Many would agree that today’s world is more stressful than that of our ancestors. This is why the sleep aid industry has experienced a huge upsurge in business. But, as many of us turn to more natural ways of getting our bodies back in sync, we wish to avoid many of the downsides of these man-made drugs and preparations. The side-effects are sometimes worse than taking the drugs, which is one of the reasons natural herbs are experiencing a resurgence in popularity.
It’s crucial to remember that just because herbs are natural, this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re entirely safe. Some herbs can interact with prescription drugs, and they can be dangerous when used in conjunction with sedatives, antidepressants, or alcohol. So, before trying any herbal remedies, you should always do your research, and speak with your doctor if you have any doubt.
There are many herbs for insomnia that provide natural ways to help to reduce anxiety, relax your body, and normalize your body’s internal clock and sleep-wake schedule. Here are ten natural sleeping herbs to consider in helping you fall asleep.
Valerian is one of the most common herbs for sleep that is given to people who have sleep problems, as it helps with various sleep disorders. It comes from the Valerian root, and is often available as a mixture of Valerian, Chamomile, Lemon Balm, and other herbs that help you sleep. In addition to insomnia, Valerian can help with anxiety, stress, headaches, and hypochondria.
In the U.S. and Europe, Valerian root is a commonly used herbal supplement to promote sleep. A literature review showed 300 to 900 mg of valerian might enhance self-rated sleep quality, when taken right before bedtime.
If you have ever looked at the sleeping aid section of your local drug store, you may have noticed Melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that occurs naturally in your brain, which helps with the sleep-wake cycle. If you don’t produce enough melatonin, you can take a supplement to help you sleep. Not only does it help with sleeplessness, but your quality of sleep will also be improved.
Research shows melatonin improves daytime sleep duration and daytime sleep quality. This is especially beneficial for people with schedules that force them to sleep in the daytime, like with shift workers.
Chamomile is another popular herb to take for helping you sleep. It doesn’t affect chemicals in your brain to help you sleep, but it helps to relax you, relieve anxiety, and reduce mental stress. This provides you with a more calming disposition, and can help you relax enough to lie down and sleep when you‘re too excited to sleep. There have been several studies showing the excellent benefits of chamomile for sleep, and this time-honored herb can be used safely by people of all ages.
Chamomile tea has been commonly used in Mexico, South America, and Europe with no ill effects, and the essential oil can be dropped into your bathwater to help soothe your nerves. It’s also commonly used as an inhalant, or massage oil.
For centuries, chamomile tea has been used to promote relaxation, but it's really a folk remedy. One review, however, did find it acts like a mild sedative, and helped to reduce anxiety, calm the nerves, and ease insomnia.
Passion Flower is an herb that has a mild sedative power, and can also reduce anxiety and stress that might be increasing your insomnia. It has been used for hundreds of years to help people sleep and calm their mind. People with anxiety, panic attacks, and various disorders take passion flower as a natural remedy for sleep.
The passionflower species associated with improvements in sleep are native to North America. They are also presently cultivated in Asia, Europe, Australia, and Africa. The sleep-promoting effects of passionflower have been shown in animal studies. But, how it affects humans seems to depend on which form is consumed.
Lemon Balm is another herb that has been used for many years. Its existence as a natural remedy dates back to the middle ages. Lemon Balm has a citrus smell, and is available in a supplement or a tea. It has a natural relaxing effect on your body and mind, as well as improving cognitive performance.
In one study in 2006, researchers found 70% to 80% of children experienced an improvement in sleep symptoms when taken a combined dose. Both parents and researchers believed lemon balm to be a good treatment.
The large orange and red flowers native to California are not just beautiful; they can also help you sleep. It can help provide mental calmness, decrease anxiety and restlessness, and help you get a good night’s sleep. It is most often used as a tincture, where you take 30-40 drops of it before bed each night.
If you are struggling with chronic insomnia, speak to your doctor about using natural sleep remedies such as this.
The California poppy is known for its sedative effects in folk medicine. Research shows it has potential for replacing certain commonly used antidepressants and synthetic sleep aids. The suggested dose is two 300 mg capsules of the dry plant material before sleep.
Most commonly known as a flavoring in beer, Hops have long been used for remedying restlessness, nervousness, and sleeplessness, and Hops-filled pillows are often used by insomniacs.
A few scientific studies show hops may have sedative effects. One study, for instance, in the journal PLOS, evaluated what effects a person would have by drinking non-alcoholic beer with hops during dinner. Women who did drink it showed sleep quality improvements and lower anxiety levels, according to researchers.
Lavender oil can be inhaled to help combat insomnia. In addition, the oil of this strengthening nervous system tonic can be added into a before-bedtime bath, or used as a massage oil when added into a carrier oil.
Research examining how effective lavender odor is on sleep quality showed it improved sleep quality mean scores in 15 healthy individuals in 34 midlife women with insomnia, and in 64 ischemic heart disease patients.
If you're searching for a healthy sleep aid that comes in pill form but don't want to take a sedative or even melatonin, you might want to consider magnolia bark. It's typically suggested you start at a low dose. It's an effective herb that helps promote sleep, and is even advised against taking it during the day or while driving because it's so effective. It's said to induce drowsiness, and help with deep REM sleep.
Eighty-nine menopausal women participated in a 24-week study. Each experienced symptoms of mood and sleep alterations. They were each given a 60 mg magnolia bark extract supplement and 50 mg of magnesium daily. They each experienced substantial improvements in anxiety, mood, sleep, irritability, and more.
St. John’s Wort
A commonly-found European herb, many people use St. John’s Wort to alleviate mild depression, as well as for treating chronic insomnia. It must be noted, however, that the herb can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun, so you need to be careful when taking the herb that you don’t expose your skin to direct sunlight.
Research does suggest St. John's Wort has therapeutic potential in managing sleep-deprivation induced anxiety in mice.
Ways to Take Herbs for Sleep
There are herbal supplements in capsule form. Read the proper dosage, but typically it's one or two capsules before bedtime.
Herbal linen sprays:
Spray an herbal mix on your pillow or bed linens to provide your whole bed with a relaxing scent. A lavender pillow spray would be nice.
Tuck a hops or lavender sachet under your pillow at night to help you benefit from the sleep-inducing properties of the herbs as you rest your head.
Brew an herbal tea (perhaps lemon balm) and have a nice hot cup of tea around a half hour before you go to bed, without screens though. Maybe read a nice book.
Essential oil rub:
Rub your feet with a relaxing essential oil rub. Lavender is a great scent. It will help calm your body and relax your muscles.
Tinctures are a great way of taking your sleeping herb. You would just place a drop or two under your tongue before bedtime.
Add to bath:
Add several drops of essential oils into your hot bath, and soak your muscles for a minimum of 30 minutes. You can also make an herbal tea to sip on while you're relaxing in your bath.
When you can’t get a good night’s sleep, it impacts so many areas of your life. There are no guaranteed natural cures for insomnia; however, by trying some of the natural herbs above you might just find one that works for you.
If you find yourself waking frequently in the night, you can also try the following:
- Establish regular bedtime rituals. Ensure you fall asleep around the same time every night, and that you are relaxed and ready before you retire to your bedroom. Check your mattress and pillows. By making sure your latex mattress and organic pillows are comfortable, you set a solid foundation to have good sleep.
- Eliminate alcohol and caffeine. If you’re having trouble sleeping, it’s a good idea to stop drinking alcohol and caffeine too near to bedtime, as these increase the likelihood of sleep disturbances like nighttime urination.
- Stop using your laptop or phone before bed, and stop watching television in bed. Using these types of electronic devices before bedtime can lower your Melatonin levels, and shorten your REM sleep cycles, thus providing you with an unsatisfying night’s sleep.
- If you’re finding sleeping difficult, don’t just lie there tossing and turning. Get up, and try reading or doing some light stretching. These tips, along with trying out some natural herbs for sleeping, will help you get back on top of your insomnia.
FAQ on Herbs for Sleep
What is the strongest herbal sedative?
There are certain herbs that could produce effective mild tranquilizer effects such as lavender, borage, Melissa officinalis (lemon balm), valerian, Humulus upulus, hypericum, and passion flower.
Can you drink alcohol while taking herbs?
When using over-the-counter herb supplements, it's best to use caution if you combine them with alcohol, particularly those supplements that cause drowsiness. Be sure to review the bottle label, and speak with your doctor or pharmacist before mixing alcohol with any herbal supplement.
What are natural sleep aids?
There aren't any regulations or rules governing the use of the term "natural" for herbal sleep products. Sometimes, "natural" will refer to a substance that comes from plants. Other times, it's used for describing synthetically-lab-created substances, but are found in your body (i.e. melatonin), in plants, or in foods (like tryptophan).
Do natural sleep aids produce side effects?
Natural sleep herbs can cause side effects, including severe side effects. Always use herbs with caution, and speak with your doctor before using. Just because an herbal product says "natural" on the label, doesn't mean it can't be harmful.
Are herbs safe?
Herbs are typically thought to have efficacy and safety. So, individuals are turning to herbal medicine more and more because they believe plant remedies are completely free of unwanted side effects. But, medicinal plants can still be toxic naturally all by itself or when you combine it with other preparations.
Can you mix herbs with medication?
All herbs have the potential of causing problems when you combine them with certain medications, including commonly used herbs like turmeric and green tea. This is why if you take conventional medications, it's imperative you let your doctor know if you take or plan on taking herbal medications.
Can I improve my insomnia naturally?
Along with certain herbs for sleep problems, you can try these natural tips to help with your insomnia:
- Limit naps
- Wake up each day at the same time
- Exercise regularly
- Eliminate the use of alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine
- Make your sleep atmosphere comfortable
- Limit activities in bed
- don't drink or eat right before you go to bed
What can I drink for my insomnia?
What you drink before you go to bed could help you enjoy a more restorative, peaceful sleep. Some suggestions that may help enhance your sleep are Chamomile tea, valerian tea, decaffeinated green tea, and herbal tea with lemon balm.
What herb is good for sleep apnea?
It's been shown chamomile may be good to substantially enhance sleep quality, and it makes a nice cup of tea. Another herb, valerian, has been used for treating sleep disorders like sleep apnea, but studies are inconclusive.
What is herbal medicine?
Herbal medicine is one form of dietary supplement. You'll find herbal medicine sold as powders, capsules, extracts, dried or fresh plants, tablets, and teas. Individuals use herbal medicine to try and improve or maintain their health.
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