Have trouble falling and staying asleep? Suffer from insomnia or another sleep disorder? No one enjoys lying awake at night trying, to no avail, to drift into sleep. While over-the-counter sleep medications or prescription drugs might be tempting to combat a sleepless night, they don’t always work and can put you at risk for several negative side effects, such as cognitive impairment. These can be especially dangerous for youth. Instead, look to all-natural herbal solutions, such as valerian root, for sleep disorder and insomnia treatment.
Valerian is an herb that has yellowish-brown roots, dark green leaves, and white and pink flowers. The root of this plant has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. Primarily, valerian is known for it’s sedative qualities, which can help to increase sleepiness, as well as to decrease nervousness and restlessness. In many European countries, valerian root extract is a commonly used, approved over-the-counter medicine for the treatment of insomnia, anxiety, and disturbed sleep.
Valerian has a variety of active compounds that give it these sedative qualities. These include valerenic acid, amino acids, and more. Although the mechanism is not entirely known, researchers do know that valerian root extracts increase the activity of GABA, one of the body’s main neurotransmitters that reduces excitability of the nervous system. By doing so, valerian has a calming effect in the body.
Studies have found significant improvements in sleep quality, the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, and the depth of sleep in studies using valerian root.[3,4] One review found that valerian may decrease the time it takes to fall asleep by 14 to 17 minutes. Another study found that 530 mg daily of valerian root significantly improved insomnia symptoms in postmenopausal women aged 50 to 60 years old.
Valerian root can mimic the effects of some anti-anxiety and sleep medications, but it is without side effects and is considered very safe. One of the main advantages of valerian is that it does not produce a “hangover” effect, meaning that no side effects are felt upon waking. It is also useful for the treatment of anxiety, depression, and restlessness, as well.
Valerian alone may produce substantial benefits and can help you to fall asleep and stay asleep, but many studies show that using valerian in combination with other sedative herbs is extremely effective. Try valerian with hops extract (Humulus lupulus), which has been shown to increase time spent sleeping as well as time spent in deeper sleep. Lemon balm and valerian is another effective combination, which can be used in children to help reduce restlessness and promote healthy sleep.
Valerian can be purchased as a dietary supplement. The recommended dose ranges from 30 to 600 mg daily about 30 minutes to two hours before bedtime. You might also try valerian root tea, which can be found in natural groceries. Drink a cup of tea before bed to promote sleep.
Visit Natural Health Advisory Institute for more tips on how to relieve insomnia and get a better night’s rest.
 Valerian for sleep: a systematic review and meta-analysis
 Psychophytomedicine: an overview of clinical efficacy and phytopharmacology for treatment of depression, anxiety and insomnia
 Effectiveness of Valerian on insomnia: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials
 Valeriana wallichii root extract improves sleep quality and modulates brain monoamine level in rats
 Effect of valerian on sleep quality in postmenopausal women: a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial
 Sleep disorders: a single dose administration of valerian/hops fluid extract (dormeasan) is found to be effective in improving sleep
 A combination of valerian and lemon balm is effective in the treatment of restlessness and dyssomnia in children
Chelsea Clark is a writer with a passion for science, human biology, and natural health. She holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology with an emphasis in neuroscience from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. Her research on the relationship between chronic headache pain and daily stress levels has been presented at various regional, national, and international conferences. Chelsea’s interest in natural health has been fueled by her own personal experience with chronic medical issues. Her many profound experiences with natural health practitioners and remedies have motivated Chelsea to contribute to the world of natural health as a researcher and writer for Natural Health Advisory Institute.
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