For millennia, humans have relied on natural remedies for relaxation and pain relief. Here’s a roundup of some of the best bedtime herbs
Sleep is a must for all of us, but that doesn’t mean it comes easy. And whether we get what we need or not, we’ve got to go on functioning in everyday life. There are plenty of sleeping pills out there that can help us with that, but they also come with side effects that many of us would rather do without.
If slumber is desired without the artificial or pricey alternatives, then it’s time to look into the power of plants. Herbs have been used for centuries for their medicinal and healing benefits, and their extracts and compounds even have a place in scientific research and pharmaceutical drugs. Whatever your challenge with sleep may be, herbs just may be able to address it.
If you’re struggling with getting tired or staying asleep, then try a sedative from Mother Nature. Valerian is popular among insomniacs thanks to its potential with inducing a more restful sleep, and it can be used as a tincture, capsule, or a lovely cup of bedtime tea.
Hops is another sedative herb, and valerian can be combined with hops extract for greater sleep benefits. They’re both reputed to be mild and safe, and they’re sometimes able to be used in conjunction with other sleep remedies. Both hops and valerian can pair well with melatonin (the famous sleep hormone carried by stores everywhere) so those with long and restless nights can come up with a serious plan of action.
With just a little of nature’s sedatives and doc’s okay, you can have a faster, longer, and more restful snooze without the drowsiness or side effects of prescriptions.
Stress & Anxiety
Anxiety can keep us lying awake in bed no matter how many sheep we count. If stress has you lost in thought during the wee hours, then you may want ashwagandha or passionflower to promote relaxation. Ashwagandha is an herb that’s wildly popular in the ancient Ayurvedic tradition of Indian medicine. It’s an adaptogen that’s able to help regulate hormones thrown out of whack by anxiety, bringing our bodies to a more balanced and relaxed state.
Passionflower doesn’t have the same impressive track record as ashwagandha, but it has shown it’s worth considering as an aid for sleep and anxiety. Thanks to passionflower increasing the production of brain chemical GABA (gama aminobutyric acid), a cup of tea may offer the calm and relaxation needed to catch those z’s. So keep a tin of passionflower tea next to your pack of chamomile.
While you’re getting into herbal relaxation, be sure to consider the calming herbs of aromatherapy. The essential oils of certain herbs can work wonders when it comes to de-stressing. And all it takes is a whiff! Because of the relationship between essential oils and the olfactory system, a single inhale can have powerful and immediate effects on our mood. Essential oils of lavender and roman chamomile are popular for their calming properties, but less flowery options like marjoram, cedarwood, and bergamot offer sleepy sniffing too.
Pain & Tension
Does pain keep you from snoozing through the night? If so, then essential oils are even more worthy of space in that medicine cabinet. Fennel, rosemary, and peppermint are antispasmodics that do a great job of relaxing tense, sore, and restless muscles.
Pain-relieving analgesic essential oils like lavender and sweet marjoram also offer sweet-smelling tranquility for body aches. And if you’re dealing with the pains of inflammation from diseases like arthritis, fibromyalgia, and lupus, then anti-inflammatory essential oils can help ease you into slumber by easing swelling and pain.
Lemon, frankincense, tea tree oil, lemongrass, lavender, and peppermint all offer fragrant bedtime support. They can certainly be used in tea form, but essential oils are highly concentrated and offer speedy relief through topical application.
Simply apply essential oils to the soles of your feet, or combine them with a carrier oil like jojoba, sweet almond, or coconut for a soothing massage oil that can be rubbed into your achy joints and irritated muscles. You’ll be amazed by how quickly quality essential oils can soothe your complaints.
Plenty of options are available for all those bedtime needs. So, before you pick up yet another pill bottle, chat with your healthcare provider about these popular herbal remedies. They’re all available in the form of a tincture, powder, capsule, tea, or essential oil (sometimes even all five!), and many of them can be purchased for next to nothing. Get doc’s okay and see what happens.
Have you used herbs for your sleep troubles? Tell us all about it in the comments below!
About the author
Ash Stevens is a mother, writer, and a wannabe shaman. She loves health, gardening, simplicity, culture, chocolate, and sarcasm. If she isn’t writing or talking family and relationships on her blog, then she’s surely playing badminton with the kids. Find her on Twitter or Facebook and make a new friend!