Valerian root and melatonin are both well-established natural sleep aids, but they belong in separate categories. Valerian root is an herbal supplement, whereas melatonin is a hormone. These two natural sleep aids help you fall asleep through completely different mechanisms.
For this reason, it doesn’t make sense to do a direct comparison between valerian root vs melatonin – but the good news is we don’t really need to! They don’t interact, and they’re mild enough that they can actually be taken together for a more complete sleep supplement.
Read on to learn more about how valerian root and melatonin work, how to make both more effective, other natural sleep aids you can try, and which supplements work best. Note that MELO Sip from MELO Labs contains both melatonin and valerian root (among other natural sleep aids), so it’s a perfect option for those who can’t decide between the two.
At a glance:
How Do Melatonin and Valerian Root Work?
Valerian root and melatonin can improve your sleep quality and help you get more restful sleep, but they do so differently. In this section, we’ll look at how the two natural sleep aids work, and what sort of sleep troubles each is designed to target.
Valerian is a plant with pink or white flowers originally from Europe and Asia whose roots seem to have mild sedative effects on the brain and central nervous system. According to the NIH, ancient Roman and Greek cultures used valerian root as an herbal remedy for insomnia. It is also a staple of traditional Chinese medicine, where it’s been used to treat anxiety and stress.
A systematic review and meta-analysis from the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine found valerian root to be a “safe and effective herb to promote sleep,” especially deep sleep. That said, the researchers noted that there were some inconsistencies in the literature, likely due to differences in quality of the valerian supplements being tested.
They also suggest the effects of a valerian root supplement can be enhanced by taking it with other appropriate herbal supplements. For instance, while the researchers didn’t specifically test it alongside chamomile, the two herbal supplements are often taken together for a more effective relaxation boost. (MELO Sip has both.)
In short, valerian root is a natural sleep aid with a mild calming effect, and there are virtually no valerian root side effects. It’s a great option for treating sleep disturbances caused by anxiety and stress, and combining it with other calming herbal supplements can help you get a good night’s sleep.
Melatonin is a sleep hormone. Alongside serotonin, it is produced by the brain’s pineal gland and governs your circadian rhythm (sleep wake cycle). It does so by responding to light: Bright light suppresses melatonin and stimulates serotonin, while darkness stimulates melatonin and suppresses serotonin. Melatonin is meant to prime your body for sleep.
A meta-analysis from PLOS One found melatonin supplements could improve sleep quality. They can also be used to treat sleep disorders, though the researchers note the effects are mild. As with valerian root, it has a very low risk of adverse side effects, and continued use won’t cause addiction. In particular, it is known to boost REM sleep.
Melatonin is also influenced by your sleep habits. For instance, since bright light is known to suppress melatonin, bright light exposure in the evening can block melatonin and disrupt your sleep wake cycle. For this reason, it’s a good idea to practice good sleep hygiene (which we’ll talk about next) to help you get the most out of your melatonin supplement.
As a natural sleep aid, melatonin is ideal for treating poor sleep that results from external changes to your schedule, such as jet lag. When dealing with jet lag or any other sudden change to your sleep schedule, taking melatonin can help reset your circadian rhythm.
How to Make Valerian Root and Melatonin More Effective
Valerian root and melatonin can help you sleep, but their effects are mild and can be influenced by things like sleep habits. To get the most out of these (and other) natural sleep supplements, keep the following in mind.
Use a Better Form of Melatonin
Many forms of melatonin do not work quickly or efficiently, because they’re in pill form. In fact, according to a clinical trial from the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, melatonin pills have an average of 15% bioavailability – meaning the vast majority of the melatonin in these pills gets wasted.
Liquid melatonin works much faster and has better bioavailability. Medicare Europe claims liquid supplements can be absorbed in as little as 1-4 minutes, and they have 98% bioavailability. Inhaled substances are absorbed even more quickly and efficiently. Try MELO Sip for liquid melatonin and MELO Air for vaporized melatonin, either of which will work much better than pills.
Find the Right Combination of Sleep Supplements
The effects of natural sleep supplements are mild, and they generally work differently from one another. Using them in combination can be more effective than taking any one by itself. There’s no reason to limit yourself to just valerian root and melatonin – other natural sleep aids can also be taken alongside both, as we’ll see in the next section.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Good sleep hygiene refers to a set of daily habits and behaviors known to promote sleep. By contrast, poor sleep hygiene, or habits that work against your sleep, will make any sleep supplement less effective. Here are some sleep-promoting habits to help you sleep better and get more out of your sleep supplements.
Be Smart About Light Exposure
Because melatonin production is regulated by light exposure, it’s crucial to make sure your exposure to bright light happens at the right time of day. Getting some sunlight (or failing that, any bright light) in the morning will help energize you, while limiting light exposure in the evening will help trigger your body’s natural melatonin production.
Additionally, you’ll want to limit exposure to blue light (from electronic devices) in the evening. If using an electronic device is part of your evening routine, consider trying blue light blocking glasses.
Get Exercise Early in the Day
Exercise in the morning or afternoon can help you get better sleep. However, it’s important to do this early in the day, since exercise also inhibits melatonin production. Avoid vigorous exercise late at night.
Keep Your Bedroom Cool, Dark, and Quiet
According to the Sleep Foundation, the best temperatures for sleep are between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because your body temperature drops at night, so cooling your sleeping environment will help prime you for sleep.
Additionally, you’ll want to limit sound and light as much as possible. Use earplugs and eye masks to block any sound or light beyond your control.
Stick to a Consistent Sleep Schedule
As much as possible, try to go to bed and wake up at roughly the same times each day. Consistency helps your circadian rhythm function at its best, giving you restful sleep each night. By contrast, going to sleep or waking up at different times each day can result in disrupted sleep.
Sometimes, changes in our sleep schedules are unavoidable. For instance, traveling, changing your clock for daylight savings, or having to wake up extra early for an appointment can interfere with your circadian rhythm and disrupt your sleep. In general, though, sticking to a consistent schedule will help you recover faster on those occasions when it does get disrupted.
Take the Right Dose of Sleep Supplements
To make sure your sleep supplements work as effectively as they can, it’s important to figure out the right dose. Counterintuitively, taking too much melatonin can actually make your sleep troubles worse. The ideal melatonin dosage is about 0.5 to 5 mg in the evening before bedtime. If taking a pill, aim to take it 1-2 hours before bed, or 30 minutes for a liquid supplement.
There’s little risk of overdose for valerian root, but the ideal valerian root dosage is between 300 and 600 mg 30 minutes before bed for liquid supplements, or 1-2 hours before bed for pills.
Keep in mind that how you take the supplement also matters. As we’ve already seen, supplements that come in pill form take longer to be absorbed, but they also tend to have worse bioavailability than liquid supplements. A lot of the contents of pills never get absorbed. Liquid supplements are a better option for both absorption time and bioavailability.
Other Natural Sleep Aids
Many other natural sleep aids can also help people fall asleep faster, especially when taken at the same time. Note that MELO Sip has all of the following natural sleep aids, making it one of the most complete sleep supplements on the market.
Like valerian root, chamomile is an herbal remedy used since ancient times. An overview from Pharmacognosy Reviews suggests it has mild sedative effects and can help induce deep sleep. It is typically consumed as a tea, but it can also be taken as a supplement.
L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea and certain mushrooms that is also used as a sleep supplement and relaxation aid. A study from Biological Psychology found l-theanine to have antistress effects by suppressing the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for the “fight or flight” stress response).
Gamma Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)
Gamma aminobutyric acid, or GABA, is a neurotransmitter responsible for sleep regulation. Its main function is to block signals from the central nervous system in order to produce a calming effect and regulate mood.
More recently, it’s been used as a natural sleep aid. A 2018 randomized double-blind controlled trial from the Journal of Clinical Neurology found GABA supplements could improve sleep quality without harmful side effects in patients with insomnia.
Some vitamins and minerals are known to support sleep, and deficiencies of these micronutrients could lead to sleep problems. For instance, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin D, potassium, and zinc are all crucial for optimal sleep function. Conveniently, all these micronutrients are contained in MELO Sip.
Valerian Root vs Melatonin: Try Melo Labs for Both
To help you get a good night’s sleep, valerian root and melatonin can be combined, working alongside each other to help you relax and reset your circadian rhythm. As we’ve seen, they do different things – valerian root is more of a calming herbal supplement, while melatonin helps prime your body for sleep – so they can each boost the other’s effects.
In fact, it may be particularly beneficial to combine them, given that melatonin promotes REM sleep while valerian root promotes deep sleep. This is a bit of an oversimplification, since both supplements promote all types of sleep, but combining them may make them even more effective at doing so.
But there’s no reason to stop there. In addition to valerian root and melatonin, herbal supplements and natural sleep aids like chamomile, l-theanine, and GABA can all work in concert with each other to give you the best night’s sleep possible. Each has mild effects on its own, but taken together, they’ll have a more noticeable sedative effect.
MELO Sip from MELO Labs is hands-down the best option for anyone interested in a combination of the above sleep supplements. In fact, not only does it contain melatonin, valerian root, chamomile, l-theanine, and GABA, but it also has a combination of micronutrients and electrolytes to keep you hydrated while you sleep.
MELO Sip is easy to use: Simply add it to a glass of water (use however much you want), mix well, and drink. It comes in three great-tasting flavors and contains no added sugar or sugar alcohols. Take it up to 30 minutes before getting into bed. You’ll get improved sleep, and you’ll feel refreshed the next morning.