We all know that sleep is essential for our health and wellbeing. We feel more energetic, happier, and better able to function after a good sleep. Yet so many of us don’t get enough sleep: some people experience difficulty in getting to sleep, or they wake up frequently during the night with trouble falling back into sleep and thus feel tired throughout the day. They may also wake too early in the morning without the feeling to go back to sleep. Others suffer from depression or anxiety that can cause sleep disorders too. When the problems become chronic, we call it insomnia.
Sleep Problems can directly or indirectly affect physiological systems, such as brain and nervous system, cardiovascular system, metabolic functions and immune system.I’ve already written in the past about a natural substance to improve sleep disorders, but this time I would like to concentrate in the best herbs for insomnia.
The best herbs for insomnia:
1. German Chamomile
People have used chamomile tea for sleep for thousands of years. This herb contains certain flavonoids that can reduce anxiety and have calming effect, which helps to promote better sleep. You can use chamomile in an infusion (tea) or bath, or as a tincture, which is a concentrated extract mixed with alcohol. The FDA considers chamomile tea to be safe with usually no side effects.
Valerian root is used as a sedative and anti-anxiety treatment, and is a common ingredient in products promoted as mild sedatives and sleep aids for nervous tension and insomnia. It improves the quality of sleep and helps you fall asleep faster. Dried roots are prepared as teas or tinctures, and dried plant materials and extracts are put into capsules or incorporated into tablets. There is no scientific agreement as to the active ingredient of valerian, and its activity may result from interactions among several compounds rather than one compound. The recommendation is not to use it with other sleep aids. Start with the lowest dose, then increase over several days’ time. Valerian is considered safe to take for four to six weeks.
3. Kava Kava
This plant has been shown to help relieve anxiety, stress and related nervous disorders and produce a feeling of relaxation. The roots are chewed or ground into a pulp and added to cold water, resulting in a thick brew. There is serious concern that kava kava may cause liver damage, so before taking this herb, ask your doctor if it is safe for you.
Passionflower is a traditional sedative and relieves anxiety and is commonly used to treat insomnia.The chemicals in passionflower have calming, sleep inducing, and muscle spasm relieving effects. Some preliminary research suggests that drinking a passionflower tea an hour before bedtime might help improve feelings of sleep quality.
Oats contain melatonin which is a natural hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle, and complex carbohydrates that can help more tryptophan get into the brain to help you sleep. It also contains high levels of vitamin B6 and other minerals that help support proper nerve function. While you might think of oatmeal only as a breakfast food, it also is a smart choice for a bedtime snack.
Skullcap is commonly used for relaxation, and is a mild sedative that affects the central nervous system. It’s been traditionally used for the treatment of a wide range of nervous conditions – from trouble with sleep to relieve anxiety and stress and to improve quality and duration of sleep. Today skullcap generally appears as part of a mixture in calming tea or tincture blends.
7. Lemon Balm
Many people believe lemon balm has calming effects so they take it for anxiety, sleep problems, and restlessness. It was used as far back as the Middle Ages to reduce stress and anxiety and promote sleep. Several studies show that lemon balm combined with other calming herbs (such as valerian, hops, and chamomile) helps reduce anxiety and promote sleep.
8. St. John Wort
This herb appears to improve symptoms of mild depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances associated with them. This herbal treatment for depression will also treat insomnia by promoting a restful sleep as it balances sleep cycles. It is available in tablets, capsules, teas or tincture for your own choosing. It may take a few weeks until a full effect is noticed. This herb has been known to interfere with certain prescription medications, so it would be best to check with your doctor if this herbal remedy is safe to use with other drugs.
Hops are used in the brewing of beer and have been known for centuries to make you sleep deeper and relax you too. This is because they release a chemical which is known to have a sedative and relaxing effect. Put your hops into muslin sachets, add some lavender for an extra soothing and relaxing effect, and place your sachet beside your pillow.The hops will make you fall asleep and the lavender will relax and sedate you.
10. Wild Lettuce
Wild lettuce has a mild sedative effect on the body and is used to calm anxiety and to promote sleep. Wild lettuce has calming, relaxing, and pain relieving effects. Wild lettuce extract comes from the leaves, sap and seeds of Lactuca virosa, a wild leafy plant. Wild lettuce can be combined with valerian to enhance its sedative properties, and is available as a tea or as tablets. The use of wild lettuce is not advisable if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
11. California Poppy
California poppy contains chemicals that might cause relaxation and sleepiness. It reduces anxiety, induces sleep and improves the quality of your sleep as well. You can combine it with valerian for a stronger sedative. You can use it as a tea or tincture.
Although there are no studies that could conclusively verify that lavender is an effective treatment for insomnia, there are major published studies that have found that the effects are beneficial enough to be tried as an alternative therapy. Lavender is most often used as a form of aromatherapy. Breathing in the vapors can help with relaxation, which then in turn could treat insomnia. In addition to using the lavender as an essential oil, many use lavender internally by taking it as a tea or tincture. If you are interested to learn more about essential oils you can find useful information in my book Magical Aromatherapy. This book will help you to discover the power of essential oils and the most effective ways to use them.
If you are interested in herbs and herbal remedies, you can find more useful information in the Herbal Remedies Guide. This guide will teach you how to treat common ailments using herbs:
Courtesy Healthy and Natural World