About one-third of the adult population experiences insomnia. Increasing in frequency within the sleep conversation are natural sleep remedies versus over-the-counter drugs, nightcaps, or the assistance of technology to get people snoozing.
Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis), a flowering plant native to Europe and Asia, is one natural option that alleviates insomnia and anxiety by increasing the brain’s supply of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical compound that slows down your brain signals so you can relax. It’s known as an inhibitory neurotransmitter because it regulates nerve impulses, and essentially sedates your brain and nervous system so you can calm down and, appropriately, wind down.
Although there’s limited scientific research to fully support its efficacy, studies have reported that valerian reduces the amount of time it takes to fall asleep by roughly 15-20 minutes along with heightening overall sleep quality. Available in capsule, liquid, or tea form, you can take valerian one to two hours before bed. Tip: valerian has a very strong odour so pill form might be the way to go. Side effects, although minor, may include headache, upset stomach, morning-after sluggishness, and vivid dreams. There isn’t enough safety information available for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
So if you’re a struggling sleeper who prefers to keep things au naturel perhaps “nature’s Valium” is worth a shot.