Sleep Deprivation Part 2
If you’ve been reading our blog recently, you are now familiar with why healthy sleep is so important for us and maybe you’ve learned a couple of tricks to help you sleep better. But these tricks are sometimes not enough and, what’s more, mastering them may turn out not to be as easy as it seems. When you’re exhausted and stressed out, it’s sometimes very hard to let go of whatever has been exhausting and stressing you during the day. But don’t despair, because Nature provides and it’s always better to take a natural sedative than a prescription drug, don’t you think?
Chamomile is one of the herbs that can help soothe your nerves and let you get a good night’s sleep. You can take it as tea or add five or six drops of chamomile oil in your bath water. The tea is traditionally used as a sedative in Europe and South America. It can also calm down overwrought children, if they don’t hate the taste, of course. Chamomile tea actually has a wealth of benefits, it’s not just a sedative: the plant has strong antibacterial and antiviral properties too. You can drink it during the day or half an hour before going to sleep.
Perhaps the herb that is most commonly known for its sedative effect is valerian. This herb has been used since time immemorial, or at least since the time of Ancient Greece and Rome, to cure sleeplessness and nervousness. Unlike chamomile, however, valerian needs a word of caution: according to the Institutes of Health, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should only take it on a doctor’s recommendation, because the potential effects of the herb on babies have not been sufficiently evaluated. It’s also not suitable for children below the age of three for the same reason.
Hops are another natural sleep aid, a fact that some of those among us who drink beer may have noticed on occasion – starting to feel droopy after a small glass. Hops were used by Native Americans as a sedative and also as a pain reliever from a toothache. Hops can be combined with stronger herbs like valerian for a better effect. It can be drunk as tea or you can use hops extract before going to bed. Once more, a word of caution: hops contain natural steroids, so they best be avoided by pregnant women and kids under the age of three. For the rest of us the flowers are safe.
If you’re a fan of aromatherapy you are probably familiar with the calming effect of lavender. A few drops of lavender oil in the bath water or a natural-lavender spray on the pillow will help you relax and fall asleep more easily. Alternatively, there are lavender-filled pillows.
While on the subject of flowers, there are also a couple of other ones that’ve been known to have a calming effect: passion flower and California poppy. Passion flower has no side effects, so it’s safe for use by both children and adults and there is no danger of overdose. The same is true for the poppy, which is an ingredient in a range of herbal insomnia preparations.
Today, many of these herbs are available in supplement form, so it’s a matter of choice whether you would prefer to drink a tea or take a capsule. The latter, of course, has a greater concentration of the active substances, but they’re still a safer choice than prescription meds, because their effect is milder and they have fewer side effects, if any.