Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Women's Health

Font Size

Natural Sleep Aids and Remedies

If you're searching for a natural sleep aid to put an end to your insomnia, here's something to keep in mind. Some sleep aids and herbal remedies may help induce sleepiness. And even though the FDA does regulate dietary supplements, it treats them like foods rather than medications. Unlike drug manufacturers, the makers of supplements don’t have to show their products are safe or effective before selling them on the market.

What is melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland in the center of your brain. Melatonin regulates the body's circadian rhythms. Those are daily rhythms such as your sleep-wake cycle. The levels of melatonin in the blood are highest prior to bedtime.

Can melatonin help me sleep?

Melatonin may improve sleep. Scientific findings show that melatonin decreases the time it takes to fall asleep ("sleep latency"), increases feelings of "sleepiness," and may increase the duration of sleep.

Melatonin has been used successfully for sleep enhancement in healthy individuals, as well as to reduce feelings of jet lag during global travels. This natural hormone is also being tested as a sleep aid with the elderly and other populations. In addition, studies are focusing on whether or not melatonin can help improve sleep patterns in individuals with depression.

Are there risks associated with taking melatonin?

Melatonin, like all natural dietary supplements, is unregulated and untested for long-term use in humans. Some people find that melatonin causes grogginess and depression. Others report falling asleep quickly with melatonin only to awaken in the middle of the night. Still, studies show that melatonin is safe with short-term use (three months or less).

How much melatonin does it take to help increase sleep?

A host of studies show that as little as 0.1 to 0.3 milligrams may be enough for most people. Experts suggest that the fast-release melatonin is possibly more effective as a sleep remedy than the slow-release formulas.

Is valerian a helpful sleep remedy?

Valerian is an herbal extract. It is one of the leading natural supplements for managing anxiety and insomnia. Some limited findings show that valerian may reduce the time needed to fall asleep and may improve sleep quality. Unlike the benzodiazepines, most people feel no morning grogginess after taking valerian. Other findings were not as promising. They showed that when compared to a placebo, valerian didn't relieve anxiety or insomnia any better than the placebo.

There is some support for the idea that using valerian over a period of time (such as over four weeks) may be more effective than taking it one night only. People who are poor sleepers may find more benefit that those who are normally good sleepers.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Test your knowledge.
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
birth control pills
Learn about your options.
Is it menopause or something else?
woman in bathtub
bp app on smartwatch and phone
estrogen gene

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Blood pressure check
hot water bottle on stomach
Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror