Naturally Therapeutics

The benefits of Valerian Root over Melatonin, a comparison

Finding a good night’s sleep is essential for our overall well-being. Without a proper night’s sleep, our physical and mental functioning becomes severely compromised, leading to a range of negative consequences on our health, cognition, and overall well-being.

Many individuals struggle with sleep and difficulty falling asleep. While melatonin has long been a popular choice for promoting sleep, some individuals, including myself, have experienced grogginess and drowsiness the next day. In my personal experience, I have found valerian root to be a superior alternative to melatonin, providing a refreshing sleep without the unwanted side effects. In this piece, we will explore why valerian root may be a better choice for improving sleep quality, based on my personal experience and additional science-based evidence.

  • Sleep Quality

Valerian root, derived from the Valeriana officinalis plant, has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for sleep disorders. It is known for its calming properties that promote relaxation and improved sleep quality. Unlike melatonin, which directly influences our sleep-wake cycle, valerian root works by increasing the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps calm brain activity, leading to a more restful sleep.

In a meta-analysis and review of over 370 articles, (including randomized control trials), it was found that the use of valerian was found to almost double the chance of sleeping better compared to placebo.


  • Herbal vs. Synthetic preparation

Melatonin is a synthetic hormone, which is made in a laboratory.  It is made to resemble a natural hormone present in our body.  Valerian root is derived from the Valeriana Officinalis plant, which is found in Europe and Asia, it is classified as an herb.  Valerian has had a long history of traditional use for various ailments including sleep disorders, anxiety and nervousness.

  • Gentle Awakening

One of the main advantages I have experienced with valerian root is the absence of morning grogginess. While melatonin often leaves individuals feeling drowsy and unfocused during the day, valerian root has a gentler awakening effect. This can be attributed to its unique mechanism of action, which allows for a smoother transition from sleep to wakefulness. Waking up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day is a significant benefit of valerian root over melatonin.

  • Reduced Dependency

Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body, and supplementation may interfere with the body’s natural production and regulation of melatonin levels. With long-term use, it is possible to develop a dependency on melatonin supplements, requiring higher and higher doses to achieve the same sleep benefits. Valerian root, on the other hand, does not disrupt the body’s natural melatonin production, making it a more sustainable option in the long run.

  • Relaxation Benefits

Beyond its sleep-promoting effects, valerian root offers additional benefits for overall relaxation and stress reduction. It has been traditionally used as a natural remedy for anxiety and nervousness, which often contribute to sleep disturbances. By calming the mind and promoting a sense of tranquility, valerian root addresses the underlying causes of sleep difficulties, ensuring a more holistic approach to sleep management.

  • Fewer Side Effects

While melatonin is generally considered safe, it can still cause side effects such as headaches, dizziness, and daytime sleepiness, as I have experienced. Valerian root, on the other hand, is known for its minimal side effects. While some individuals may experience mild stomach discomfort or vivid dreams, these occurrences are relatively rare and typically subside with continued use.

  • Low Clinical Contraindications*

Available animal and human pharmacodynamic studies does not verify interaction potential of valerian preparations.  This means,  interactions seems to be low and thereby without clinical relevance. There is no specific evidence questioning safety, which includes cancer patients.


*Even though valerian may have lower contraindications than most other sleep supplements, please check with your doctor.

  • Can help relieve symptoms for Post-Menopausal Women

In a study published in April, 2023, “Effect of fennel-valerian extract on hot flashes and sleep disorders in postmenopausal women: A randomized trial” the results where that women who took the fennel-valerian extract had significantly lower pittsburgh sleep quality index score than the control group, 2 months after intervention.  The study found that fennel-valerian was effective in relieving sleep disorders as well as decreasing severity and frequency of hot flashes compared to placebo.


Based on my personal experience and additional evidence, valerian root emerges as a superior alternative to melatonin for promoting restful sleep. Its ability to induce relaxation, improve sleep quality, and offer a gentle awakening sets it apart from melatonin. Furthermore, valerian root’s reduced dependency potential and additional relaxation benefits make it a more holistic choice for those seeking natural sleep aids. As with any supplement, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional before incorporating valerian root into your sleep routine, particularly if you have pre-existing health conditions or are taking other medications.