negative effects. You can always increase the dosage that you take. 

Can everyone take valerian root?

Even though this supplement is considered safe, there are some people that should not take valerian root. 

  • Pregnant or nursing women: There haven’t been enough studied to determine if valerian root puts the baby at risk. So, it is better to be safe than sorry and not take valerian root while pregnant or breastfeeding. 
  • Children under three years of age: The effects of valerian root haven’t been tested in children under the age of three. 

Being an herbal supplement with bioactive compounds, valerian root carries potential drug interactions. You should never combine valerian root with OTC sleeping pills, alcohol, or antidepressants. If you’re taking any type of prescription pills, you should seek medical advice before you begin taking valerian root. 

How does valerian root work?

The compounds in valerian root that make you sleepy, also have fascinating effects on the body. Valerenic acid is responsible for inhibiting the brain’s breakdown of GABA. So, this helps calm your central nervous system and promotes sleepiness. 

Some of the antioxidants found in valerian root, including linarin and hesperidin, also have properties that help improve your sleep. There are many compounds in valerian root that affects the amygdala, which is the part of the brain that governs fear and the fight-or-flight response. Targeting this area of the brain relaxes you, so that you have a calmer mood and better quality sleep. 

Why should you choose valerian root?

Having a problem sleeping is frustrating. You need a healthy sleep schedule, so that your body can rest and rebuild. When you don’t get adequate sleep, all areas of your life can suffer. Choosing to use valerian root can help improve your sleep. 

Instead of taking an over-the-counter medication, you can choose a natural supplement. Relying on prescription pills is much more dangerous than choosing a natural supplement. You risk becoming addicted to prescription pills the longer that you take them. Valerian root is a natural solution that sleepers find effective.  

Why we use valerian root

Valerian root is central to the Remrise formulations because of its well established reputation as a reliable and natural sleep aid. The properties of valerian root have been identified as effective in the way they interact with GABA, a neurotransmitter that regulates neural communication in the brain. 

This action inhibits excitatory impulses that cause anxiety and restlessness, nudging the body to relax into a more restful sleep. As a botanical ingredient it’s another natural approach to get the most out of the sleep-inducing effects of GABA without the next-day sleeping pill hangover. 

It complements the other ingredients in the formulations, like magnesium and phosphatidylserine, to further relax muscles and prevent a surge of cortisol (a stress hormone) that can interrupt deep sleep in the middle of the night. 

Valerian root could give you better quality sleep.

So many supplements can improve your life, especially if you are having problems with your quality of sleep. Give it a try. There’s a reason that our products contain valerian root. A better night’s sleep can be just around the corner with the assistance of effective natural sleep aids.