More and more people are learning how to beat insomnia by finding natural herbal sleep remedies for those occasional restless nights. We’ve all been there, the stress of the day, minor aches and pains, or thoughts we just can’t get out of our heads. No matter how many sheep we count or how many happy places we go to, we just can’t sleep.
The body has a natural rhythm known as the circadian rhythm. This rhythm ensures we are able to sleep. Sleep is the only time during which our bodies can properly carry on repair and maintenance. When I was young, I thought I didn’t need as much sleep as everyone else. As I got older, I realized how necessary sleep is for health and well-being, and that I was costing myself by not getting enough sleep. A minimum of eight hours is ideal. I know some people who say, “I don’t need eight hours I only need seven. I do just fine.” Maybe so, for now, but it’s scientifically proven how, over an eight-hour period of sleep, the body is allowed to fully perform its many necessary tasks for repair and maintenance.
In our American society, sleeplessness seems to be at an epidemic level. Have you ever watched a commercial for a prescription sleep aid? Scary, huh? No wonder so many people are looking for herbal sleep remedies. You see them in every drugstore and in every drug aisle in the grocery stores. From melatonin tablets to teas designed to help you sleep.
While there is a long healing herbs list for sleepless nights, I have six favorites. These are tried and true herbal sleep remedies I have used for myself and my family. It is necessary for me to say I am not a doctor, nor am I prescribing anything for your health. Your health and that of your family is your responsibility alone. It’s sad I have to say this and can’t just share with you the information I have, but it is what it is. So I am sharing with you what I use and what works for us.
You’ll notice in my favorites, lavender is an essential herb to me. From teas to bath salts it is by far my favorite ingredient for rest and relaxation. It is as beautiful and fragrant in the herb garden as the rosemary plant, another of my favorites.
I use organic lavender flowers. I like a stronger flavored tea so I use 2 teaspoons of lavender flowers to a 6 to 8-ounce cup of boiling water. Use 1 teaspoon lavender flowers for a weaker tasting tea. Place the lavender flowers in the infuser of your choice and put it in your cup. Pour boiling water into the cup and cover it. Let it steep for 6 minutes. Remove the strainer ball and add the sweetener of your choice. I don’t like a very sweet tea so I only add one-half teaspoon of organic honey.
I like to turn on soft, relaxing music and sip my tea about 10 minutes before going to bed. It’s important to not watch TV, be on your computer, your tablet or phone 30 minutes to an hour before bed. The blue light had been proven to be a stimulation which prevents the body from falling into its natural circadian rhythm.
Lavender oil can be used in several ways to create a calm and relaxed atmosphere in your bedroom.
You can sprinkle lavender oil over your sheets and pillowcases and allow to dry before lying down.
You can use a diffuser to fill the air with the calming scent of lavender oil.
You can also make your own spray. Combine 6 ounces of water, 2 tablespoons of witch hazel, and 25 to 35 drops of lavender oil. Shake well to combine and mist the air and your bedding. Allow to dry before lying down. Be sure you shake the bottle well before each use. I keep a bottle of this beside the bed and use it frequently as an herbal sleep remedy.
Epsom Salt Bath
Epsom salt is considered a necessary part of any natural home. It’s many benefits and uses, I believe, are yet to be fully known. As an herbal sleep remedy, I find it to be most beneficial.
Pour 1 cup Epsom salt into the warmest bathwater you can stand. Add 15 to 20 drops of lavender oil and 10 to 15 drops of rosemary oil. Now, climb in and relax being careful to take deep breaths to inhale the relaxing, calming, herbal stress relief from the scent of the oils.
If you have never smelled Valerian root, you will be shocked by its odor. To me, it smells like stinky feet. It can be taken in capsule form, added to tea, or crushed and added to warm milk. Granted, I’ve never been brave enough to try it in warm milk so I only have the word of friends who do this. I can’t stand the smell so I like to put it into a capsule and swallow it fast!
Chamomile is probably best known for its calming properties and is a great herbal sleep remedy. I like to mix chamomile flowers with lavender flowers for a brilliant, aromatic sleepy tea. For pure chamomile tea, place one teaspoon of chamomile tea into your tea ball and place it in a 6 to 8-ounce cup. Pour 6 to 8 ounces of boiling water over the strainer ball, cover and steep 4 to 5 minutes. Once steeped, you can add a sweetener of your choice. If I sweeten this tea, I usually only add one-half teaspoon raw, organic honey.
If you want to make my favorite, chamomile lavender tea, place three-fourths teaspoon chamomile and one teaspoon lavender in your infuser. I like a strong tea, but if you prefer a weaker tea use one-half teaspoon chamomile flowers and one-half teaspoon lavender flowers. Steep and sweeten as above.
Yes, it’s true! Warm milk does make us sleepy. The reason it does may be surprising. Warm milk, like turkey, contains an amino acid known as tryptophan. Yep, the stuff that makes you sleepy after a large Thanksgiving meal.
While tryptophan does induce sleepiness when ingested in large doses, it’s more than this which causes warm milk to help us rest. There’s a psychological factor. Whether consciously or unconsciously, milk is associated with a mother’s love and care. For many people, warm milk creates feelings of comfort and warm memories which causes the brain to produce serotonin. Serotonin is the chemical in our bodies which gives us a sense of well-being and relaxation allowing us to sleep.
There is also a physical response to a glass of warm milk. The warm milk warms the tummy which warms the body. When the body is warm the muscles relax and our systems slow down as they naturally do before sleep.
More Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep
To ensure a good night’s sleep, one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family is to have a bedtime routine. We are creatures of habit. By doing basically the same things every night before bed, you train your body to know, “when we do this, it’s time to sleep.”
Shut off all electronics an hour or at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
Take a short, slow-paced walk about an hour before bath and bedtime.
Remove all sources of ambient light from your bedroom. This includes alarm clocks, cell phones, nightlights, indicator lights on electronic equipment, anything that puts light into the room. If you need an alarm clock, turn it upside down where you can’t see the light, but it will still sound.
Turn off the wi-fi signals in your house while sleeping. Place your cell phone on the opposite side of the room if you choose to leave your wi-fi signals on. It is medically proven that wi-fi signals penetrate the body and disturb sleep patterns.
Read a book, a paper book, not on an electronic device.
Some people enjoy falling asleep while listening to relaxing music.
Do you have favorite herbal sleep remedies of your own? Share them with us in the comments below.
Sweet dreams and peaceful sleep on your safe and happy journey,
Rhonda and The Pack