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If you ever watched the ceiling for half of the night, you know how important is to find ways to help yourself fall asleep. There are many plants that have sedative or otherwise sleep-inducing properties. They can help with both falling asleep and staying asleep, usually with very few side effects. Let’s take a look at some of the best herbs for sleep.
There are many herbs that have originally been folk remedies for sleeping problems and have later been shown to have modes of action similar to pharmaceuticals used to aid sleep. As these herbs have tranquilizing and soothing properties, they can also combat anxiety, worry and restlessness. Be careful, though, if using them during the daytime.
Best Herbs For Sleep
1. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), also known as melissa, is a traditional folk remedy for sleep problems. It inhibits the breakdown of the sedative neurotransmitter GABA and possibly acetylcholine.
Many herbal sleeping pills contain lemon balm, but few clinical trials have been done. One found the combination of Valerian and lemon balm effective and very well tolerated for sleeping problems and restlessness in children.
Lemon balm can also be used as a tea.
Valerian (Valeriana officialis) is thought to work by increasing the brain levels of GABA. Its efficacy has been demonstrated in numerous studies. Some people notice the effects right away, but it can take 2-3 weeks to see the full results.
Valerian can be taken as pills or tea, though most people do not find the taste very pleasant. This is my favorite valerian supplement.
Better known for its use in beer brewing, hops (Humulus lupulus) are also used as a sleep aid. It may work by slowing down the breakdown of GABA and acting via the melatonin receptors.
Hops has rarely been studied alone, but many studies have found the combination of hops and valerian effective in inducing sleep.
Passionflower (Passiflora spp) is used in the treatment of anxiety, but sometimes also for sleep. Few human studies have been done on it, but it may have a mode of action similar to benzodiazepine drugs.
5. Kava Kava
Kava kava (Piper methysticum) has mostly been used to treat anxiety, but it is also an effective sleep aid. Its mode of action is not well understood.
About 5-10% of people have a gene defect affecting the enzyme CYP2D6 which makes them vulnerable to liver damage from use of kava, which is why it has been banned in many countries.
6. Avena Sativa
Avena sativa is an extract of sprouted oats. It has been used to treat anxiety and worry, so it might also help sleep, but there are no studies of this use, nor of its pharmacological properties.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is an old remedy for insomnia and some studies have found it useful as a sleep aid. It is often used in aromatherapy, but can also be brewed into tea.
Besides aiding sleep, lavender can be used for pain relief.
You can also make dream pillows with lavender and many of the other herbs here.
8. German Chamomile
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) may have a mode of action similar to the benzodiazepine drugs. It is rarely included in herbal sleeping pills, but it is a common tea.
Those taking prescription medications should consult their doctor before consuming chamomile, as it can interfere with the efficacy of some medications.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a valued tonic herb in Ayurvedic medicine, also known as “Indian ginseng”. It has some immuno-stimulant properties, but is also a good herb for sleep. Even its Latin name means “sleep-inducing”.
Some people find the smell of jasmine (Jasminum spp) helpful in aiding sleep. Decaffeinated green tea with jasmine may be something to try. Green tea also contains L-theanine, an amino acid which relieves anxiety and stress, but is not sedative by itself.
I hope you find a coupe, teas in my list that will help you sleep better.