Having trouble sleeping? Before you reach for an over-the-counter sleeping pill, a natural remedy could give you respite without the unwanted side effects.
In the world of natural sleep aids, there are two key players: valerian root and melatonin. Valerian root has been used as a sleep aid since ancient Greek and Roman times, and is even dubbed “nature’s Valium” for its anti-anxiety benefits. Meanwhile, melatonin remains the most popular way to fight jet lag and promote a healthy sleep routine.
Both can help you get better sleep, but which one is right for you? Read on to find out the difference between valerian root and melatonin and how you can use natural methods to get the rest you need.
What is Valerian Root?
Valerian, or Valeriana officinalis, is a plant native to Asia and Europe where it has been used medicinally for centuries. Now, it grows in other parts of the world, including the United States and Canada.
While the valerian plant has beautiful delicate flowers, the root is where its medicinal power lies. Valerian root is a popular natural remedy used to encourage sleep, ease stress and anxiety, and calm nervous tension.
The Benefits of Valerian Root
1) Improves sleep.
Valerian root has a positive effect on almost all aspects of sleep; research shows that taking valerian can help you fall asleep faster, sleep longer and soundly, and enjoy better overall sleep quality. It has been proven safe and effective for many different groups who struggle with sleep disturbances, including those with cancer, postmenopausal women, and postoperative patients.
Valerian root also poses fewer risks and side effects than sleeping pills – it’s non-habit forming and doesn’t cause the same morning drowsiness and brain fog that many medications do.
2) Calms anxiety.
While researchers are still learning how and why valerian works, we do know that it increases the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. Valerenic acid and valerenol (compounds specific to the valerian plant) have been shown to modulate the GABA receptors, allowing for more circulating GABA in the central nervous system. These compounds also inhibit an enzyme that destroys GABA.
How does increasing GABA help with anxiety? GABA is a chemical that helps us feel calm and at ease. Increasing the amount of GABA in the brain helps to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and tension. Common anxiety drugs work by increasing GABA as well, which is why valerian root is often considered “nature’s Valium.”
3) Improves mood and well-being.
Valerian root has been shown to increase levels of serotonin, one of our “feel-good” hormones. Serotonin also plays an important role in our sleep-wake cycles. Boosting serotonin levels with valerian root can help reduce feelings of depression and improve our overall mood. Not to mention the mood boost you get from a good night’s sleep!
4) Supports women’s health.
A lesser-known benefit of valerian is its ability to support women’s health. Studies show that valerian can reduce hot flashes in perimenopausal women, as well as ease PMS, painful menstruation, and mood swings.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that your brain produces to manage your sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm. It is released in response to darkness in your environment and sends the message to your brain and body that it’s time to settle down for sleep. Melatonin supplements are synthetic versions of the hormone that are taken to help promote a regular sleep schedule.
Beyond helping you fall asleep, researchers have found that melatonin is an essential hormone for many of our body processes.
The Benefits of Melatonin
1) Decreases jet lag.
Traveling across multiple time zones can disrupt your body clock. Melatonin has been shown to be effective in reducing jet lag and recalibrating your circadian rhythm to your local area. It may also help fight daytime sleepiness and nighttime restlessness.
2) May reduce symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Some studies show that SAD could be linked to changes in our circadian rhythm during the winter months. Since melatonin helps regulate the circadian rhythm, researchers believe it may also help reduce symptoms of seasonal depression.
Which is Better – Valerian Root or Melatonin?
Valerian root and melatonin both have promising health benefits and can help you get the sleep you need. But they’re not interchangeable.
Taking a melatonin supplement can help reset your circadian rhythm if you fall out of balance. It’s best to take over a short period of time to overcome issues like jet lag, changing work shifts, or seasonal changes in daylight. It does not address underlying causes of insomnia in most cases.
On the other hand, valerian root helps you improve your sleep quality by relaxing your nervous system. It works by addressing the root causes of poor sleep – stress, anxiety, and restlessness.
In addition to getting deeper, more restorative sleep, studies show that valerian root will also help you manage daily stress better and feel more relaxed. Valerian root could be particularly helpful for women with menopausal or menstrual symptoms that disrupt their sleep and quality of life.
2 Steps to Improve Your Sleep Naturally
If you’re tired of tossing and turning, it’s time to get the rest you deserve. Following these two steps will put you on track to a healthier sleep cycle so you can feel good day and night.
1) Take a quality natural sleep supplement daily.
As you can see, valerian root is a top choice for those looking to improve their sleep quality and feel more at ease. But finding a valerian root supplement that works isn’t always as easy at it sounds. That’s why we recommend using Aceva’s Relax & Calm.
Relax & Calm is a 2-in-1 formula that can be used to reduce stress and overwhelm during the day, and promote peaceful sleep at night. It is 100% hormone-free, works faster than conventional sleep aids or anxiety medications, and has no negative side effects.
Relax & Calm gets its power from valerian root, along with three other natural stress and sleep aids:
- Passion Flower
Like valerian root, passion flower is known for its ability to promote rest and relaxation. It contains high amounts of GABA, which naturally calm the mind and relax the body.
Hops may be famous for giving craft beer its unique flavor, but this herb also has medicinal benefits. Hops is a natural sedative that eases stress and can encourage quality sleep and relaxation.
L-theanine is an amino acid that is found in green tea. Studies show that it supports mental relaxation, lowers blood pressure, and enhances focus and learning ability.
Overall, taking Relax & Calm can help you have calmer, more productive days and restorative, restful nights.
2) See your AlignLife chiropractor.
Rest is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. But if getting those 8 hours of quality sleep per night feels impossible, your AlignLife chiropractor can help you get to the root of the problem.
Is pain nagging you in the middle of the night? Are anxious thoughts keeping you awake? Are your pillows sabotaging your sleep? Once we have a clear idea of why you’re struggling to sleep, we can start a wellness plan that gets you back into a normal sleep schedule as soon as possible.
Schedule a visit with your local AlignLife Chiropractor today!