We’ve all had those nights – it seems no matter how hard you try, your eyelids are spring loaded and refuse to shut. Television commercials promise a restful night’s sleep with a prescription – but listen to the warnings. Under their influence, you might just wake up behind the wheel of your car! Not for you? Try some herbal remedies for your insomnia and say nighty-night.
Chamomile – There’s no way to build up the usefulness of chamomile too much. What may sound to you like your grandmother’s tea is one fantastic little herb. Relaxing without hangover effects in the morning, gentle enough to drink during the day without knocking you out; for generations people have relied on its calming effects for a good night’s sleep.
Cat Nip – What? Rob your cat of Mr. Bobo, her favorite nip-stuffed mouse? No need to take things that far. Cat nip – or cat mint if you please – is great dried for tea or taken as a tincture. A bit stronger in effect than chamomile, yet without the morning-after effects, this is my favorite herb for a sure shot at shuteye.
Valerian – Here’s where we pull out the big guns. As a tea it positively stinks (in particular the stemmy stuff purchased commercially. If you manage to wildcraft it yourself, it’s not so rank). But boy, does it work! If you prefer, you can take it as a tincture or encapsulated. Fair warning, however: Although valerian is a powerful natural sleep aid, even an excellent pain reliever and muscle relaxer, some people do experience a valerian “hangover” if used over time, sometimes resulting in mild depression. And unfortunately, a few people experience exact opposite effects – valerian actually hops them up making sleep more difficult. But this isn’t the norm so I’ve included it due to its effectiveness. Consider using valerian only when insomnia is at its worst, or when you know you’ll only be relying on it for a short time.
Lavender – Placing some dried lavender in your pillowcase, or even using essential oil of lavender, is often the perfect solution for those with sleep issues. Lavender oil is used in aromatherapy to calm and to aid in sleep, and it’s also great for depression and anxiety relief. Some people even enjoy using dried lavender to prepare a tea before bedtime. But if you prefer to avoid taking anything internally, then simply smelling the aroma is enough to aid in a restful night. Don’t take the oil internally, however. And if applying topically, make sure it’s blended with a carrier oil. Lavender oil on its own can be too harsh for the skin.
Although caution must often be taken no matter how natural our sleep aid, the good news is there are plenty of safe alternatives that won’t leave you heavy lidded come morning. Just a few nights without sufficient sleep can be enough to throw off your health, both mentally and physically, so trying some herbs could be just what you need to cure your insomnia. The best news? You won’t wake to find yourself driving to Boston after a cup of chamomile!