Natural Sleep Remedies

Natural Sleep Remedies.

Supposing that we have done all of the things on our "How To Sleep Better" list on the previous page and are excited about finding more things we can do to enhance our nights sleep. You have come to the right place.

Of course, naturally my first love is herbs. When I say that, don't think you have to drink tea, drink tea, drink tea. Of course, drinking herbal tea is a great way to help your body prepare for sleep. But there are many other ways to use herbs. And there are other things we can do as well that don't use herbs.

  • Herbs can be used as a drink to help with sleep in either an infusion or a tincture.
  • Aromatherapy and essential oils are extremely effective and relaxing and are definitely used to promote restful sleep.
  • There are also a few folk remedies that people swear by that we will share with you. So let's get started.

Herbs. Herbs used for natural sleep remedies are usually taken one of three ways.

  • Tea. Usually put 1-2 teaspoons of herbs in a cup of boiling water and allow it to steep for 5-15 minutes. The longer it steeps the stronger it will be. If you want it to be a little stronger medicinally use 3 or even 4 teaspoons of herbs.

    You can also let it steep longer. An infusion is steeped for a minimum of 4 hours. I like mine to steep overnight. That way I know that I am getting all the good stuff.

  • Tincture - also called an Extract. A tincture is an herb extracted (usually) into alcohol. The advantage of this method is that some constituents are drawn out of the plants better in alcohol. It is also easy and fast to take. No steeping time and very portable.

    The normal way to use a tincture is to place a certain number of drops (as recommended on the bottle) into a cup of water and drink it. The alcohol is so minimal and diluted that it is extremely safe. If you have a problem with alcohol some tinctures can be purchased in glycerin. Or drink tea instead.

  • Capsules. Many herbs can be purchased in capsule form. Or you can make your own if you prefer by purchasing empty capsules and putting your herbs into them.

If you prefer you can make or purchase a sleep blend which contains more than one herb. Mountain Rose Herbs carries an amazing variety of dried herbs, tinctures and capsules. Native Remedies and Botanical Choice do not have dried herbs but make many formulas that work well. Check them out by clicking on the side bar.

HERBS FOR RELAXATION.

Here are the main non-addictive herbs used for insomnia and as natural sleep remedies listed in no particular order. You can read more about these herbs and others and find some tea blend suggestions on our page Dealing With Stress Using Herbs.

  • Chamomile. We all know about Chamomile. It is one of the safest and best loved of all natural sleep remedies. It has been used as a bedtime tea for centuries and one of it's uses is for insomnia. It is safe for children. Even Peter Rabbit took it.

    But even though it is safe and gentle, it is still powerful. Of the natural sleep remedies, chamomile is easily taken as a tea.

    Take 2 - 3 teaspoons of dried herb in 1 cup water for tea before bed. If you are allergic to ragweed - use with caution the first time you try it.

  • Catnip. Little did I know that this plant that cats go crazy for is also good for people. It contains chemicals (nepetalactone isomers) that are the same as those sedative constituents in valerian, which valerian is the #1 recommended herb for sleep.

    Catnip is a member of the mint family and thus tastes a lot better than valerian, and is also more gentle than valerian. So try it first as a tea - maybe it will do the trick.

    Use 1 -2 teaspoons in 1 cup of water before bed.

  • Lavender. Lavender is effective as a gentle strengthener of the nervous system. It can be used to soothe and promote natural sleep. It works well with other herbs.

    Try 1 teaspoon dried herb in 1 cup water for tea. Steep for 15-20 minutes. Take 3 times a day.

  • Lemon Balm. Lemon Balm, also called Melissa, is well known because it, "Makes the Heart Merry." It is recommended for nervousness, depression, insomnia and nervous headaches. It tastes good and helps improve the taste of other less tasty herbs.

    Use 2 - 3 teaspoons of herb to 1 cup of water.

  • Skullcap. A tonic, a sedative, and an antispasmodic, helps strengthen and support and relax the nervous system, and is a time honored remedy for anxiety and insomnia.

    It supports exhausted nerves caused by physical or mental exhaustion while it quiets emotional confusion.

    Use 1-2 teaspoons dried herb for tea in 1 cup water at bedtime.

  • Passion Flower. Relaxes the nervous system and is an important remedy for anxiety, tension, and insomnia. It aids the transition into a restful sleep without any 'narcotic' hangover.

    Add 1 teaspoon dried herb to 1 cup water for tea. Do not take passion flower with antidepressants.

  • Hops. Hops flowers have a relaxing effect on the central nervous system and are known for their sleep inducing sedative affect. They are used to treat tension and anxiety.

    Best used as a tea or in a sleep pillow. You should avoid using hops if you are seriously depressed.

  • St. John's Wort. Relieves depression, stress, and anxiety, along with many other things such as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). It combines well with other herbs such as valerian or hops in treatment for insomnia.

    Take either in tea or as a tincture.

  • California Poppy. Reduces anxiety and is used to treat insomnia. Try using 1 teaspoon in 1 cup of water as tea up to 4 times a day. Don't use during pregnancy.
  • Valerian. Valerian is powerful, safe, and very effective. It is an excellent remedy for anxiety, nervous tension, and insomnia. In spite of its distinct and sometimes offensive odor it is still one of the most popular herbs used today.

    In many people it has sedative effects, but in a few it causes the opposite. Use this herb responsibly, avoiding high doses and prolonged use. Because of it's strong smell and taste it is best used as a tincture.

    Try 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of tincture in water.

    Rosemary Gladstar, for natural sleep remedies, recommends starting 4 hours before bedtime and taking 1/4 teaspoon of valerian- skullcap tincture. Doing this once every hour. Be sure to dilute it in water. Also taking a calcium-magnesium supplement.


  • Here are recipes for a couple more nice teas to use as natural sleep remedies.

  • 2 parts each passionflower and skullcap
  • 1 part each valerian and hops
  • 1/2 part licorice
  • Mix the herbs together in a bowl, then transfer to a glass container with a lid for storage if you make more than one cup worth. Store in a dark place.

    Place 1 -2 t. of the dried herbs in a tea ball or loose in the cup, fill the cup with boiling water. Allow to steep. Then remove the ball or strain the loose herbs from the tea. Sip and enjoy.

  • 1 part St. John's Wort
  • 1 part Lemon Balm
  • 1 part Valerian
  • Drink before bedtime for several weeks.


    OTHER SUPPLEMENTS.

    Calcium. Calcium is very important in natural sleep remedies. A warm glass of milk containing calcium really does help. Milk is high in tryptophan, an amino acid.

    One of the things that tryptophan does is raise the serotonin levels in the body and serotonin is a neurotransmitter that causes us to sleep, and even regulates our mood.

    Tryptophan is found in all foods that have protein. Red meat as well as turkey and chicken breast have high levels of tryptophan but you don't want to eat these before bed. Keep it light.

    Warm milk with cinnamon and honey.

  • Warm your milk to just under boiling.
  • Put a piece of a cinnamon stick in the milk and let it steep 10 - 15 minutes.
  • Add honey to taste.
  • Yummm. You can also use other milk such as soy, almond, or rice milk. They are not high in tryptophan but they are relaxing and enjoyable and work well as natural sleep remedies.

    Calcium is very important in keeping your nervous system in tune. It can also be found in Kelp, Dulce, and most seaweed, as well as dark leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale.

    Almonds and sesame seeds also contain calcium. Dairy foods, of course, contain a lot of calcium.

    If you take a supplement be sure you get calcium citrate instead of calcium carbonate which cannot be absorbed by our bodies.

    Some herbs are high in calcium. Oatstraw is my favorite. Combine it with nettle and horsetail and you have a powerhouse calcium supplement. Oatstraw is also used to strengthen the nervous system.

    Other herbs include alfalfa, burdock root, mullein, nettle, peppermint, raspberry leaves, red clover and rose hips.

    "If you want a simple formula that will be high in vitamins and minerals, make yourself a daily infusion of equal parts of oatstraw, nettle, and peppermint. It is amazing how power packed those herbs are, and delicious hot or cold.

    Keeping a good balance of minerals that your body needs to stay healthy is also an important part of natural sleep remedies. They will help you have a good night's sleep. Besides calcium, there is

    • Magnesium
    • Potassium
    • Vitamin B
    • Folic acid
    • Zinc
    • Vitamin C (which helps your body absorb minerals)

    Our page on Cholesterol Lowering Foods gives you some good ideas on how to get some of these vitamins and minerals naturally.


    BATHS.

    A nice hot (warm) bath is probably one of the most relaxing things ever invented. And is one of the sweetest natural sleep remedies. Add to it a few scented candles and some soft, relaxing music. Climb in, feel the tension begin to melt away, lean back and ahhhhhhh!

    Take it up a notch and enjoy sipping a nice herbal tea as you relax.

    There are many things you can do to customize a bath just for you.

    Add some essential oil. Essentail oils can be added to your bath (10 - 15 drops) for added stress relief and relaxation. Stir them into your water so your skin doesn't come in direct contact with the essential oil. (More on essential oil below.)

    Add some fresh herbs. A few of these include chamomile flowers, rose petals and lavender flowers. To add a little luxury, float some fresh rose petals on top of the water.

    An old folk remedy uses vinegar and honey. For this fun bath, add 2 t. cider vinegar and 1 t. honey into slightly hot water. For some of today's large tubs you probably need to double this at least.

    Foot Spa. If you don't have time for a whole relaxing bath before bed even a hot foot bath helps in the natural sleep remedies. Soaking the feet is a very nice thing to do. It requires you to sit still for a time, enjoying the hot water and concentrating on something relaxing.

    Since according to reflexology, the feet contain points that affect the entire body, soaking your feet should even help a headache. Especially if you massage your feet when you are finished.

    You don't have to own a foot spa (although you can get them for half-price after Christmas practically anywhere). Just a small plastic tub or a large flat bottomed bowl will work.

    Add decoctions or infusions to your footsoak water for the best results.

    Try decocting a small handful of white oak bark strips. After it has simmered 20 minutes take it off the heat and add a handful of dried peppermint or spearmint and let it steep until cool enough to add to your water. Soooo soothing.


    SLEEP PILLOW.

    Another of the natural sleep remedies that really works is a sleep pillow. Sleep pillows have been used for centuries. They can be beautiful and elaborate or can be as simple as placing dried lavender flowers or cotton balls with lavender essential oil in a small pouch and sealing it up.

    Then just place the pouch into your pillow case and sleep sweetly.

    You can make a pocket for your sleep pillow by sewing two pieces of fabric together, or make a longer, narrow one to place over your eyes.

    Again, use the herbs for stress relief, especially dried chamomile, lavender and roses. Hops is especially great for using in a sleep pillow.

    If you want to have vivid dreams, adding mugwort to the blend is suppose to work. Be sure to add a few drops of lavender essential oil as well.


    MASSAGE. Massage soothes our bodies as well as our minds. There is something so magic in the power of touch. It can reassure and comfort, relieve pain and promote healing, and is great in the list of natural sleep remedies.

    Massage can soothe away tension. It is thought to produce endorphins which improve our well being and happiness.

    Many times I have been sitting and working for long hours when one of my children or my husband walks up behind me and starts rubbing my shoulders. Wow! Then I realize just how tense I am and beg them not to stop.

    Studies done have shown marked improvements in cancer patients and other groups who received a weekly massage. After eight weeks they felt more optimistic and showed great improvement in both relief of pain and in mobility.

    It is nice to enjoy a professional massage occasionally, but if not possible get a friend or sweetheart to give you one. Sometimes just giving yourself one is still very comforting and relaxing and great in natural sleep remedies.


    AROMATHERAPY.

    Don't overlook essential oils and aromatherapy in your quest for sleep in natural sleep remedies.

    Lavender. One of the time tested essential oils that helps with sleep is lavender, of course. I don't know what it has but it works magic with me.

    If it doesn't work for you or you don't enjoy its aroma some others to try are:

    • Bergamot - eases grieving
    • Neroli (orange blossom) - calms the mind and body
    • Marjoram - eases loneliness and grief
    • Clary Sage - enhances dream memory and combats depression
    • Roman Chamomile - calms and soothes
    • Ylang Ylang - dispels anger and creates peace

    Each has its own distinct aroma and way of affecting our response to it.

    Try adding a few drops - 10-15 - to your bath water, or put a few drops on your sleep pillow or regular pillow case. You should dilute essential oil with almond oil or other vegetable oil before rubbing it on your wrist, temples, forehead, or the back of your neck.

    Using essential oils as natural sleep remedies in these ways is very effective.

    Another trick I learned that I just love is to put a few drops of essential oil on your hair brush, then gently brush your hair before going to bed. Fabulous.

    If you do all these things as natural sleep remedies, not only will you find it easier to sleep, but you will feel like royalty. Happy sleeping.



    Return from Natural Sleep Remedies to 21 Best Ways to Relax


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