I discovered the amazing benefits of medicinal herbs a few years ago and I’ve been using them regularly in my life ever since. Herbs are truly wonderful. They can help treat and heal so many issues and imbalances. Today, I’m sharing with you a few of my favourite herbs to promote a naturally restful sleep.
The moment our sleep pattern is disturbed, we become irritable, our brain gets foggy, we lack energy, we can’t focus or be productive, and it basically affects everything in our world. It has so much influence on our health and well-being. Making sure we get a good night sleep is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves.
I’ve been combining a few of these herbs and drinking them as a tea before going to bed for a while now. They come especially handy when I’m stressed, busy, or have a lot going on. I swear I can almost instantly feel their effect on my nervous system as I take the first few sips. They relax my body and my mind, helping me get the best sleep possible.
Here are some of my favourite sleep-promoting herbs.
1. Passion Flower
Latin name: Passiflora incarnata
Medicinal part: leaves
Passion flower is a herb of choice for treating insomnia, particularly for people who tend to wake up frequently in the middle of the night. The leaves contain alkaloids that have calming, sleep inducing, and muscle spasm relieving effects. It’s used in herbal medicine for a range of other ailments as well, including anxiety, asthma and high blood pressure.
2. Lemon Balm
Latin name: Melissa officinalis
Medicinal part: leaves
Lemon balm is probably my favourite of all the sleep-promoting herbs, because it has such a wonderful scent and flavour. Part of the mint family, it smells and taste both minty and lemony (similar to citronella). I love mixing it with other neutral-tasting herbs to give my blend a lovely flavour. It helps lower the stress response, improve sleep quality, reduce mild anxiety symptoms and act as a mood elevator. Lemon balm can also be used to relieve digestive discomfort.
Latin name: Valeriana officinalis
Medicinal part: root
Valerian root is one of the most common natural relaxants available. It’s very effective in the treatment of insomnia, but can also be used for migraines, pain, tension, restlessness, cramps, stress and anxiety. It’s especially effective when combined with other herbs. It combines well with Passion Flower and Hops as a sleep aid, and with Skullcap to relieve tension.
Latin name: Scutellaria laterifolia
Medicinal part: above the ground parts
Skullcap is also part of the mint family. It’s both a calming herb and a tonic for the central nervous system. It’s used to relieve tension and promote relaxation while at the same time revivifying the nervous system. It can be helpful for hypersensitive people who are easily affected by their environment. It can also help relieve pre-menstrual tensions and treat mild depression. Skullcap works particularly well when combined with Valerian.
Latin name: Humulus lupulus
Medicinal part: flowers
We all know that hops is used to brew beer, but did you know it was also a powerful medicinal herb? Hops can be an effective treatment for insomnia, as well as anxiety, irritability, and nervousness. It can also be used as an antiseptic. Hops should however be avoided in cases of depression, as it can accentuate the symptoms. It combines well with Valerian and Passion Flower for insomnia.
Other sleep-promoting herbs you might want to consider: Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis), California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), Catnip (Nepeta cataria) and Kava Kava (Piper methysticum).
Tips & how to use them:
- I recommend not taking medicinal herbs for long periods of time to make sure that the body doesn’t get used to it. You can take the same herbs for 5-6 weeks and then switch to different herbs. Or take them for 3-4 weeks, take a break for a week or two, and repeat.
- If you’re pregnant, taking any medication or suffer from specific health conditions, consult your doctor before adding any medicinal herbs to your routine. They can be quite powerful and can interact with some medications.
- There are many ways to consume medicinal herbs. You can buy them in the form of supplements or tinctures, but my favourite way to enjoy them (especially the sleep-promoting ones) is as a tea that I sip at night before going to bed. I find the ritual calming in itself. It puts me in a relaxing mode before I even rest my head on the pillow.
- I usually measure equal parts of 3 or 4 of these herbs and store them in a jar that I label “Night Blend”. It’s super convenient, I simply scoop it straight from the jar when I want to make my tea.
- To make an infusion: use 1 to 2 teaspoons of the dried herb of your choice (or a blend of a few of these herbs), and infuse in 1-2 cups of boiling water for 10-15 minutes before drinking.
- If you can grow your own herbs in a small garden or a balcony, I’d highly recommend it. I find that the herbs I grow myself are much more potent, fragrant and flavourful than any dried herb I can buy at the store. I simply harvest and dry them at the end of the season and store them for use throughout the year. Otherwise, you can find most of these dried herbs in health food stores, herbal stores, or online.
Remember, herbs can support you toward a better sleep, but many other factors also come into play. Adopting healthier habits is just as important. If sleep is an issue for you, limiting alcohol and caffeine, eating a healthy balanced diet, and avoiding screens at least an hour before bed can be very helpful.
Do you have any favourites herbs to help you sleep at night? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Seen in these photos: tea pot and cups from Camellia Sinensis