By Ashley Tibbits
Work load, personal relationships, financial burdens, and more environmental factors can seriously impair your sleeping habits, which means that even the best of us can — and will — suffer from restlessness and poor sleep quality from time to time. But if those are things you’re struggling with right now, it’s nice to know that you don’t have to get a prescription for remedies that are proven to help. In the booming business that is the modern wellness world, more and more natural options for getting better sleep are becoming available — but which one should you try?
In the case of Valerian Root vs melatonin, two of the most popular sleep supplements, there are a few important factors to consider. For example: How do they work? Are they vegan? What side effects can they cause? Can they be used together? Getting to the bottom of these questions can help you narrow down which is the best choice for your nighttime routine. To make things a little easier, read ahead to get a crash course on both supplements and what you can expect from each, including the good, the bad, and the sleepy.
Melatonin is currently the most well-known and widely used “natural” sleep supplement. But what exactly is it? Melatonin is actually a hormone your body already produces, and it’s what maintains your circadian rhythms, or your body’s internal clock, which tells you when it’s time to go to sleep. Many studies have seen success with melatonin as a way to get back on track with your sleeping habits, specifically in the case of jet lag. What’s also unique about this supplement is that it’s the only hormone available over-the-counter. That said, there are some things to be aware of if you’re interested in trying it for your own sleep habits.
Is Melatonin Vegan?
For one thing, because melatonin is produced by animals, in its natural form it cannot be a vegan supplement. But even if you’re avoiding animal products, it might be important to note that most melatonin on the market is actually synthetically crafted and the manmade forms are currently not regulated by the FDA.
What are the Side Effects of Melatonin?
There are also a few known side effects of too much melatonin, including headaches, nausea, dizziness, and drowsiness, according to Medical News Today. And experts say that because it has an especially intense effect on children and fetuses, pregnant women are advised to avoid it.
Studies also show that melatonin may become ineffective with consistent use, and may result only in unpleasant side effects (like feeling groggy during the day) instead of consistently improved sleep quality.
The first main difference between these two sleep supplements is that Valerian Root is plant-based. Valerian is a perennial plant native to Europe and Asia, and its roots and stems have been used in teas and tinctures for poor sleep and other ailments since Ancient Greek and Roman times. According to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, it was even used to combat stress in England during WWII.
How Does Valerian Root Work?
Research shows that some of Valerian Root’s sedative properties can be attributed to two of its compounds: valerenic acid and valepotriates. But more than likely, its effectiveness at offering the majority of test subjects both better, deeper sleep and an easier time falling asleep (as compared to placebos) is due to its ability to increase your body’s production of gamma aminobutyric acid or GABA. This neurotransmitter helps to block certain brain signals, thus offering a calming effect.
What are the Side Effects of Valerian Root?
As for potential side effects, clinical trials showed that headaches, dizziness, and gastrointestinal disturbances were among the most common — but there are also mirrored results of placebo users. Much like with melatonin, pregnant women, small children, and anyone using alcohol or other sedatives should probably skip this supplement.
Can you Take Valerian Root and Melatonin Together?
If both Valerian Root and Melatonin sound like good options to you (and if you’re really struggling to fall asleep), it may be tempting to take them together. But not so fast. Many experts believe that the combination of sedatives can intensify the side effects, such as drowsiness, so it’s best to use one at a time — and obviously, talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
As with all supplements, the best sleep supplement for you will be somewhat subjective, if it’s a natural, animal, product-free option you’re looking for, Valerian Root just might be your best choice. One way to try out its super-sleep abilities is with FOCL Night, which also includes premium hemp CBD, hops flower, Ashwagandha, and Purple Passion Flower, creating an all-star team of soothing, stress-relieving, and sleep-inducing ingredients.