Herbs for a Better Night’s Sleep
Today it is rather common to have difficulty falling or staying asleep. Our world focuses on perfectionism and obtaining quick results. We drive ourselves crazy trying to ‘be enough’ at work and for our families. We worry our minds and sacrifice taking proper care of ourselves in the process. This might work for a little while, but eventually we burn out.
One of the very best ways to show ourselves some love is to get adequate sleep. For many people that is more challenging than simply going to bed on time. Difficulty sleeping is most often due to fried nerves or an overactive mind. Our bodies and brains need time to wind down, relax, and be put in the right mood for sleep.
To prepare our bodies and minds for rest we can turn to sleep promoting herbs for help. Many of the herbs listed below have been used as sleep aids for centuries, if not for thousands of years. When taken consistently, these herbs will promote a calmer mind, relaxation in the body, and a good night’s sleep. (If you think an herb isn’t going to work for you, check out this post from Healing Harvest Homestead. It gives great insight into the way herbs work.)
Sleep Promoting Herbs
We are all familiar with the sleep promoting herb Lavender, yet, there are many others that can naturally encourage you to wind down at the end of the day, and promote a healthy nervous system. Are any of them familiar to you?
A member of the mint family, Skullcap is found in wooded areas throughout North America. It is rather particular about soil conditions, requiring moist, rich, and acidic earth. Skullcap contains compounds that soothe the parts of the brain responsible for regulating anxiety. It is thought that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of skullcap calm the nervous system. Skullcap can be made into capsules, tincture, or tea.
A sweet apple aroma is produced when the daisy-like flowers of chamomile are gently brushed. Chamomile is a spreading perennial that can be found throughout Europe and North America. The two most popular species grown in gardens today are English (or Roman) and German chamomile.
Chamomile has a host of benefits that primarily revolve around calming and soothing irritated systems of the body. Specifically called upon for digestive upset and skin conditions, chamomile also makes a soothing sleepy-time tea to calm the mind and set the body up for relaxation.
Make chamomile into a tincture, tea, or capsules. Chamomile can also be infused in oil for topical use. Definitely one of my favorites to include in the garden.
A beautiful flowering plant with clusters of white or pink blooms atop stems adorned with lanced leaves, Valerian may be the most popular plant for inducing sleep. Valerian is native to Europe, and is now found naturalized in North America. Valerian root is where the natural sedative compounds lie. Like Skullcap, these compounds take action on the part of the brain that regulates anxiety—which is likely the root of the problem for insomnia sufferers.
Make valerian into a tea, capsule, extract, or tincture. It will likely be more effective when combined with other calming herbs like lemon balm, hops, or passionflower.
A spectacle observed in person, Passionflower has flower heads reaching three inches across. Passionflower has a variety of different benefits, and has been used for centuries to encourage sleep. Passionflower contains enzymes that relax an overactive brain while soothing the nervous system.
Take Passionflower as a tea, tincture, or in capsule form. Combining it with lemon balm or hops will increase it’s sleep promoting effect.
The plant material used to give beer its flavor and aroma was also used by Native Americans to help with insomnia. Hops is the fruit of a vining plant native to Europe, Asia, and North America. Hops, with many benefits for discomfort, pain, and digestion is often combined with Valerian to aid in nervousness and insomnia. Whether taken as a tea, capsule, or tincture, hops is sure to add a bit of relaxation to your life.
Lemon Balm is one of the cheeriest plants in my garden, and one of the oldest plants utilized for restlessness and anxiety. A member of the mint family, Lemon Balm has light, fuzzy leaves that give off an aroma of sunny lemons. It’s no wonder bees are so fond of this plant, too.
For thousands of years Lemon Balm has been used to gladden the heart and aid in achieving a good night’s sleep. Take it as a tea, tincture, or extract to calm the mind and promote relaxation. It goes well with other calming herbs.
Hawthorn is a great herb to strengthen the heart and to regulate it’s rhythm. Because it affects the heart in this way, it may indirectly help with developing positive sleep habits. In addition, nervous energy often sits in the chest. Hawthorn can benefit those that struggle with nervous energy by lowering blood pressure levels that add to the tightness and tension in the chest, therefore making it easier to rest.
Hawthorn prescribed as a sleep aid came as a surprise to me. I’ve always known Hawthorn to be the ‘heart herb.’ Hawthorn is a tree or shrub with many different species. Birds love hawthorn’s red fruits.
Make hawthorn into a tasty tea, tincture, syrup or extract for optimal heart and well-being.
The power of getting adequate sleep can reshape how we look at our lives, our situations, and everyday challenges that pop up. A lack of concentration, mood swings, and illnesses will be the result of not getting enough sleep. If you struggle with sleepless nights, looking to these herbs for help can get you back on track. Find a way to incorporate them into your day to day life. Rely on sleep promoting herbs consistently, and they will tone and soothe the systems of the body that are overworked and frazzled in today’s world.
What is your go-to remedy for sleepless nights?