23rd January 2020
Sleep is a necessity for all of us, but that doesn’t mean it comes easy. Prolonged periods of poor sleep can have a negative impact on our physical and mental health. While there are a number of treatments available to aid sleep, one area that can be overlooked are natural and herbal remedies. Below is our pick of the 6 best herbs to help you sleep and relax.
Native to Asia and Europe, Valerian root has been used since ancient times as a dietary supplement for insomnia and depression. It was even documented that Valerian was used during World War II to help relieve the stress caused by air raids on British soil. To this day is it one of the most commonly used sleep promoting herbal supplements in the European and US markets.
It would be fair to say opinions within the medical and scientific communities are divided when it comes to Valerian. Studies have shown Valerian root can have a positive impact on the time taken to fall asleep, while others believe there is no concrete evidence. The studies also concluded there doesn’t appear to be any side effects such as morning drowsiness while taking the extract.
Renowned for its incredible beauty, Passionflower is also highly regarded as an effective remedy to help promote relaxation and calm the mind. It’s believed the vine was given its name by Pope V in 1605 who regarded the flower as a symbol of the ‘passion of Christ’.
The chemical composition of the plant is rich in alkaloids, coumarins and flavones, while the extract also contains GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter which can have a calming effect on the nervous system. Many also use Passionflower in combination with other herbs such as Valerian and hops.
Lavender is a widely used herb due to its soothing and aromatic scent. It’s believed to have properties that may improve sleep quality, particularly for those with anxiety related disorders.
There are a number of ways in which you can use Lavender to help promote relaxation. A cup of warm Lavender tea a couple of hours before bedtime is a great way to help you wind down. Alternatively you could try lightly spraying your pillow with Lavender or soaking in a hot bath before bed with a few drops of lavender essential oils and Epsom salts.
Lemon Balm is a citrus scented herb that belongs to the mint family and is found all over the world. It’s mainly sold in extract form for use in aromatherapy but you can purchase the balm leaves dried to make a cup of tea.
It is believed Lemon Balm has a calming effect to aid anxiety, restlessness and sleep problems, although more commonly used for digestive issues.
Chamomile is widely regarded as a sleep inducer and mild tranquiliser, commonly taken as a tea. Chamomile tea had been used as a natural remedy to help reduce inflammation, treat insomnia and aid anxiety issues. It’s believed the calming effects of chamomile tea are due to the presence of the antioxidant apigenin, which binds to specific receptors in your brain that may decrease anxiety and initiate sleep.
Chamomile tea is arguably the most recommended beverage to stimulate relaxation, widely available in health stores and supermarkets around the world. It does however have its critics when it comes to sleep, as chamomiles effectiveness as a sleep aid has not been widely researched on humans, but has shown signs of success during animal studies.
California poppies are small plants with orange, yellow and red flowers that mainly thrive in dry conditions. Historically Spanish explorers dubbed the plant “Copa del Ora” meaning ‘cup of gold’, as legend has it the petals were filled with gold. It was traditionally used to help treat illnesses such as headaches, sores and toothache.
In the modern day the herb is also regarded as a way to help with restlessness and anxiety, therefore a useful sleeping aid. Many also tend to use the herb in conjunction with Valerian.
So there you have it, 6 of the best herbs to help you sleep. If you are having issues with sleep we would always recommend seeking advice from a medical professional before trying any treatments.