The root of valerian, a perennial herb native to North America, Asia, and Europe, is used most commonly for its sedative and hypnotic properties in people with insomnia. Multiple preparations are available, and the herb is commonly combined with other herbal medications.
Based on the reviewed studies, the effective dosage of valerian root extract for treatment of insomnia ranges from 300 to 600 mg. An equivalent dose of dried herbal valerian root is 2 to 3 g, soaked in one cup of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes. The product should be ingested 30 minutes to two hours before bedtime.
Or, between 1-3 capsules of Valerian root half an hour before you go to bed (just not more than two hours before bed).
As with all herbal products, people are affected differently. I would recommend taking half the recommended dose the first night then increasing or decreasing depending on how well it worked for you.
Drowsiness (duh), dizziness (duh). In about 10% of people it acts as a stimulant. It also causes nightmares in some people...
I tried valerian root for the first time last night. I work late and I have school early the next morning and I have a hard time falling asleep. I decided to try valerian because I don't like the thought of synthetic sleep-inducers. It's a good thing I only took 1/3 the recommended dosage because I had crazy dreams all night long. Vivid too. I can still remember them. I had hoped it would give me a good night's sleep, but instead I dreamt about cockroaches and people chasing me around with knives. That's not exactly restful. I wouldn't discourage anyone from trying valerian (in fact, I'm gonna take it again tonight just to see if it will affect me the same), but be forewarned. Also, I'm the minority. Most people don't have any problem with valerian.
On the plus side, I didn't wake up groggy.
As with all sleep aids, if you value your liver, DO NOT take it with alcohol, other downers, or antihistimines.