valerian root vs melatonin

Dr. Andy’s Desk: Valerian Root Vs. Melatonin – Which is a Better Fit for Your Child?

One thing pretty much every parent has in common? Sleepless nights. You never truly appreciate a good night’s sleep until you’ve gone without it for days (or, is it more like months? Sometimes it’s hard to even know when it blurs together!). 


As a father myself, I remember the days of bedtime battles with my young kids – and it’s partly a reason we created Good Day Chocolate supplements: to help our kids get more restful sleep, which is essential for all aspects of their development, of course, but also to give parents their much-needed rest!


Good sleep starts with good habits, but sometimes, that isn’t enough to ensure consistent restful sleep. That’s where supplements can come in handy. 


We recently announced a new product: Good Day Chocolate Kids Valerian Root Sleep. We’re so excited to have this natural supplement as part of our lineup because it’s been shown to improve the quality and quantity of those zzzs.


What is Valerian Root?

Valerian Root is a gentle, natural herb and contains several chemical compounds that may impact the human brain and body. Researchers have identified these active compounds in valerian root:

  • Iridoids, also called valepotriates
  • Essential oils, including valerenic acid and valeric acid
  • Lignans
  • Flavonoids (also found in chocolates!)
  • GABA (at low levels)

Where is Valerian Root From?

Valerian Root is a time-tested natural herb, native to North America, Europe, and Asia. It’s been taken as a sleep aid for centuries. There are different varieties but the most common is  used in supplements is from Europe called valerian officinalis.  


How Does Valerian Root Work?

Studies point to valerian root having its effects on serotonin receptors in the brain, which are involved in mood and sleep. Research also suggests valerenic acid affects GABA receptors – a different type of neurotransmitter in the brain that also helps calm the brain down. These effects help explain how valerian root supplements ease anxiety, though its impact could vary from person to person.


So now that we know a bit more about valerian, you might be wondering how valerian root compares to melatonin (we offer chocolates with melatonin, too!). 


Both can help individuals with their sleep, but they work in different ways. Learning how each works can help you determine when to give melatonin or valerian root to your children, in conjunction with discussing sleep supplements with your child’s physician prior to use. Let’s take a look.


Sleep Drive + Sleep Rhythm

When it comes to sleep, there are two important factors to consider: sleep drive and sleep rhythm. Together, they help regulate our sleep and wakefulness, so our bodies can get restful sleep.


Sleep drive is, to put it briefly, a way that our bodies aim to maintain a balance between sleep and wakefulness. One way to think of it is like a balloon: you fill up your “sleep balloon” when you’re awake, and the more you go through your day, the bigger it gets. At bedtime, the bigger your balloon is, the more likely you are to fall and stay asleep – and get good quality sleep. 


Sleep rhythm – or circadian rhythm – is how our sleep/wake rhythms change throughout the day. At some moments, we're sleepier, and some, more alert. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. Read more about the science behind circadian rhythms.


Valerian Root Versus Melatonin for Sleep Support

Now that we know a bit about the different processes that affect sleep, how do each of these supplements help with sleep?


Put simply; Valerian Root can increase sleep drive. It has calming, anti-anxiety properties and helps the body get better quality sleep. In the Good Day Chocolate Kids Valerian Root Sleep formula, we’ve also added L-Theanine, a powerful amino that increases one’s sense of calm and relaxation. This combination works to increase calming neurochemicals and lower physiological arousal, acting as a natural sedative.


Does your child tend to have a hard time falling asleep? Valerian root may help him or her, because it has been shown to help with falling asleep more quickly and improving the quality of sleep. Valerian has about an 80 percent effectiveness rate in improving sleep quality


Melatonin is a hormone that the brain naturally produces once darkness is perceived to help the body fall asleep. The time of day influences the body’s production and release of melatonin, so taking a melatonin supplement can aid the body in regulating sleep rhythm when deficiencies are present or during times when the body needs additional support to regulate.

Can one take Good Day Chocolate Valerian Root and Melatonin Sleep Together?

Yes! In fact, they work together like perfect buddies to help you relax, fall asleep, and stay asleep with better sleep quality, regulating both sleep drive and sleep rhythm. Every ingredient complements the next for an easeful night.

How does this combination of Valerian Root with L-Theanine, and Melatonin work together?

As described above, the combination of Valerian Root extract and L-Theanine create a relaxing effect to increase sleep drive, relieving tension and anxiety to allow for a peaceful transition to sleep. 

Now perfectly primed for sleep, melatonin assists in regulating the body’s rhythm to fall asleep. Here is where the ongoing benefits of valerian root kick in to allow for deeper, higher quality, and more restful sleep. 

This is a truly powerful, natural combination of sleep remedies that is highly safe, but as always, we recommend consulting your child’s physician prior to using any supplement, whether it is melatonin or valerian root. 


So, in summary, melatonin is a hormonal sleep aid; valerian root is an herbal one. Both are effective and could be used individually or in combination to assist in a variety of needs or occasions. Say you’re returning home from a trip across the globe. You or your little one may need help in kicking jet-lag to the curb with a melatonin supplement. Say your child experiences anxiety or is prone to waking in the night. Valerian root’s natural calming properties can help ease anxiety and aid with staying asleep throughout the night. Or perhaps you’re looking for a non-melatonin sleep aid for your kids. Valerian root could be the more effective solution for you.

We hope you found this breakdown of valerian root vs. melatonin helpful, and as always, we’re here to answer your questions about our products and supplements! Drop us a comment or DM us on social with your questions and feedback.