Natural Sleep Aids - Your Answer to Getting Meaningful, Restful Sleep
Sleeplessness, insomnia, tossing and turning, mental chatter, anxiety. Many of us have experienced one, or maybe even a few of these annoyances at one time or another.
Well I say, let there be an end to reading the most boring book you can find trying in vain to FINALLY fall asleep! There are herbal allies at hand.
Not being able to fall asleep is practically an epidemic these days, but it can be remedied fairly easily with natural sleep aids if you know what the underlying cause is. These can be under several different categories including but not limited to: stress, hormones, unique health situations, anxiety…etc. Once you have pinned it down to a reason why you can’t fall asleep, only then will you be able to remedy the situation.
You may be wondering why you have to spend time figuring out the root cause when you could easily just take melatonin or some other form of over-the-counter drugs that induce sleep.
Well, herbs don’t exactly work that way.
Herbs have affinities for certain systems in the body and therefore have different energetics and "directions" associated with them.
This basically means that you can’t just take any herb for a general complaint because there are different types of sleeplessness just as there are different types of pain. So, try to think about why you’re not sleeping at all or why you're not sleeping well and then check out my list below.
In this article I will cover a few tried and true remedies that I have used in the past with great results, so let’s get started!
Gentle Natural Sleep Aids Using Herbs
It’s no secret that the most common cause for insomnia and un-restful sleep is stress. A lot of us get into bed tense and cranky when we should be relaxed.
Chamomile - Sedative and Relaxing
Chamomile is one of the most gentle and relaxing sleep aids. It eases those under stress and induces sleep easily due to its high calcium and magnesium content and sedative properties.
Chamomile is very effective for those you have exhausted nervous systems and for people who tend to complain about everything as it calms worry and hopelessness. It is even suitable for children.
• Steep 1 TBS of dried or fresh herb or 1 bag of tea in 1 cup of water. (you can even use chamomile tincture)
• The longer you steep, the more effective it will be. But beware! It will get quite bitter.
• Take this tea 2 hours before you would like to go to sleep.
Lavender - Relaxing and Peaceful
Lavender is well known for its soothing and calming properties. It is most commonly used as an aromatic herb to help relax tension and induce sleep.
Tea Preparation -
• Steep 1-2 teaspoon of lavender in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes and consume 2 hours before bedtime.
• Take 40-60 drops of lavender tincture (you can find this at Whole Foods too) 1 hour before bedtime.
• Place a lavender sachet near your pillow and breathe deeply upon retiring.
• Apply 1 drop of lavender essential oil on your temples and breathe deeply. Think of pleasant thoughts.
• Spray lavender mist on your sheets and pillowcase, then go brush your teeth. When you return, your linens will be dry and your room will smell divine! Breathe deeply.
Note: The scent of Lavender can be quite strong. I suggest using the smallest amount first, and then using more if desired.
Hops - Indigestion and Sleeplessness
Hops is especially useful when you have insomnia coupled with indigestion. Hops can also be used as a sachet as a sleeping aid and to ease or prevent nightmares. It is known to promote a deep and refreshing sleep.
Hops are usually taken in capsule form. Take 500-1,000 mg up to 3 times a day to ease stress. It does have a slight sedative effect, so keep that in mind if you use it during the day.
Note: Do not take hops if you are feeling low or are depressed.
Passionflower - Mental Chatter and an Overactive Mind
Passion flower is one of my favorite herbs for sleep that is inhibited by mental chatter. When thoughts are going round and round in your head and you’re feeling anxious, turn to passionflower for its calming properties.
Passionflower is also known to relax muscles, reduce anxiety, calm irritability, and induce sleep without any grogginess the next morning.
• Take 1 teaspoon of tincture with water 1 hour before bedtime.
Natural Sleep Aids With a Kick
St. John’s Wort- Happiness and Deep Sleep
Although St. John’s Wort is better known for its effectiveness against depression, one should also merit its effectiveness in increasing the amount of time we spend in deep sleep.
Deep Sleep is the most important part of the sleep cycle as it is the time when our body is most able to restore and replenish itself. If you are having interrupted, un-restful sleep, you may want to consider St. John’s Wort as an herbal ally. Not only will it raise your sense of happiness and wellbeing, it will also improve the quality of one’s sleep.
Note: St. John’s Wort is known to interact with certain prescription medications (like birth control). Take a care when considering the usage of this herb.
• Take ½ teaspoon with water up to 3 times a day.
• Take 900mg of St. John’s Wort per day.
Valerian - Induces Sleep Quickly
Valerian is a great herb to have in your arsenal if you need to sleep quickly due to time constraints, for people who work night shifts and have trouble sleeping during the day, or for those who just want to fall asleep as quickly as possible.
Valerian is highly sedative and is not recommended for use during the day if you plan on using machinery or have to stay alert for any reason. If taken as a tincture, Valerian can induce sleep as quickly as 7 minutes to upwards of 30 minutes depending on the density of your evening meal.
Valerian is also great to use if you have spasmodic cramping or coughing that is keeping you awake at night.
I prefer to take Valerian as a capsule or as a tincture because it is quite smelly and I don’t particularly enjoy the tea for this reason (think of sweaty gym socks….blech). But don’t let that dissuade you! Valerian packs a punch that will literally knock you out for hours...it is one of the best herbal remedies for sleep.
Note: Start at the lowest dosage first for Valerian. It isn’t harmful, but if you take more than the suggested dosage, you may find yourself finding all kinds of things to do because it is also a stimulating herb. I took 1 more capsule than was recommended one time, and within an hour, my apartment was somehow spotless. Don’t use it as a stimulating nervine though! You ARE going to crash, take this from my personal experience.
Follow the recommended dosage on the product packaging. It is usually 1 or 2 capsules depending on potency.
Follow the recommended dosage on the product packaging. It is usually about a ½ tsp.
California Poppy - Fall Asleep Quickly and Soundly
This is another herb that will induce sleep very quickly when the need arises. It is gently sedative and is beneficial against difficulty in sleeping, nervous tension, and anxiety.
I like to use this herb in tincture form because it doesn't particularly taste very good as a tea, but is sure sure works well, and is one of my favorite natural sleep aids!
• Take ½ teaspoon 1 hour before desired bedtime (though I’m sure you’ll be asleep much sooner!)
These are just a few of the herbs that can be utilized for deeper, more restful sleep. Also keep in mind that diet and exercise play a huge role in the quality of your sleep…and let us not forget the amount of caffeine you may be consuming or when you are consuming it.
Have you used any natural sleep aides like valerian, poppy, or lavender? Please share in the comments below!
For more sleep related articles look below:
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