I decided to try Nytol Herbal for a week in a situation when I know I tend to sleep worse – when I’m away from home and not in my own bed.
I know that it takes me a couple of nights to settle into a new bedroom, so it was a good time to try out a new sleep aid.
I have to admit, I was slightly skeptical that it would work, knowing that research into the sedative effect of valerian, hops, and passionflower is still inconclusive.
At the same time, some healthy skepticism could be a good thing if it helps reduce the potential for the placebo effect to influence my opinion.
Different types of Nytol
There are a few different versions of Nytol, so it’s useful to take a quick look at the difference between them:
Nytol Herbal Tablets – the one I tried first. It contains valerian, hops, and passionflower (photo above).
Nytol Herbal One-A-Night – only contains valerian (photo below).
Nytol Herbal Elixir – valerian in liquid form for those who struggle with tablets.
Nytol Original and Nytol One-A-Night – these aren’t herbal but contain the antihistamine diphenhydramine. They come in blue boxes, whereas the herbal range are in green boxes.
Nytol Liquid Caramel Flavour – it also contains an antihistamine, but as an oral solution for those who don’t like tablets.
Please note that this review is only for Nytol Herbal. To find out more about the stronger antihistamine version, you can read my review of Nytol One-A-Night.
My experience with Nytol Herbal Tablets
The first point to note is that the pills are very small, which meant they were easy to swallow. However, they did have a strong valerian smell since they come in tablet form rather than a capsule.
When I try a new sleep aid, the main problem is that it’s hard to judge how effective it is when it’s only meant to be a mild one when compared to strong prescription sleeping pills. And there are just too many other factors that can contribute to how well you sleep or not.
With a strong pharmaceutical sleeping pill, it’s usually pretty clear if it worked or not. You generally know when you’ve taken one of the strongest ones. Herbal sleep aids can be much more subtle though, so it’s not always easy to determine their effectiveness.
Having said that, I believe I felt a mild sedative effect on the second and third night that I took the Nytol. I slept badly the first night, but there was a big storm that night and the noise kept me up.
It’s a good example of how difficult it is to judge a sleep aid’s effectiveness if there are other factors that are powerful enough to cut through any sedative effect.
It’s possible that the sedative effect I felt on the second and third night was due to tiredness because I’d slept badly the first night. I don’t think it was though, as I felt a mild calming feeling on top of the physical relaxation.
Moreover, I slept reasonably well during the rest of the week too. I didn’t exactly get eight hours of solid sleep every night (I wish!), but I slept well enough to be content with the amount I got and function well the next day.
No side effects in the morning
Importantly, I had no noticeable side effects on any of the mornings after taking Nytol Herbal. I often have a fuzzy head the morning after taking sleep aids containing antihistamines. So it was good not to have the sleeping pill hangover that can take hours rather than minutes to clear sometimes.
Please bear in mind that this was just my experience. It doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed not to experience side effects as you might react differently to the ingredients.
Would I take Nytol Herbal again?
The question is, do they really work as a sleep aid? To my knowledge, no Nytol products have undergone clinical trials (they don’t need to in order to be sold as supplements in the UK), so there is no evidence that they work.
That means I have to decide how willing I am to take them again based on my personal experience and the broader evidence that valerian, hops, and passionflower can really help with sleep.
The scientific evidence is still inconclusive: some studies show they help, others that they don’t, and others that they only have a mild effect for some people.
For example, a review and meta-analysis of 60 previous studies of valerian by a team of Japanese and British researchers in 2020 found that “the outcomes of previous clinical studies are inconsistent”.
Interestingly, they had some room for optimism that valerian “could be a safe and effective herb to promote sleep”. Issues they highlighted include the way it’s prepared, the quantity used, and appropriate partnerships with other ingredients.
Back to my own experience, and I think I would take it again for two reasons. Firstly, I believe I slept reaonably well on the majority of the nights I took it. Secondly, I had no side effects that I could tell.
So even though I think Nytol Herbal is a relatively mild sleep aid, it’s one I’d take again if I was having trouble sleeping.
As always, I wouldn’t take it every night for weeks on end, but I would take it to help break a cycle of bad sleep if nothing else was working. And by nothing else, I mean all the usual good sleep habits which should in theory be enough to help me sleep well as long as I stick to them.
My experience with Nytol Herbal One-A-Night
After trying the original Nytol Herbal, I decided to test the One-A-Night, which only contains valerian, to find out if it was much different. Note that I tested it quite a long time afterward, not the next day!
The first thing I noticed is the improvement in the smell and taste. The previous type had a very strong valerian smell, as I mentioned earlier.
The One-A-Night tablets have a coating though, so the smell is hidden away better. They are larger tablets, but you only take one rather than two or more.
It’s suggested that valerian needs a couple of weeks to build up in your system before it’s most effective, so I duly decided to take it every night for a month in the name of experimentation.
Again, I think it did help a little, providing a mild sedative effect. It never knocked me out as such, but I do think it helped me relax at night.
I’m not sure the effect was much better in the second half of the month though really. If it was, then it wasn’t an effect I could objectively measure, either with my sleep diary or sleep tracker. So if valerian does need a couple of weeks to build up in your system, it’s not an effect I could tell.
On the whole though, I think I slept reasonably well most nights of the month. Interestingly, I couldn’t tell much difference between this version and the Nytol Herbal with all three herbs. Perhaps the valerian is the main player in the mix; perhaps it was just the placebo effect in both cases – it’s hard to say.
The ingredients of Nytol Herbal
According to the information sheet when I bought it, the ingredients are:
- 200 mg extract of hops
- 160 mg extract of valerian
- 130 mg extract of passion flower
- Calcium hydrogen phosphate
- Microcrystalline cellulose (E 460)
- Stearic acid
- Magnesium stearate
- Hypromellose 4500
- Polyethylene glycol 400
- Iron oxides (E 171)
- Titanium dioxide (E 171)
Out of these ingredients, it’s the hops, valerian and passionflower which are meant to have the sedative and calming effect.
Who shouldn’t take it
The sheet came with these warnings of situations when you shouldn’t take them:
- If you’ve ever had an allergy to hops, valerian or passionflower, or any of the other ingredients listed above.
- If you suffer from depression.
- If you’re under 12 years old.
- You shouldn’t drive or operate heavy machinery.
- You shouldn’t mix them with alcohol.
- You should talk to your doctor if you’re taking any other medications, especially beta blockers or any that can make you drowsy.
- You should talk to your doctor before taking them if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
Possible side effects of Herbal Nytol
The information sheet advised speaking to your doctor if you experience any of these side effects:
- Stomach cramps.
- Palpitations or feeling faint.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Fever and headaches.
- Gastroenteritis or diarrhea.
As with any medication, if you notice any symptoms after taking them it’s wise to stop taking them and contact a medical professional.
Nytol Herbal One-A-Night information
This version only contains one active ingredient, valerian 385 mg, and came with fewer warnings.
Similar precautions are advised in terms of when not to take it:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women.
- If you’re allergic to the ingredients.
- Don’t drive or operate machinery.
- Don’t drink excessive amounts of alcohol.
- Consult your doctor if you take any other medication or sleep aids.
The possible side effects listed are:
- Abdominal cramps.
What others say about it
On the US Amazon site, Nytol Herbal has a rating of 4 out of 5 at the time of writing, with over 3600 customer ratings. On the UK Amazon site, it currently has a score of 4 out of 5, with over 4000 ratings in total.
For an over the counter sleep aid sold online, 4 out of 5 stars is a relatively high score (assuming you can trust the ratings). And it does mean that there are a large number of people who felt it didn’t help much.
Many readers have left comments since I first wrote this review, which has been helpful to read. Interestingly, some people find Nytol doesn’t work at all, whereas others have had a very positive experience.
So really, my feeling is that there’s just no way to predict how well it will work for you until you try it – if you decide to of course.
Have you tried Nytol Herbal or One-A-Night? Did you find it helped you sleep better?
Feel free to share your thoughts or experiences in the comments below.
First time trying Ntol herbal. 3 days in and I have had the most lovely 10hr sleep each night for 3 days and feel relaxed. It may wake me, but I look at the clock and fall straight back to sleep, and I must say wake up feeling refreshed and pain free.
Thanks for sharing your experience. I imagine you must be pleased to have had such good sleep!
Hello. I’ve been taking half a (blue packet) Nytol tablet, which gets me off to sleep gently and does actually give me a great sleep. I’m not sure that the herbal will help, having tried them years ago with no effect at all.
But: Warning! I just read a study which concludes that:
Nytol contains Diphenhydramine which is also used for motion sickness and extrapyramidal symptoms in Parkinson’s disease patients. Potential harm to the brain: Long-term anticholinergic use has been associated with increased dementia risk; diphenhydramine can impair many cognitive functions including memory. Taking these medications for longer than 3 years is a huge risk. This is why they advise not to take them long-term.
For the past 6 months I’ve been getting great sleep, even from half a Nytol tablet – no more lying awake, feeling horrible in the daytime. but the risk of dementia is too high, so I’m back to square one.
I hope this informs other poor sleepers too.
Thanks for your comment. I know there is some controversy around antihistamine use, especially in older adults. I think this is something to speak to your doctor about really, as they should be able to advise you on appropriate sleep aid use for you personally.
I have been taking Nytol Herbal One-A-Night for the past 10 nights and finally starting to get good sleep again. I have always suffered from insomnia on and off for the past 5/6 years and prefer not to take prescribed medication. It takes a few nights for it to truly work. How long can you take valerian root for sleep? Is it okay long term?
I’m not a doctor, so generally avoid giving personalised advice about using sleep aids. What I would say is from my own research, it seems that many medical sites suggest not taking it for longer than a month without checking in with a doctor.
I have been suffering from sleep apnea, this has been especially bad over the last 3 weeks. I had one (Nytol Herbal, one a night) at first and it didn’t seem to have any effect (I am 6ft 5 so thought I may need more) it does say take 2 if needed in the instructions. The effect was amazing, I had a full 7 hours sleep, I will be seeing the doctor later this month and will ask if this is OK. I didn’t have any side effects either.
I’ve been trying my 1st round of Nytol for just over a week, as I’m having trouble sleeping and thought that these might help. I must say that they do not work for me. I’m taking the prescribed amount to no joy. I tried taking 1, but still no joy. They just keep me awake. I’ve tried taking them with sleep herbal tea, but still nothing. Is there anything else that I can do, to try and get a decent nights sleep?
Sorry to hear they didn’t work out for you. There is plenty you can try, from different sleep aids to natural techniques / sleep hygiene. I also recommend reading an article I wrote about how I cope with insomnia. You might find some useful tips there.
Long term insomniac here. Over the years tried every ‘natural’ cure I can think of or have read about.
I don’t like Nytol at all. Though they seem to provide a slight calming effect on general anxiety and sometimes get me off to sleep, I wake about 4/5 hours later extremely aware of my heartbeat which is pounding and continues like this off and on till I rise. Most unpleasant and worrying. I also waken with dry eyes and feeling unrested.
Thanks for sharing your experience. If it were me, I would not take any more with those side effects – assuming it is the Nytol causing it. Have you had similar problems with any other sleep aid that has the same ingredients?
I’ve had insomnia for some years and have just tried nytol herbal 2 a night. For the first 2 nights I took 2 tablets and had the best sleep ever, but was drowsy next day so tried one for the next 3 nights. Sleep is still great, its life changing. But I sleep for nine hours and still feel drowsy in the day. Can I use half a tablet? I cant find any information on cutting the tablet. I have the type of insomnia where I get to sleep fast but wake and stay awake after a couple of hours sleep.
It’s not really for me to say whether it’s ok to do or not – sorry! Usually, I recommend sticking with the recommended doses or asking a doctor for their advice on cutting tablets.
Hi i have been taking them only 2 nights and in the morning I’m having same side effects I’m so drowsy and tired all the next day feeling like I’ve not slept proply
i have just taken herbal and it smelt terrible and tasted bad almost like stool type smell
That would be the valerian, which is famous for smelling bad. Some tablets smell more than others because they don’t coat it so much. So if you can’t stand it, but think valerian is a good option for you, try a different brand perhaps. Or hold your nose and swallow it with a big glass of something!
Have taken these tablets last 3 nights and I have slept all through the night, but the following mornings I have woken up with stomach cramps and diarrhoea. Shall not be taking these ever again and certainly not recommending to anyone in the future.
Thanks for sharing your experience, which doesn’t sound very nice at all. They definitely aren’t the ones for you it seems!
Some good reading in this and the comparison to the non herbal version.
I’m a very light sleeper and as long as the house is quiet when I go to bed I’ll generally drop off after 40/45 minutes.
However, if a bird starts tweeting, or my neighbour’s dog half a mile away starts barking (I live in the deep countryside) that can wake me and I may not get back to sleep.
My sister lives with me and decides to talk to people on the phone at 3 and 4am and won’t keep the voice down, no matter how often I ask her. I work long hours, she doesn’t work so doesn’t see the issue.
I tried herbal Nytol as that’s all that Asda have, and as I’m desperate for a decent night’s sleep. I took the leaflet’s advice on taking one tablet earlier in the evening and then a second about half an hour before bed.
This appeared to work as I woke up the next morning 5 minutes before my 4.30 alarm.
I thought great, this is it.
I was wrong. Next night and the following 4 nights, usual sleep disruptions, early wakens, and usual inability to get back to sleep.
I’m going to try the blue box tonight and the next few. I don’t want to go down the route of asking my doctor for prescription sleeping aids, and think the herbal ones are a waste of time.
Thanks for your informative reviews.
Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad to hear the reviews have been helpful for you. Unfortunately, with these mild herbal sleep aids, there never seems to be any guarantee they will work night after night in equal measure. If only they did! Perhaps taking themm for a few more nights to let the valerian build up in your system might help (assuming that theory has some merit!). But at the end of the day, practical sleep hygiene techniques might end up being just as, if not more, effective – if you find the techniques that you were perhaps missing before.
Hi. I have had trouble getting off to sleep for years. Ive been taking herbal nytol for years now but I feel I should stop. Im 53 and going through the menopause. My sweats and nightmares are really bad at the moment and my memory is getting worse. Probably a combination of factors. Should I stop taking the tablets immediately or should I wean off them?
Are you able to have a meeting with your doctor, in person or video, to ask their opinion? For me, I don’t have a problem stopping taking herbal sleep aids. But if you’ve been taking them for years, perhaps it might help you feel more comfortable stopping slowly. You could perhaps try replacing them with tea instead for a while to get a lower dosage of the same ingredient too.
I tried two tablets last night, I had side effects, my heart was thumping, I couldn’t rest, I felt anxious, my stomach was upset, I had cold sweats and shivers, after a few hours I fell asleep, I slept well and woke up feeling fine.
That doesn’t sound good. I would steer clear of them if I had those symptoms.
I have been taking magnesium at night for restless legs, which really works, but still suffered from sleeplessness. Have found that taking Nytol Herbal tablets as well has improved my sleep enormously over the last month. Is it safe to continue with this combination in the long term? Have found your review and the comments really helpful, thank you.
Thanks for your comment and I’m glad you found the article helpful. Annoying as it might be, I try to avoid giving advice about dosages and appropriate times for taking medication on this website because I’m not a doctor. Sometimes if something sounds really off, I might suggest thinking about it more carefully or getting a medical opinion. With supplements that are easily bought over the counter, my advice is still often to stick to the general guidelines about the length of time they should be taken – e.g. a couple of weeks max for sleep aids. And if it’s still an issue after then, speak to a doctor to see if they can either help in a different way or advise you on the appropriateness of continuing.
My son is 14 and half suffers from anxiety and is waiting for anxiety medication hopefully. He hasn’t slept well for months averaging 4hrs each day, not falling asleep until about 9 am (awake all night)
Can he take half a nytol tablet to help him?
Sorry to hear he’s having a hard time with his anxiety and sleep. I wish I felt in a position to give you direct advice, but I don’t think I have the right qualifications to tell you whether you should or shouldn’t give him Nytol. I would discuss this with his doctor and/or check what the current advice is about giving them to people his age and if there are any potential issues when you consider his entire medical history and current usage of any other meds etc.
What I would definitely advice though is also looking into non-drug methods for dealing with anxiety. When I have periods of anxiety personally, I find pretty much anything helps that it classic advice – meditation, yoga, doing exercise, spending time with loved ones, hanging out with my best friend doing something I love. Taking a mini break, going for a long walk in a beautiful spot. These things can all make a difference – which work for him will depend on his likes and dislikes.
I only take a half tablet of the blue box. Take approximately 1hr before bed. They work brilliantly for me.
I’ve tried all varieties of Nytol and find that whilst the standard variety Diphenhydramine does nothing to aid my sleep, the valerian root variety does create a calming and drowsy effect. I suppose everyone is different but I was skeptical of these after disappointing results from the original variety. The only disconcerting issue I have with valerian is it seems to reduce my heart rate to quite a slow rhythm, so I’d say if you’re taking a beta-blocker such as metoprolol, you should avoid valerian due to the potential to induce bradycardia effects. In any case, speak to your GP or pharmacist before taking these to ensure you’ll not be exasperating an existing medical condition.
Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience. You’re right in that people respond differently to different sleep aids and dosages. And you’re also right in that it’s always a good idea to check first before taking a sleep aid if you have preexisting medical conditions.
Nytol herbal one a night has random effects on me, sometimes I feel the slightest bit of sedation but then there’s the other 90% of the time where it does absolutely nothing at all.
I get insomnia all the time days without hardly a wink of sleep, my doctor gave me zopiclone 7.50mg but after a few weeks it literally stopped working so now I only have amitriptyline to fall back to which honestly makes you feel tired into the next day.. and that’s also varied because sometimes it simply doesn’t work at all.
I have klinefelters syndrome and have to use tostran daily, I believe that using a steroid that gives you a boost mentality wise but also which massively speeds you up is a terrible thing when you already have anxiety issues and yet I’m totally dependant on it, so when it comes to sleep for me in general.. nothing but nightmares.. slight case of sleep paralysis and sleep apnea too.
Overall nytol herbal simply seems to be primarily focused on your bodies own defense mechanism in a sense.. by using testosterone daily my metabolism is extremely high, coupled with e-cigs nicotine my body is tired and yet my brain is extremely overactive, I wish I could sleep like a normal person but alas.. can’t be helped.
I’ve tried every version of nytol, the antihistamine version I’d say is the better out of all of them.. based on my situation I’m complex, so nytol herbal may work for others so it’s worth a shot if your interested.
Had a terrible night after taking 2 of these… could feel them pulsating through my body all night long, was twitching badly, tossing & turning, and hot & sweaty. Think I got a bit of sleep not long before my alarm at 6:30am, but had weird dream. Feel terrible today. The packet is now in the bin. Waste of £4.50.
Same think happened to me also. I had exact same symptoms so they are in the bin! I had two nightmares when I finally got about 2 hours sleep. Will never use them again!
Hello there…tried these for repeated insomnia..had the weirdest dreams that I didn’t like at all! I am on low amount beta blockers though and wondered if that was the cause…I kept waking up feeling like I didn’t know where I was..a bit of unreality..most odd…I took kalms before..perhaps I should go back to them?
Thanks for sharing your experience. I would ask your doctor about this to see what they recommend. But if you had a better experience with Kalms in the past, maybe that would work better for you.
I tried the herbal once a night tablet two nights ago. Had a slightly better sleep than usual but felt quite groggy the next day. Took one last night too but, although I did actually get about 4 hours sleep, I woke up feeling like I’d been poisoned – really bad nausea and stomach ache followed by a headache which has lasted all day. I won’t be taking these again! It’s put me off using any medication for a while whether herbal or not. Back to hot chocolate, a lavender pillow spray and avoiding alcohol and ‘blue’ screens before bed.
Thanks for sharing your unpleasant-sounding experience. Sorry to hear you had that reaction to the Nytol. I’d probably avoid the ingredients in the future – which it sounds like you will anyway!
Waste of money this product didn’t work for me and kept me for 2 days without sleep
I struggle with insomnia and have PTSD and I have been using Herbal Nytol for a couple of years and it’s an important sleep aid for me. I find it not only relaxes me but I get a great nights sleep, and my mind tends to be much calmer for a short while the next day.
Thanks for your comment. It’s great you have something herbal that can help you sleep and relax better. Have you thought about trying it in tea form rather than a sleep aid?
The herbal one a night are fantastic for me, I work irregular hours and also have OCD which one of the symptoms are fast thoughts which cause me to not sleep. I was getting sometimes 30 mins sleep a night, since taking these tablets I don’t wake up at all now and literally get a full nights sleep, they help me to stay in a deep deep sleep. Honestly, these tablets are awesome I never ever thought over counter herbal tablets would work, I was just so desperate, looks like it paid off.
Thanks for your comment. It’s great that they work so well for you!
I am 67, female and came off HRT seven years ago, on retirement and the menopause symptoms hit with a bang and irratic sleep started then. Most symptoms have gone but all of a sudden I had real insomnia, sleeping one hour or none at night. The doctor gave me sleeping tablets and anti anxiety tablets, which just knocked me out all the next day even at reduced amounts. I have been taking herbal nytol for five days and found that twice a day really good. Two teaspoons in the evening and 2 before bed. I also have good night hygeine (blackout curtains, no blue lights on, no tv in room etc.) I have no caffeine now, nor chocolate and eat sleep- inducing foods: kiwi fruit, turkey, passion flower juice, cammomile tea, oily fish, no alcohol and a drink of milk before bed. I must say the elixier nytol is part of a whole new regime but the sleep is worth it. I’m about to try the tablets now as local chemists have run out of liquid nytol. Hope this helps.(ps. I do find breathing exercises, some mild yoga, and relaxation techniques help a little)
Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience. It sounds like you’re doing all the right things where sleep hygiene is concerned, which is great. And if the Nytol helps a little too, it’s good to know you have something that can give you the sleep you need.
Why is it that you cane take Nytol herbal if you suffer from depression?
I think it’s because of the risk of valerian interacting with medication commonly prescribed for depression, or having a negative effect on the person’s mental health. If you check with your personal doctor, they will clear it for you or not.
I’ve taken 2 tablets and 5 hours later I still wide awake. Are you sure they aren’t caffeine tablets.
They definitely don’t contain caffeine! They don’t work for everyone though, and it looks like you’re probably in that group.
I’ve been taking Nytol one a night for two weeks with little effect. They contain 385mg of valerian root extract and I’m not sleeping any better.
I’m finding I’m having to get two and sometimes three times a night to urinate.
I decided to research the ingredients and have found that valerian is a diuretic and can be used to treat high blood pressure.
This explains why I’m not sleeping any better – my bladder won’t let me!
Hope this may help others.
Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience. That is an effect of valerian for some people, though fortunately not all!
I am 15 years old and I have trouble sleeping. It says 18 and over for the medication. Could I use it ?
Thanks for your comment. It’s a good idea to ask your parents and/or doctor for their advice about that. I’d also recommend having a read of some of the sections on this site about sleeping better that don’t involve sleep aids. You can often make a big difference just with those methods. Have a read of this article for a good starting point.