Study objective: Many people use dietary supplements or herbal products to help them sleep. We analyzed the associations between melatonin use and insomnia and between valerian use and insomnia in a representative sample of the United States population.
Design and participants: The data reported upon here were collected in the 2002 Alternative Health/Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Supplement to the National Health Interview Survey. This was a survey of 31,044 personal interviews that constituted an age-representative and socioeconomically representative sample of the civilian noninstitutionalized population of the United States.
Results: Of the survey sample, 5.9% used valerian and 5.2% used melatonin. Of those using valerian, 29.9% endorsed insomnia as 1 reason for CAM use, and, of melatonin users, 27.5% endorsed insomnia as 1 reason for CAM use. Relatively greater use occurred in individuals under age 60 years. The decision to use such substances was made in consultation with a health care provider less than half of the time.
Conclusions: Large segments of the United States population used valerian or melatonin for insomnia within the year preceding the survey, and usage typically fell outside the purview of the health care system.