Insomnia is a common problem requiring appropriate recognition and management. Despite recent advances in the development of newer hypnotics in western medicine, a significant proportion of patients with insomnia, both locally and internationally, consume herbal hypnotics regularly. The safety and efficacy of these herbal remedies remains uncertain. In this paper, details of different herbs used in western and traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of insomnia are reviewed. Although current data suggests the use of some herbal treatments in insomnia may be efficacious, further laboratory and clinical studies are required.