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Valerian Root for Sleep: Do Valerian Supplements Work?

Posted on December 04 2022


  • Valerian root is an herbal supplement used for centuries to help with sleep issues. It possesses calming and soothing properties, which can help relieve insomnia and anxiety.
  • Many studies have demonstrated the positive effect of valerian root extract on sleep quality, duration, and overall sleep satisfaction.
  • Although uncommon, side effects of valerian root include stomach upset, headache, and vivid dreams. If you are taking other medications, pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor before taking valerian root.
  • If you have doubts about using a supplement to help you get to sleep, we recommend trying a sleep app. Pzizz is a sleep app that uses research-backed techniques to create customized soundscapes that can help you fall asleep more quickly, without the need for medication or supplements.


Many people prefer to find a natural solution to their sleep problems. For some, the potential side effects associated with mainstream pills and tablets can be off-putting. Others worry about becoming reliant on medication. Then there are those who simply prefer to stick with natural remedies whenever possible. Whatever the reason, with so many traditional medicines and an abundance of advice online, it can be challenging to know where to start.

One of the most popular natural sleeping aids is valerian root extract. This is likely because it's been used for centuries to help with insomnia and other sleep disorders. Knowledge of valerian root and its properties go as far back as Ancient Greece and Rome and was even mentioned by Hippocrates!

In this article, we'll look at what valerian root is and what it's traditionally used for. Then, we'll explain how the root works and modern scientific research into its properties. Finally, we'll answer the pressing question, "does valerian root work?" and recommend our top ten over-the-counter supplements on the market. 

Plus, we will tell you all about Pzizz-a sleep app that uses scientifically proven methods to help you fall asleep. It provides customized soundscapes, which are combinations of music, sounds, and narration, that can assist you in falling asleep easily and naturally at the press of a button. You can download the app for free on the Apple App Store or Google Play and try it out. This is the perfect valerian alternative for people who want to fall asleep naturally without any supplements. 

Let's get started!

What Is Valerian Root?

Valerian root is, as the name suggests, the root of the valerian plant. This plant is a flowering perennial found in Europe and Asia. The plant has small white or pinkish flowers and can grow as large as five feet tall. Some call it "nature's Xanax" due to its sedative effects.

The root is harvested and then dried before being used for its medicinal properties. There are multiple species of valerian plant, but the most common one used for supplements is valeriana officinalis.

Historically, valerian root has been used for various ailments-ranging from indigestion to anxiety and, of course, sleep disorders. Valerian root is still commonly used as a natural remedy today. It's available in multiple forms, including capsules, powders, and tea. Valerian supplements are also popular among those struggling to get a good night's sleep.

What is Valerian Root Extract Used For?

As we mentioned, valerian root extract has been used for centuries to treat various ailments. These have included:

  • Insomnia: Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. It's a prevalent sleep disorder, with around 30% of adults experiencing it at some point.
  • Anxiety: Anxiety is a mental health disorder characterized by feelings of worry, stress, and unease. It can be highly debilitating and often harms everyday life.
  • Digestive issues: Digestive issues encompass various gastrointestinal problems, including stomach pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
  • Headaches: Headaches are a widespread condition that can range from mild to severe. They're often caused by muscle tension or dehydration.
  • Menstrual cramps: Menstrual cramps are pains in the lower abdomen during a woman's menstrual cycle. They're caused by muscle contractions in the uterus and can range from mild to severe.

How Does Valerian Root Work?

The active compounds in valerian root extract are understood to be valerenic acid and valerenol. These compounds work together to increase levels of γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate the nervous system.

Valerian root may also help reduce anxiety by working on the same GABA receptors in the brain. It's thought to increase serotonin levels in the brain. This feel-good neurotransmitter helps regulate mood and reduce feelings of stress.

However, valerian root is most commonly used as a natural sleep aid. This is because it's thought to help increase the amount of time you spend in deep sleep. Deep sleep is the most restorative and essential for good physical and mental health.

There's also some evidence to suggest that valerian root may help to ease menopause symptoms. This is because it's thought to possess phytoestrogen properties, meaning it can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body.

Valerian for Sleep: The Research

But does valerian root work for those suffering from poor sleep? The research says yes.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of the available research on using valerian for insomnia found that it may help to improve sleep quality. Six of the 16 studies covered by the review had data that allowed for quantitative analysis of sleep quality. This data showed valerian nearly doubled an individual's chance of sleeping better compared to a placebo. This is most likely due to its effect on GABA levels in the brain.

Here are just a few of the reviews and studies published in medical journals on the effects of valerian root on sleep:

  • Journal of Evidence-based Integrative Medicine:A review found that "valerian could be a safe and useful herb alone and also in combination in treating sleep problems, anxiety, and associated comorbidities." However, the review also found that valerian is likely more helpful in treating insomnia when it's associated with particular conditions such as anxiety, even though it can cause anxiety and confusion when used in high doses. Those involved suggested more research was needed into valerian root, how it works, and how best to maximize its effects.
  • Oman Medical Journal: A 2021 study "found that valerian use improves sleep quality, state anxiety, and depression symptoms significantly in [hemodialysis] patients." 
  • Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology: A Spanish study stated that valerian could encourage sleep. 
  • Phytomedicine: In Australia, a study found that using valerian speeds up falling asleep and improves sleep quality for children with mental disorders.

The available research suggests valerian root may effectively treat sleep disorders and anxiety. However, more research is needed to confirm these effects.

Does Taking Valerian for Insomnia Cause Side Effects?

Taking valerian for insomnia is generally considered safe in small to moderate doses. The most common side effect is mild gastrointestinal upset, such as cramping or bloating.

Some users have reported feeling more anxious or confused after taking valerian root extract. This side effect is likely due to the user taking too high a dosage. As valerian works by increasing GABA in the brain, taking too much can result in an imbalance of neurotransmitters.

Vivid dreams and headaches have also been reported when using valerian root for sleep. Additionally, taking valerian with alcohol or other CNS depressants can cause interactions leading to extreme drowsiness. Therefore, it is best to avoid taking valerian with these substances.

There is a risk of valerian root interacting with certain medications, including sedatives, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications. It’s also important to note that valerian root is not recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding. 

As a rule of thumb, It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before taking any supplement-especially if you're pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medication.

Top 10 Valerian Supplements

If you're interested in taking valerian for insomnia or anxiety, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, including valerian, for sleep.
  • Look for a supplement that contains only valerian root extract.
  • Be sure to choose a supplement that's been third-party tested for quality and purity.

To help you find a valerian root supplement that meets these criteria, we've compiled a list of our top 10 favorite valerian supplements.

1. NOW Supplements Valerian Root

NOW valerian supplements are a certified vegan dietary supplement derived from the valerian plant. The non-GMO, nut, and soy-free capsules provide 500 mg of pure valerian root per serving, making it a good choice for those looking for a natural way to relax. Additionally, this product is sugar-free, egg-free, dairy-free, corn-free, and low in sodium.

2. Nature's Way Valerian Root

Nature's Way Valerian Root is one of the most popular sleep-aid supplements on the market. It is made from premium, non-GMO valerian root extract verified by Non-GMO Project and Tru-ID for its purity and potency.

3. Valerian Root by Mary Ruth’s

Valerian Root by Mary Ruth’s is a USDA-certified organic supplement that provides multiple benefits. Its calming effect helps support the mind and nervous system, making it an excellent choice for promoting improved sleep quality and reduced stress levels. This supplement is free of fillers, additives, and preservatives, ensuring you get only the highest quality ingredients in each capsule.

4. Solaray Valerian Root Extract

Solaray Valerian Root delivers a potent amount of valerian root to promote relaxation and restful sleep. This trusted brand of valerian supplements offers a pure and simple formula with no fillers, preservatives, or additives. As with all Solaray products, valerian root is non-GMO and vegan. It has been lab-verified for purity, potency, and identity.

5. Herb Pharm Certified Organic Valerian Root Liquid Extract

This herbal extract is prepared from the fresh root of the valeriana officinalis plant, which is grown on the company's certified-organic farm in southern Oregon. This ensures maximum potency. By entering through the senses of taste and smell, this liquid form allows easy absorption to help your body recognize and use the herbs.

6. Life Extension Valerian Root Extract

The Global Healing Organic Valerian Root Extract is a liquid supplement which aims to help you drift into a peaceful sleep. It has a calming effect on the central nervous system that helps reduce occasional stress responses and eases tension. Global Healing's Valerian Root Extract is manufactured using cGMP-certified procedures in Phoenix, Arizona, and comes with a 30-day guarantee.

7. Nutrimoji Mouth Breather Sleep Aid

This sleep aid has been designed for women and aims to help create a calming and soothing effect. The product also helps balance hormones and reduce stress levels so users can enjoy a more restful sleep. With this aid, women can experience refreshed mornings and improved overall moods without worrying about the potential side effects of harsh chemicals.

8. Nature's Truth Valerian Root

These capsules are an excellent choice to help promote restful sleep. Each tablet contains the equivalent of 1,200 mg of valerian root and is also gluten-free and non-GMO. They recommend that adults take one quick-release capsule around 30 minutes before bedtime.

9. BlueBonnet Valerian Root Extract

BlueBonnet Valerian Root Extract capsules are formulated to help support restful sleep and relaxation. These capsules contain 250 mg of sustainably harvested valerian root extract, standardized to 0.8% (2 mg) of total valerenic acid. This supplement is free from dairy, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, and soybeans. It is also free of corn, yeast, gluten, barley, rice, sodium, and sugar. It is gluten-free and soy-free, kosher-certified, and non-GMO. Each bottle contains 60 vegetable capsules with 60 servings per bottle.

10. Earthborn Elements Valerian Root

Earthborn Elements Valerian Root is a 100-day supply of pure, undiluted valerian root extract. This natural remedy is sourced from Europe and Asia. It has been encapsulated in the USA to ensure it contains no additives or fillers. With this three month's worth of valerian root extract, users can experience peak health support and its many potential benefits.

If you're looking for a valerian root supplement that's high-quality and third-party tested for purity, any of the supplements on this list would be a good choice.

Alternatives to Valerian Root for Sleep

If you’re not sure valerian root is the best sleep aid for you, there are other options out there. For example:

  • Melatonin: Melatonin is a natural hormone that the body produces to regulate sleep. It's available in supplement form and can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
  • Chamomile: Chamomile is an herb with sedative properties. Taking chamomile tea before bed can help promote relaxation and improve sleep quality.

Lemon Balm: Lemon balm is another herb with sedative properties. Taking lemon balm tea before sleep has been said to aid in falling asleep and promote a restful night.

However, suppose you’re looking for a solution that avoids taking supplements altogether. In that case, you might want to try these: 

  • Sleep Apps: Sleep apps like Pzizz ofer an easy, natural, and reliable way to fall asleep quickly without taking any supplements or medications. Pzizz is a sleep app that uses proven techniques to help you fall asleep. It provides personalized audio tracks, including music, sounds, and narration, that can help you fall asleep easily and naturally with just the tap of a button. You can download the app for free on the Apple App Store or Google Play and try it out for yourself.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise can help improve sleep quality and reduce time in falling asleep.
  • Create a Routine: Creating an evening routine that helps you wind down can also improve your sleep. This could include reading or listening to soothing sounds, for example.

Finding what works best for you is essential for getting good quality sleep. Whether that's valerian for insomnia or something else entirely is up to you!

However, we have one final suggestion that you may not have considered...

Introducing Pzizz

Pzizz is a revolutionary sleep system app that combines music and voice to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. With our unique combination of soundscapes, music, and spoken word narratives, Pzizz can help promote relaxation and better sleep quality in no time. The app has been tested by countless celebrities who had nothing but praise to say about it. Try out our free trial for yourself today and start getting better sleep from the very first night! 


Valerian root extract is a popular herbal remedy often used for sleep. There's some evidence to suggest that it may be effective, but more research is needed. If you're interested in trying valerian for sleep, we recommend talking to your healthcare provider first to discuss whether it's right for you. 


Does valerian root work quickly?

The effects of valerian root can vary from person to person. Still, it takes about an hour to begin feeling the sedative effect and will reach peak effectiveness within two hours.

Can valerian root be taken in tea?

Yes, valerian root can be taken as a tea before you go to bed. To make a cup of valerian tea, steep one teaspoon of dried valerian root in hot water for 10-15 minutes. You can also add honey or other sweeteners to suit your taste.

Is valerian root safe for long-term use?

Valerian root is generally considered safe for long-term use when taken in moderate doses (no more than 500 mg per day). However, as with any supplement or medication, check with your doctor to understand all the potential risks and benefits of using valerian for sleep.

Does valerian root have any side effects?

In some individuals, valerian root can cause mild side effects such as headache, upset stomach, dizziness, or drowsiness. If you experience these symptoms after taking valerian root, it is best to stop using it and consult your doctor for further advice.

How long can I take Valerian root?

You should take valerian root for no longer than four weeks. After this period, it is best to take a break from taking it to assess its effectiveness and avoid the risk of developing tolerance or dependence on the supplement. If you plan on using it again after this break, speak with your doctor first.