Better living through nature
More than a third of our population has trouble falling asleep at night. Sleep is the body’s natural way of restoring itself, and sleep deprivation can lead to a host of health problems, from headaches and fatigue to depression and a weakened immune system. If you’re struggling with insomnia or just having trouble falling asleep, check out these herbal sleep aids. Safe and natural, these natural sedatives will help you get a good night’s rest.
California poppy: The California poppy contains protopine, which has similar (but much milder effects) as morphine, making it a good natural sedative. Although it is a relative of the Opium Poppy, it is not an opiate, so using it won’t cause dependence problems. Steep two grams of this herb in boiling water to make a relaxing tea.
California poppies make a relaxing herbal tea that can help you fall asleep. Photo By PYHOOYA/Courtesy Flickr.
Chamomile: This plant is a well-known herbal sleep aid. A cup of chamomile tea before bed will help you relax and fall asleep faster. Steep a heaping tablespoon of this herb in boiling water; cover the tea as it steeps so as not to lose the calming essential oils.
Hops: Although this natural sedative is used to make beer, drinking a glass full of beer before bed does not have the same effect as drinking a tea made from hops. Alcohol will lull you into a restless sleep from which you will wake several hours later, but hops will ease you into a deep, restful sleep. Hops work well on their own, but paired with chamomile and lavender they make a lovely herbal sachet.
Lavender: Lavender relaxes the nervous system, helping you to fall asleep faster. Stuff an herbal sachet with the leaves of this plant, take a few drops of lavender tincture or place a few drops of lavender essential oil into a cup of boiling water and inhale.
The exotic passionflower can calm your nerves and ease you into sleep—just make sure you're using the right kind! Photo By Eileen McFall/Courtesy Flickr.
Passionflower: This fast-growing vine contains tranquilizing compounds that can ease anxiety and help you sleep—but won’t cause drowsiness in the morning. Many varieties of the passionflower exist, but not all are suitable for medical uses. Be sure that you’re taking only Passiflora incarnate, as other variations can be dangerous. Steep one teaspoon of leaves in a cup of boiling water for a soothing tea.
Valerian: This plant is a potent sedative and effective pain killer. In a Swedish study of valerian’s tranquilizing effects, almost 90 percent of insomniacs said that this herb helped them sleep. Valerian can make you feel groggy the next morning, so use with caution. Use valerian root to make a tea, or take 600 milligrams before bed.
What herbal sleep aids do you take?
Susan Melgren is the Web Editor of Mother Earth Living. Find her on Google+.