Are You Sleep Deprived?

From time to time, most of us experience poor sleep or trouble falling asleep. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 35% of Americans are not getting the recommended 7 hours of sleep each night. There are so many contributing factors that can cause poor sleep. Whatever your cause of lack of sleep may be, there could be a natural, affordable, sleep aid that could help you get the rest your mind and body need to repair itself.

What is Valerian Root?

Valerian root is a herb which can be found commonly in most parts of the world. Way back in the 1800s, Valerian Root was used before barbiturates as a pharmaceutical. Valerian Root still to this day has natural sedative properties and is one of the most commonly used herb in the world (1-3).

How does Valerian Root Work?

The active ingredients ingredients in valerian are unknown today, but many studies have found that taking valerian can reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep (by 14-17 minutes to be exact) and improve sleep quality (4-10). Most studies found taking a dose of 400-900 mg valerian extract up to 2 hours before bedtime is optimal (11-15).

Potential Interactions

When valerian is combined with alcohol could cause and additive sedative effect (16-17). Valerian should not be combined with St. John’s Wort. It’s recommended to check with a pharmacist or health care professional before combining prescription drugs and valerian. Valerian can sometimes cause a stomachache and headache in some people. Also, don’t let your cat get into your stash of valerian root because valerian has an opposite effect on cats than it does on humans. Valerian is like top notch cat nip! Your cat will be cray-cray for awhile as you’re trying to catch some zzz’s; not a good combo. Also, it’s not recommended to combine melatonin with valerian because the effects can be too strong.


Where to Find Valerian

Valerian can be easily found as an over the counter dietary supplement at pharmacies and chain dietary supplement stores. Valerian can be used as an essential oil and is commonly used in natural lotions and soaps as a calming aid. Valerian can also be found in herbal teas in combination with chamomile. It’s delicious! A perfect hot beverage before bedtime!

My Experience with Valerian

I usually take 2 capsules of Valerian an hour before bedtime. I personally feel Valerian gets me in the mindset to go to sleep and in a way “turns off” other distractions (like anxiousness and the urge to binge watch Netflix). I have never experienced a groggy or foggy feeling the next morning after taking Valerian the night before. I found that melatonin causes me to feel groggy and foggy the next morning; so I tend to avoid taking melatonin. I’ve heard of Valerian taking a few weeks before it starts to work – I did not experience that, thankfully! I also enjoy drinking a hot cup of SleepyTime Tea manufactured by Celestial Seasonings instead of taking Valerian in capsule form.

 

References:

  1. Gutierrez S, Ang-Lee MK, Walker DJ, Zacny JP. Assessing subjective and psychomotor effects of the herbal medication valerian in healthy volunteers. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 2004;78:57-64. View abstract.
  2. Zaffani, S., Cuzzolin, L., and Benoni, G. Herbal products: behaviors and beliefs among Italian women. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf 2006;15(5):354-359.
  3. Bliwise, D. L. and Ansari, F. P. Insomnia associated with valerian and melatonin usage in the 2002 National Health Interview Survey. Sleep 7-1-2007;30(7):881-884. View abstract.
  4. Leathwood PD, Chauffard F, Heck E, Munoz-Box R. Aqueous extract of valerian root (Valeriana officinalis L.) improves sleep quality in man. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 1982;17:65-71.
  5. Donath F, Quispe S, Diefenbach K, et al. Critical evaluation of the effect of valerian extract on sleep structure and sleep quality. Pharmacopsychiatry 2000;33:47-53.
  6. Leathwood PD, Chauffard F. Aqueous extract of valerian reduces latency to fall asleep in man. Planta Med 1985;2:144-8.
  7. Oxman AD, Flottorp S, Håvelsrud K, et al. A televised, web-based randomised trial of an herbal remedy (valerian) for insomnia. PLoS One 2007 Oct 17;2:e1040.
  8. Vorbach EU, Darmstadt R, Gortelmeyer, Frankfurt, Bruning J. Therapie von Insomnien. Psychopharmakotherapie 1996;3:109-115.
  9. Balderer G, Borbély AA. Effect of valerian on human sleep. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 1985;87:406-9.
  10. Kamm-Kohl AV, Jansen W, Brickman P. Modern Baldriantherapie gegen nervöse Störungen im Senium. Die Medizinische Welt 1984;35:1450-1454.
  11. Leathwood PD, Chauffard F, Heck E, Munoz-Box R. Aqueous extract of valerian root (Valeriana officinalis L.) improves sleep quality in man. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 1982;17:65-71.
  12. Donath F, Quispe S, Diefenbach K, et al. Critical evaluation of the effect of valerian extract on sleep structure and sleep quality. Pharmacopsychiatry 2000;33:47-53.
  13. Bent S, Patterson M, Garvin D. Valerian for sleep: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Alternative Therapies 2001;7:S4.
  14. Leathwood PD, Chauffard F. Aqueous extract of valerian reduces latency to fall asleep in man. Planta Med 1985;2:144-8.
  15. Bent S, Padula A, Moore D, et al. Valerian for sleep: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med 2006;119:1005-12.
  16. Hadley S, Petry JJ. Valerian. Am Fam Physician 2003;67:1755-8.
  17. Chen D, Klesmer J, Giovanniello A, et al. Mental status changes in an alcohol abuser taking valerian and gingko biloba. Am J Addict. 2002 Winter;11:75-7.
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