Melatonin Vs Valerian Root Which One Is Better for Sleep

Valerian Root or Melatonin – Which is better for Sleep?

Melatonin Vs Valerian Root Which One Is Better for Sleep
Valerian Root Vs Melatonin – Which one is better for sleep?


Delving into the realm of sleep aids, the quest for a restful night’s sleep is a common struggle.  Insomnia and disrupted sleep patterns plague many individuals, leading to a search for effective and safe solutions. While estimates may vary, it is commonly suggested that around one in three people in the UK may experience symptoms of insomnia at some point in their lives.  Two natural contenders in this arena are valerian root and melatonin. Valerian root, a herb hailed for its soothing properties, and melatonin, a hormone regulating the sleep-wake cycle, offer promises of improved sleep quality. In a bid to unravel the mystery of choosing the ideal sleep aid, scrutiny of valerian root versus melatonin becomes imperative. 

Valerian Root: Nature’s Sedative

Valerian root is an herbal supplement that has been traditionally used to promote relaxation and improve sleep. While the exact mechanisms of how valerian root works are not fully understood, several key points suggest its potential benefits for sleep:

  1. GABAergic Activity: Valerian root is believed to interact with the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter system. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps calm the nervous system, promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety, which can contribute to better sleep.
  2. Alleviation of Anxiety and Stress: Valerian root has anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) properties, which may help individuals who experience anxiety or stress-related sleep disturbances. By reducing overall anxiety levels, valerian root may facilitate the onset of sleep.
  3. Modulation of Sleep-Wake Cycle: Valerian root may influence the sleep-wake cycle by interacting with receptors and neurotransmitters involved in regulating circadian rhythms. This can contribute to a more regular and restful sleep pattern.
  4. Mild Sedative Effects: Valerian root contains compounds that have mild sedative effects, which can help induce a sense of calmness and drowsiness. This sedative action may contribute to falling asleep more easily.
  5. Improved Sleep Quality: Some studies suggest that valerian root may enhance sleep quality by increasing the amount of time spent in deep or slow-wave sleep. This is the stage of sleep associated with physical restoration and rejuvenation.
  6. Reduction in Sleep Latency: Sleep latency refers to the time it takes to fall asleep. Valerian root has been reported to reduce sleep latency, allowing individuals to transition from wakefulness to sleep more quickly.
  7. Non-Habit Forming: Unlike some pharmaceutical sleep aids, valerian root is generally considered non-habit forming. This makes it a potentially safer option for long-term use, as users are less likely to develop a dependency on the herb.
  8. Fewer Side Effects: Valerian root is associated with fewer side effects compared to some prescription sleep medications. While individual responses can vary, many people tolerate valerian well without experiencing the grogginess often associated with certain sleep drugs.

Valerian Root Dosage and Safety

The recommended dosages have varied, ranging from 225–1,215 milligrams (mg) per day as per the 2006 review. This study conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of valerian as a treatment for insomnia. It analysed data from 16 eligible studies involving a total of 1093 patients. Hence the best-recommended dosage remains unclear, calling for further research.

Valerian root is generally considered safe, and most people tolerate it well. However, like any supplement, it’s crucial to be aware of potential interactions with other medications and supplements. It’s important to consult a healthcare provider to ensure safe usage, especially for individuals taking other medications or supplements.

Melatonin: The Sleep Hormone

Melatonin plays a crucial role in regulating sleep-wake cycles and maintaining overall health.  Here are some of Melatonin’s key points: 

  1. Role in Sleep-Wake Regulation: Melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone produced in response to darkness, plays a crucial role in synchronising the body’s internal clock and promoting the onset of a good night’s sleep. By regulating circadian rhythms, it ensures that essential bodily functions align with the day-night cycle, contributing to overall well-being.
  2. Importance for Quality Sleep: Emphasising the significance of melatonin in promoting quality sleep, it aids in both the initiation and maintenance of better sleep. This contributes to individuals feeling refreshed and energised upon waking.
  3. Pineal Gland’s Involvement: The pineal gland, located in the brain, is highlighted as a central player in melatonin production. It responds to reduced light levels, especially in the absence of light, by increasing melatonin secretion. This hormonal signal serves as a cue for the body to transition into the resting phase, facilitating the onset of restful sleep.
  4. Environmental Factors: The impact of environmental factors on melatonin production is acknowledged. Exposure to light, particularly blue light emitted by electronic devices, is identified as a factor that can suppress melatonin production. The mention of increased screen time and exposure to artificial light during the evening in the modern era underlines the potential disruption of the natural circadian rhythm and poor sleep. 
  5. Shift Work Influence: The disruption caused by night shift work on the natural light-dark cycle is mentioned. Irregular working hours can affect the typical rise and fall of melatonin associated with the circadian rhythm.
  6. Insights into Environmental and Lifestyle Factors: Understanding the natural mechanisms of melatonin production provides insights into how environmental and lifestyle factors can impact overall melatonin levels. This recognition underscores the importance of considering these factors for maintaining a healthy sleep-wake cycle.

Insight into Supplemental Melatonin

Ongoing research is exploring the impact of melatonin supplements on specific health conditions such as COVID-19, cancer symptoms, and chronic insomnia. This supplementary melatonin aims to regulate disrupted sleep-wake cycles, making it particularly valuable for individuals struggling with jet lag due to air travel across multiple time zones.

Clinical trials on melatonin supplementation are essential in understanding its potential side effects and long-term impacts. Responsible utilisation of melatonin supplements entails a thoughtful approach that takes into account the available information and expert guidance. Empowering individuals to make informed choices regarding melatonin supplementation is paramount in maximising its potential benefits while minimising possible risks.

Melatonin Dosages and Considerations

It’s important to note that melatonin is available in different doses, and the source of melatonin should be trusted. This ensures the effectiveness and safety of the supplement.

When considering melatonin, it’s crucial to be aware of its mild side effects and its potential interactions with other medications. It’s generally well-tolerated, but users should be mindful of possible adverse effects, especially when combined with other substances.

Comparing Valerian Root and Melatonin

Valerian Root vs. Melatonin: To answer which one is the better option.  It’s important to understand their mechanisms of action. Valerian root is an herb known for its sedative properties, while melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and the body’s circadian rhythm.  Both are natural sleep aids, with Valerian root potentially improving sleep quality and melatonin helping with insomnia symptoms.

When it comes to dosages, Valerian root’s recommended dosage is unclear, with prior research indicating a range from 225-1,215 milligrams per day, while melatonin doses vary based on individual needs. Safety-wise, both are generally considered safe, but they can have mild side effects and interact with other medications.

However, melatonin supplements are not readily available over-the-counter in the United Kingdom. Unlike some other countries, the UK classifies melatonin as a prescription-only medicine. This means that you need a prescription from a healthcare professional to obtain melatonin supplements legally.

Safety Considerations for Sleep Aids

It’s crucial to prioritise safety, particularly for certain populations.

Consulting a Healthcare Provider: Before starting any sleep aid regimen, consulting a healthcare provider is essential. This is especially true for individuals with existing medical conditions, those taking other medications, pregnant or nursing individuals, and children under three years old. Their unique health circumstances demand professional guidance to ensure the safe use of sleep aids.

Populations to Avoid: Children under three years old should avoid valerian root and melatonin due to potential risks and lack of sufficient research on their effects in this age group. Similarly, pregnant or nursing individuals should exercise caution and seek medical advice before using these sleep aids to safeguard their well-being and that of their baby.

Interactions with Medications: It’s essential to be aware of potential interactions with other medications or supplements. Individuals taking medications for other health conditions should discuss the use of valerian root or melatonin with a healthcare provider to prevent adverse interactions.

General Safety Precautions: While valerian root and melatonin are generally considered safe for most people, it’s important to start with lower doses and monitor for any adverse effects. Additionally, individuals with a history of allergies or sensitivities should be cautious when using these supplements and seek guidance if needed.

Children and Sleep Aids

It is important to note that these natural sleep aids are not recommended for children under three years old. The developing systems of young children require specialised care, and introducing sleep aids without medical guidance can pose potential risks.

For parents considering sleep solutions for their young children, consulting a paediatrician is essential. A healthcare provider can offer tailored recommendations based on the child’s specific needs and health considerations. Paediatricians can assess the potential risks and benefits of using sleep aids in children, ensuring that any interventions are safe and appropriate for their age and developmental stage.

Pregnancy and Sleep Aids

As a pregnant individual, you should be cautious about using any form of sleep aid without consulting a healthcare provider. The effects of valerian root and melatonin on pregnancy are not yet fully understood, and there may be potential risks involved.

Consulting a medical professional is crucial before incorporating any sleep aid into your routine, especially during pregnancy. The hormonal and physiological changes that occur during pregnancy can make the impact of these natural sleep aids unpredictable.

Given the limited research available on the effects of valerian root and melatonin on pregnancy, it’s best to approach the use of these supplements with caution. The advice of a healthcare provider can provide personalised guidance based on your specific health conditions and the stage of your pregnancy.

For pregnant individuals seeking solutions for sleep issues, it’s vital to explore alternative methods for improving sleep quality that are safe and appropriate during pregnancy. This may include non-pharmacological approaches such as relaxation techniques, adjusting sleep environments, and establishing healthy sleep habits.

Avoiding Interactions with Medications

Mixing these sleep aids with other drugs can lead to unwanted effects and potential health risks.  Medical advice is essential to understand the potential interactions and risks associated with combining valerian root or melatonin with other medications or supplements. Consulting a healthcare provider can provide personalised guidance and ensure the safe use of sleep aids in conjunction with other treatments.

Effects on Sleep Quality

When it comes to valerian root, it has been attributed to potential improvements in sleep quality, often noted in older reviews where researchers found that valerian helped enhance the quality of sleep without having negative effects in most individuals. 

However, further in-depth research is necessary to investigate the optimal dosages, effectiveness, and possible side effects of valerian root in more detail. On the other hand, melatonin, as a natural sleep aid, holds promise in helping regulate the sleep-wake cycle and may assist in addressing insomnia symptoms, thus contributing to enhanced sleep quality. Nevertheless, there remains a crucial need for additional research to delve into the precise impact of melatonin on overall sleep quality and to ascertain its potential benefits and limitations. The need for further research in this area is evident to truly understand the optimal use of both valerian root and melatonin for achieving improved sleep quality.

Side Effects of Natural Sleep Aids

It’s essential to be aware of these potential effects and monitor their occurrence.

Valerian root may lead to side effects such as dizziness, headaches, stomach discomfort, and daytime drowsiness. Similarly, melatonin can cause mild effects, including headaches, dizziness, nausea, and drowsiness.  Monitoring for these side effects is crucial to ensure that any undesirable symptoms are promptly addressed. While most individuals tolerate these natural sleep aids well, it’s important to remain vigilant and consult a healthcare provider if any concerns arise.

Can Both be Taken Together?

Mixing these two natural sleep aids can lead to potential interactions and unwanted effects.

Both valerian root and melatonin can interact with drugs and other supplements, and using them together may cause unwanted effects. For instance, valerian root may interact with certain medications such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines, leading to increased drowsiness and sedation. On the other hand, melatonin can interact with blood thinners, immunosuppressants, and diabetes medications, potentially affecting their efficacy.

It’s essential to avoid combining valerian root and melatonin without consulting a healthcare provider. Their simultaneous use can lead to unpredictable outcomes and may not be suitable for everyone, especially those taking other supplements or medications.

Conclusion: Finding the Right Fit

In conclusion, both valerian root and melatonin have shown promise in improving sleep, but their effectiveness can vary. Individual preferences, health considerations, and the specific sleep issues at hand should guide the choice of supplementation. Consulting with a healthcare professional is advisable to ensure safe and effective use, and to address any potential interactions or contraindications.

When seeking a sleep aid, consult a healthcare provider to determine which option is best suited for your specific requirements. Making informed decisions about sleep health is crucial. Take the time to understand the effects and potential risks associated with each supplement to ensure a good night’s sleep.


  • Espie CA, Kyle SD, Hames P, Cyhlarova E, Benzeval M. The daytime impact of DSM-5 insomnia disorder: comparative analysis of insomnia subtypes from the Great British Sleep Survey. J Clin
  • Bent S, Padula A, Moore D, Patterson M, Mehling W. “Valerian for sleep: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Am J Med. 2006;119(12):1005-12. DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2006.02.026.
  • Fernández-San-Martín MI, Masa-Font R, Palacios-Soler L, Sancho-Gómez P, Calbó-Caldentey C, Flores-Mateo G. “Effectiveness of Valerian on insomnia: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials.” Sleep Medicine. 2010;11(6):505-511. DOI: 10.1016/j.sleep.2009.12.009.
  • Pandi-Perumal SR, Trakht I, Srinivasan V, et al. “Physiological effects of melatonin: role of melatonin receptors and signal transduction pathways.” Prog Neurobiol. 2008;85(3):335-353. PubMed
  • Cajochen C, Krauchi K, Wirz-Justice A. “Role of melatonin in the regulation of human circadian rhythms and sleep.” J Neuroendocrinol. 2003;15(4):432-437. PubMed
  • Zisapel N. “New perspectives on the role of melatonin in human sleep, circadian rhythms and their regulation.” Br J Pharmacol. 2018;175(16):3190-3199. PubMed
  • Ferracioli-Oda E, Qawasmi A, Bloch MH. “Meta-analysis: melatonin for the treatment of primary sleep disorders.” PLoS One. 2013;8(5):e63773. PubMed
  • Claustrat B, Brun J, Chazot G. “The basic physiology and pathophysiology of melatonin.” Sleep Med Rev. 2005;9(1):11-24. PubMed
  • Gooley JJ, Chamberlain K, Smith KA, et al. “Exposure to room light before bedtime suppresses melatonin onset and shortens melatonin duration in humans.” J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011;96(3):E463-E472. PubMed
  • Cajochen C, Münch M, Kobialka S, et al. “High sensitivity of human melatonin, alertness, thermoregulation, and heart rate to short wavelength light.” J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005;90(3):1311-1316. PubMed
  • Rajaratnam SMW, Arendt J. “Health in a 24-h society.” Lancet. 2001;358(9286):999-1005. PubMed
  • Härmä M. “Individual differences in tolerance to shift work—a review.” Ergonomics. 1993;36(1-3):101-109. PubMed
  • Reiter RJ, Abreu-Gonzalez P, Marik PE, et al. “Melatonin therapy for COVID-19: A mechanistic review.” Life Sci. 2020; 250: 117583. PubMed
  • Lissoni P, Rovelli F, Malugani F, et al. “Anti-angiogenic activity of melatonin in advanced cancer patients.” Neuroendocrinol Lett. 2001;22(1):45-47. PubMed
  • Buscemi N, Vandermeer B, Hooton N, et al. “Efficacy and safety of exogenous melatonin for secondary sleep disorders and sleep disorders accompanying sleep restriction: meta-analysis.” BMJ. 2006;332(7538):385-393. PubMed
  • Herxheimer A, Petrie KJ. “Melatonin for the prevention and treatment of jet lag.” Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;(2):CD001520. PubMed
  • Lerner AB, Case JD, Takahashi Y, et al. “Isolation of melatonin, the pineal gland factor that lightens melanocytes.” J Am Chem Soc. 1958;80(10):2587. PubMed
  • Ferracioli-Oda E, Qawasmi A, Bloch MH. “Meta-analysis: melatonin for the treatment of primary sleep disorders.” PLoS One. 2013;8(5):e63773. PubMed
  • Beebe DW. A brief primer on sleep for pediatric and child clinical neuropsychologists. Child Neuropsychol. 2012;18(4):313-38. doi: 10.1080/09297049.2011.602014. Epub 2011 Sep 28. PMID: 21954988; PMCID: PMC3427766.
  • Mindell JA, Jacobson BJ. Sleep disturbances during pregnancy. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2000 Nov-Dec;29(6):590-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.2000.tb02072.x. PMID: 11110329.
  • Abourashed EA, El-Alfy AT, Khan IA, Walker L. “Chemical constituents of valeriana.” Adv Phytomedicine. 2003;2:67-89. PubMed
  • Morin CM, Koetter U, Bastien C, et al. “Valerian-hops combination and diphenhydramine for treating insomnia: a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial.” Sleep. 2005;28(11):1465-1471. PubMed