In honor of National Sleep Awareness Week, we are featuring 5 great herbs that can improve insomnia or restless sleep. These all-natural remedies will have you relaxed and dreaming in no time! Like many herbs, you may notice an immediate effect, but it tends to increase over time, so make a nightly cup of tea a pre-bed ritual.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Chamomile, a member of the daisy family, is native to Europe and western Asia. German chamomile is the most commonly used. Chamomile is well known as a gentle, calming herb. Since it also helps ease an upset stomach it is a particularly good choice for younger children whose insomnia may be related to gastrointestinal upset. Chamomile is generally safe, but a low percentage of people, often those who are sensitive to ragweed, are sensitive to chamomile and develop allergic reactions. In contrast to pharmaceutical sleep aids, which people may need to keep taking more of to feel the same effects, chamomile seems to work better the more it’s used.
Hops (Humulus lupulus)
Beer lovers are familiar with this uniquely flavored herb; it’s commonly used while brewing beer, especially IPAs and other hoppy styles. But did you know it also makes amazing natural medicine? Hops is used for insomnia, anxiety, and digestion. Hops has been used in Arab, Indian Ayurvedic, and North American Indian medicine traditions for it’s sedative, anti-anxiety, and hypnotic properties. Non-alcoholic beer has been shown to improve sleep, which shows that the hops in beer can have a medicinal effect separate from the sedative effects of alcohol. Hops can be even more effective when paired with our next herb, valerian.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Valerian has a long history of use for sleep problems. One great quality of valerian is that is does not cause a morning hangover effect. 29 clinical studies of valerian all showed that valerican is significantly more effective than placebo for improving sleep disturbances.
Lavender (Lavandula officinalis)
Lavender is widely loved for its relaxing, soothing abilities. Many people use lavender essential oil, but it is also lovely in tea, especially combined with chamomile. The internal use of lavender flower is currently approved by the German Commission E for restlessness or insomnia, nervous stomach irritations, and nervous intestinal discomfort, so lavender, like chamomile, is great for soothing a nervous stomach. Lavender essential oil is calming in a warm bath, and can be used in sachets to make sleep pillows, which you can keep next to your bed to smell before falling asleep or if you wake up in the night.
California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
California poppy can reduce anxiety, lower stress, and help treat insomnia. Like the other herbs listed above, it can be consumed in a tincture or tea or capsule form.
Look out for our next post about totally free ways to improve your sleep!