Treatment of most sleep disorders often involves the use of herbal sleep remedies and changing every day habits in order to sleep better at night. The human body can be deprived of sleep and cope with it for a long time, and symptoms of lack of sleep may show after months or even years of chronic sleep deprivation. Sleep disorders are usually associated to depression and anxiety, therefore, herbal remedies for these emotional disorders help treating sleep disorders, too. The effect and duration of treatment with herbal sleep remedies depends on the type of sleep disorder: if its a mild sleep disorder, chamomile may be sufficient to fall asleep even if it is taken occasionally, but if the sleep disorder is chronic, then the use of valerian through a longer period of time (on a regular basis) will be more effective. Most popular herbal sleep remedies along with chamomile and valerian include:
- lemon balm,
- passion flower,
- California poppy and white willow.
Chamomile has been used throughout the ages as herbal sleep remedy for mild insomnia. It can be found in form of dried leaves and flowers packaged as tea and purchased over the counter. Some people even put a sachet of chamomile underneath their pillow. Chamomile contains a chemical a flavonoid component called chrysin which helps against anxiety and sleeplessness. Most herbal sleep remedies have to be used on a regular basis, but chamomile has the power to help against sleeplessness quickly and relief nervousness or anxiety. It is most effective if you drink it approximately half an hour before going to bed.
One serving of chamomile tea is made by boiling water in a saucepan, adding one teaspoon of dried chamomile directly to hot water (or using a tea infuser) and letting the leaves and flowers steep for a minute. The flowers are then removed with a strainer.
Tip: For a sedative effect, combine chamomile flowers with lemon balm leaves (Melissa officinalis).
Lavender can be taken as herbal sleep remedy in different forms: as brewed tea and essential oil distilled from the leaves, flowers and stems of the plant. Lavender oil helps to relax the muscles and inhaling its aroma may have a calming effect similar to that of a tranquilizer. Rubbing the oil on the feet is also very effective, adding it to warm bathwater or dabbing it on a tissue and breathing in. In case of headache, rubbing the lavender essential oil on the temples may ease the pain. Lavender in a sachet is often put underneath the pillow for better rest during sleep. You can make your own homemade lavender sachet using lavender leaves, flowers and stem, lavender essential oil and handkerchief.
If you use it externally, lavender may cause an allergic reaction (allergic contact dermatitis) so do a spot test before full application. Also, be careful when choosing lavender to promote sleep because not all varieties have the same effects; for example, Spanish lavender will probably make you alert and wake. Also, people suffering from gastritis should avoid lavender and mint!
One serving of lavender tea is made by putting 1 teaspoon of fresh lavender flowers (or half a teaspoon of dried flowers) in a saucepan or teapot and covering them with previously boiled water. Steep 3-5 minutes. Remove the flowers with a strainer.
Tip:If you want to make lavender mint tea, add 2 tablespoons of fresh mint leaves or 2 teaspoons of dried mint to lavender flowers. Also, you can use other herbal remedies in combination: rosemary, lemon balm, rose geranium.
You may also want to try out the English lavender water recipe to get the most of lavender sway and calming qualities including the soft-soap aromatic effect on your laundry – lavander odour of your bedding can help you sleep better!
VALERIAN (Valeriana officinalis)
Valerian, also known as Bloody Butcher, is a herbal sleep remedy made of dried roots and rhizomes of the plant. It has to be taken on a regular basis over a longer period of time (one month) to produce positive effects such as deep relaxation and sleep. It is a very useful aid for insomnia and general sleep disorders, but especially for sleep disorders associated to depression (valerian has been used as herbal remedy for depression for centuries). A research implemented in Switzerland showed that a 450 g dose of valerian in an aqueous extract is an optimum dose higher doses are not more efficient and often result in grogginess. Valerian may be a better option than sleeping drugs because it is non-toxic, you can drive normally during therapy and it doesnt have negative effects when combined with alcohol (assuming youre not having drinking problems).
If you suffer from metabolic issues, use fresh valerian root extract instead of dried valerian to reduce the possibility of surging energy several hours after intake.
Other herbal sleep remedies:
- When used properly, kava (Piper methysticum) is very powerful against anxiety and it promotes deep, relaxing sleep. A dose of a 150 kavalactones should be taken half an hour before going to bed.
- Lemon balm is also recommended as herbal sleep remedy. It works against depression and it has the properties of a mild sedative.
- Passion flower has been used (among other things) as tranquilizer; it has a profound effect on the central nervous system and it acts as an anti-spasmodic on smooth muscles in the human body including digestion. The healing effect is similar to that produced by valerian, but not as powerful. It is harmless and non-addictive so children and elderly people might use it, too. Tea is prepared by putting one teaspoon in a saucepan and pouring hot water over the dried herb and steeping 15 minutes long.
- California poppy is intended for those people who have no trouble falling asleep, but who frequently wake up during the night due to nervousness, spasms and restlessness.
- White willow (salix alba) is most efficient in form of tincture and its intended for people who have trouble sleeping due to physical discomfort and pain.
Pregnant and nursing women should not use these herbal sleep remedies on a regular basis without first consulting a health care provider.
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