Sleep is easily the most forgotten physiological activity ever. However, it’s as important to life as breathing. And its importance goes way beyond just enhancing your mood or removing your dark circles. Adequate sleep is an indispensable part of a healthy lifestyle. Without adequate sleep, the body fails to function.
Importance of Deep Sleep
As you sleep, your body grows muscles, synthesizes hormones, processes information and rejuvenates itself. Sometimes, sleep tends to evade us for a couple of nights at a row. It’s then that you know you have insomnia – a long-term disorder that is marked by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or both.
Chronic insomnia doesn’t just affect the quality of sleep; it also spurs a slew of health complications such as anxiety, depression, diabetes, obesity, heart ailments and muscle pain to name a few. And while prescription drugs are a surefire cure, they are often highly addictive and confer harmful side effects on the user.
So what’s the solution then? Herbal remedies. Yes, that’s right. Herbs have greater efficacy in restoring balance to the body and allowing the body to relax, heal and sleep.
If you have persistent problems drifting off every night, the following herbs for sleep can help you attain a Zen-like state of calmness so that you can rest well
1 – Valerian
Valerian is a lovely flowering plant with sweet-scented white or pink blooms. The root of this herb has been used for eons as a sleep aid and calming agent. According to several other studies, Valerian helps to reduce the time it takes for a person to fall asleep and even helps increase the quality and duration of sleep.
Valerian is available in both capsule form and tincture form. If you’re using capsules, consider taking four an hour before going to bed. The impact will typically last for 4 hours. If you end up waking in the middle of the night and feel difficulty falling asleep again, take another four pills.
Also, since your body can get accustomed to this herb, ensure to take just Valerian for three or four weeks before swapping to another herbal remedy for a few weeks and then go back to using Valerian again.
2 – Passionflower
Native to America and Europe, passionflower is an elegant climbing vine with powerful medicinal properties. Besides being a remarkably beautiful plant, passionflower has earned a reputation as a valuable herb for calming the mind, curbing hot flashes and minimizing episodes of depression. As a herbal remedy, it has been used traditionally to slow down mental activity and reduce mental stress. Passionflower works amazingly for people who tend to wake up frequently throughout the night. It is also safe for children and those with serious health issues.
You are advised to take it to great doses and for prolonged periods of time. Consider trying 30-50 drops of a tincture of chamomile before bed. And if it’s not enough, you can even take that dose around 3-4 times a day.
3 – Lemon Balm
Since ages lemon balm has been used as a sleep relaxant in European folk medicine. This incredibly beneficial herb has a refreshing citrus scent that instantly calms your mind and encourages restful sleep. A study carried out in the year 2003 found that lemon balm promotes sleep indirectly by elevating mood and reducing mental anxiety. Additionally, it is also a nootropic, or in other words, a brain supplement that improves cognitive performance.
Lemon balm supplementation is known to benefit both active children and sleep-deprived parents alike. A recent placebo-controlled trial revealed that menopausal females suffering from sporadic sleep episodes experience increased calmness and rest upon taking a combination of Valerian and lemon balm extract.
You can take it as a supplement after your meal or mix it with tea just before going to bed. Alternatively, you can rub it on your pillow to relax you as soon as you lie down on it.
4 – Chamomile
Native to several continents like Asia, America, and Europe, Chamomile is a daisy-like plant that is often used in herb concoctions to calm the mind and cure stomach upsets. It is often used to prepare mildly flavored tea called chamomile tea, or more popularly “sleep tea.” As you can see, this herb is routinely recommended by scientists to relieve insomnia, as well as stimulate a normal sleep cycle and general well being.
Phytochemicals like Chrysin in chamomile bind to GABA receptors in the brain and thus mimic the effect of GABA, a neurotransmitter that eases the nerves and relieves anxiety. As a result, it reduces brain activity and has a sedative effect on the central nervous system. A study conducted by University of Pennsylvania scientists revealed that chamomile dramatically reduces the symptoms of anxiety disorder. So stock up on this amazing herb if you haven’t already!
5 California poppy
Native to the U.S and Mexico, California poppy is a pretty little ornamental plant with potent health benefits. California poppy plants bear bright yellow, orange and red blossoms that thrive in arid conditions. Historically used for conditions such as headaches, sores, and toothaches, this cheery little plant has gained popularity for being a strong sedative as well. It can ease insomnia (even the chronic type) that results from anxiety and restlessness; moreover, it’s safe to use on children aged above 7.
You can take in together with Valerian extracts for best results. Experts recommend using a tincture of California poppy twice a day for better relaxation.
As with other natural treatments, it’s always sensible to consult with a licensed herbalist or alternative health practitioner who can give you better guidance on how to choose the right kind of herbs for sleep, and take it in the right dosage so as to experience desirable results.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you’re on sleeping pills, you will find that the herbs won’t work as well for you right away. This is because your body has become dependent on the chemicals present in sleeping pills and it will take some time before it can withdraw completely. So try to lower your usage of sleeping pills slowly and have patience. You may even experience a period when nothing seems to work. Just keep trying, and soon you will heal and sleep restfully.