Mr Sandman, please knock me out!
I’ve been plagued with insomnia since I was a child, it comes and goes, messing the natural rhythms of my biological clock, leaving me impatient and headachy for days afterward. The recent turbulence from losing a family member and the subsequent return to work have added stress, resulting in sleepless.
Sometimes I wish there was a switch I could flip to turn off my over-active grey matter .
There is, however, a collection of remedies that I have been using to aid the Sandman’s nightly visit…
With many studies on sleep and how much we need to maintain good health, allowing the body to rejuvenate, it can vary from a minimum of 7 to 10 hours. It’s different for everyone, I find 5-6 hours of unbroken slumber sufficient. Overnight, your body burns more calories than doing the same activity while awake; it softens and plumps the skin, replenishing hydration and diminishing dark circles and fine lines around the eyes.
With many sleep solutions on the market, pharmaceuticals tend to leave me drowsy the next day and unable to sleep the following night; and I’m not good with anything too smelly, like oils that you can apply to the skin or lightly spritz bedding or use in an oil burner. I tend to favour herbal tinctures or capsules. Every now and then I’ll attempt a tea or infusion to avoid building up a tolerance to any one remedy.
Patients going through menopause have also reported favourable results in using some of these remedies.
California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica):
California poppy is an excellent herb to ease anxiety and stress. It not only helps you nod off, but improves quality of sleep as well. This little herb is also a general anesthetic and muscle relaxant. Another beneficial fact s that it is safe for children. 20-30 drops of a tincture right before bed should help ease most people into a good night rest.
Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata):
Passion flower is a brilliant herb for people who wake frequently throughout the night. It is a safe herb for most (excluding excessive use in pregnancy, especially in the first trimester), including children and can be taken in large doses frequently. It is used to promote a deep restful sleep and ease anxiety. Take 30-60 drops of passion flower tincture an hour before bed, and again at bed time if you are not yet tired. The herb can be combined with others to make a wonderful night time tea as well.
Ashwagandha works more in helping the body deal with stress than as a sedative. It is an adaptogen with strong affinities toward the nervous system. It also aids with hormone fluctuations brought on by tension, especially helping regulate cortisol levels at night time. Cortisol is what wakes you up at 2 am thinking about a million things at once and not being able to fall back asleep. Taking 500mg of Ashwangandha daily can help your body even out stress hormone levels resulting in a good nights sleep.
Valerian is a glorious nervine and anti-spasmodic. It is often used to ease nervous tension or overstrain. Valerian promotes sleep in most, but can act like a stimulant in some. It can help people fall asleep without the sedative hang over some get from over the counter sleep aids. This is a herb you don’t want to take daily for a long period of time. The body can get used to valerian so it is recommended to take it for two to three weeks, then take a break for 3 weeks, and repeat. Valerian is a nasty smelling herb and is easiest to take in capsules or in a tincture combined with better tasting herbs.
Chamomile is a well known calming herb. Relaxing both the body (muscles) and the mind. It is also a wonderful gentle sedative. Safe and effective for children.
Chamomile tea sipped by a breastfeeding mother can soothe the baby after breastfeeding. Toddlers can sip chamomile tea with a little bit of honey before bed time to calm them before bed. Adults can drink 2-4 cups of chamomile tea at the end of the day to help calm down before bed time. Steep chamomile in hot water for 10 minutes in a tightly capped jar, strain and enjoy.
Lavender is the herb familiar for calming and relaxing the body and mind. The leaves can be drunk as a tea, or added to food. It is great for insomnia, agitation and restlessness.
Hops is a potent nervine and sedative. Great for nervousness, irritation, twitching, irritability and sleeplessness. You can make an herbal infusion of 2 tbsp hops steeped in a quart of hot water with a covered lid. Let that infuse for 4-8 hours and drink before bed time. The herbal tincture dosage is between 10 – 30 drops in water before bed.
As always, if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or on any medications, consult a practitioner familiar with botanical medicine before adding any herbal remedies to your regime.
I hope you’ve found a valuable solution if you suffer as I do; and here’s to you experiencing some beautiful dreams as you get that elusive full nights rest.
Have you tried any of these? Have a remedy which is infallible for you – I’d love to hear about it.
Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.