Valerian Root for Sleep Improvement


| 3/12/2015 9:51:00 AM


Tags: valerian root, herbal remedies, Chelsea Clark, Washington,

Valerian Root for Sleep Improvement 

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.[1] These can be especially dangerous for youth. Instead, look to all-natural herbal solutions, such as valerian root, for sleep disorder and insomnia treatment.

What Is Valerian Root?

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.[2]

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.[2]

Does Valerian Improve Sleep Quality?

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.[1] Another study found that 530 mg daily of valerian root significantly improved insomnia symptoms in postmenopausal women aged 50 to 60 years old.[5]

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.[1] It is also useful for the treatment of anxiety, depression, and restlessness, as well.[2]




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