8 Herbal Sleep Remedies You Can Make At Home

Homemade herbal sleep aids are simple to make and are an easy way to help you get a good night sleep. Everyone has a trouble sleeping at some point in there lives, some of us more than others. Often I'm plagued with mild insomnia, especially after a stressful day. I go to bed all ready for a nice night's snooze and of course as soon as my head hits the pillow....bang....my brain decides that now the best time to try to figure out world peace, or try to solve every math problem I failed in high school (and there was a lot!!).  

If you are like me the thought of having to take expensive, possible habit forming medication doesn't sit well, and most of the time they make me groggy in the morning. As with any aliment before I turn to the commercial medications, I like to try a more natural approach.  Since what works for one person may not work for another I have complied a list of 9 of the best homemade herbal sleep that I use to help me go to sleep depending on what I have on hand. Give one a try next time you can't sleep, I hope one of these help you get the good night sleep you deserve.

Before we get to the recipes for the homemade sleep remedies, first we should look at what we can to do to help promote sleep without any supplements. By implementing these habits hopefully won't need any help sleeping at all.

 

8 Herbal Sleep Aids You can Make at Home

 

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1)Valerian Tea

 Valerian is a flowering perennial plant. A Native Plant to Europe and Asia it was introduce to North America and will grow in zones 4-9.  This hardy plants roots have been used as a natural sleep aid for centuries. Studies have shown that as a herbal sleep aid Valerian has shown to be useful for insomnia other sleep disrupting disorders.  It is thought to work by increasing the amount of GABA (gamma aminobutryic acid) that regulates the action of nerve cells and has a calming effect.  The easiest way to prepare valerian is by decocting the root and making a tea. Try brewing up this easy valerian tea. It does have a strong smell but it will help you get your  ZZZZZ's. 

You will need…

  • 1 tsp of dried valerian root
  • Strainer or infusion device, such as a tea ball 
  • 8 oz. fresh water to boil

Directions

  • Put 1 tsp of valerian root in your tea ball or similar infusion device and place in your mug.
  • Add 8 oz. of boiling water and cover the mug. Let sit and steep for 15 minutes before drinking. 
  • Add milk or honey if you’d like for flavour.

 

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2) Linden tea

Linden trees (also know as basswood trees) grow throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Linden is known to help with mild insomnia and anxiety.  The sedative properties in Linden may be from its volatile oil components citral, citronellal, citronellol, eugenol, and limonene were shown in a study to help in curbing stress and to promote relaxation. Most people report feeling relaxed, and even drowsy. Linden also can help with indigestion as well as nausea and vomiting.

You will need…
- 1-2 teaspoons of dried linden flowers
-Honey (optional)
-Hot water

Directions

  • Steep 1-2 teaspoons or so in 1 cup hot water. Steep longer if you want to reap more of the medicinal qualities from the herb. Add honey if you prefer your tea sweetened.
  • Drink the tea hot or cold.

 

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3) Chamomile tea

Chamomile has been used through out history for medicinal uses. Most commonly today it is used as a tea to help in relaxation and and to induce sleep.

In a study published by the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine it concluded that Chamomile does help people sleep. This was comparing people using chamomile compared to a a group taking a placebo. 

You will need…
- 1-2 teaspoons of dried  chamomile flowers
-Honey (optional)
-Hot water

Directions

  • Steep 1-2 teaspoons or so in 1 cup hot water. Steep longer if you want to reap more of the medicinal qualities from the herb. Add honey if you prefer your tea sweetened.
  • Drink the tea hot or cold.

  

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4) St John's Wort

Use of  St Johns wort has been  dated back to the ancient Greeks, first mentioned by Pliney the Elder  for is medicinal benefits.

Modern scientific studies show that it can help relieve chronic insomnia and mild depression when related to certain brain chemistry imbalances. 

St Johns Wort contains the ingredients hypericin and hyperforin.  Hypericin is the ingredient used to help with sleep. As the Hypericin in St. John's Wort may inhibit the bodily chemical, monoamine oxidase, which is associated with anxiety and depression.

You will need…
-2 teaspoons of dried Saint John’s Wort (herb top/flowers)
-8 ounces of freshly boiled water
-honey or lemon to taste (optional)

Directions

  • Place the herb in a mug and cover with boiling water.
  • Steep for 5-10 minutes, strain, and drink once daily (either morning or 30-45 minutes before bed.)

Other Forms of St John's Wort:

Allow 2-3 weeks for the full therapeutic effect to develop. If you experience light sensitivity or other unpleasant symptoms, reduce or discontinue the St. John’s wort and consult a qualified medical professional.

 

lemon-balm

  

5) Lemon Balm

According to the American Botanical Council Lemon Balm tea was approved by the German Standard License for calming  nervous disorders of sleep and of the gastrointestinal tract, and to stimulate the appetite.

Lemon balm is  often used as an alternative to commercial sleep aids, which can often cause speech slurring, impaired memory and other side effects.

You will need…
- 1-3 teaspoons of dried lemon balm (or 3/4 cup of fresh leaves)
-Honey (optional)
-Hot water

Directions

  • Put 1 to three teaspoons of the dried lemon balm for each cup of boiling water. 
  • Steep for 5 minutes, or longer if you prefer.
  • You can drink the tea up to 4 times daily.
  • Add honey if you prefer your tea sweetened. 

OR 

Make a sleepy time herbal syrup

  • Add 3/4 cup lemon balm leaves into a small pot and add enough water to just cover the leaves.
  • Simmer, covered partially, until the liquid is reduced in half.
  • Strain out & compost the leaves.
  • While still quite warm, measure out about 1/2 cup of the concentrated tea and stir 1/4 cup raw honey into it.
  • Store in the refrigerator for a week or so.
  • Dose by the spoonful at night to help calm and relax everyone from children to adults. (Keeping in mind that honey should not be given to infants under one year old.)

 

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6) Hops

Historically, hops were a traditional medicine used as one of the herbs for sleep because they contain methylbutenol, which has a calming, sedating, and sleep inducing effects.

Now in modern times, Commission E, Germany's equivalent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has given its approval for using hops in cases of anxiety, restlessness, and fighting sleepless nights.

The first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word hops is probably beer, but this quick growing vine is also an excellent remedy for calming nerves and promoting relaxation (not in the form of beer, sorry!) Rather, it can be made into a strong tea and drank right before bed, or made into a sleep sachet and placed under your pillow at night (just replace or add it to the lavender).

You will need…
-2 tablespoons of dried hops
-4 cups of boiling water
-A quart glass jar with a tightly fitting lid

Directions
Place the hops into a glass jar with a tightly fitting lid and cover with boiling water. Allow it to steep for at least 5 hours, or overnight, and then strain. Reheat or chill and drink a cup 30-45 minutes before bedtime for an easy and restful slumber. This will keep in the refrigerator for 2 days.

 

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7) Lavender

A number of studies have reported that lavender essential oil may be beneficial in a variety of conditions, including insomnia, alopecia (hair loss), anxiety, stress, and postoperative pain. However, most of these studies have been small. Lavender is also being studied for antibacterial and antiviral properties. Lavender oil is often used in other forms of integrative medicine, such as massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic manipulation.

Insomnia or Agitation

In folklore, pillows were filled with lavender flowers to help restless people fall sleep. Scientific evidence suggests that aromatherapy with lavender may slow the activity of the nervous system, improve sleep quality, promote relaxation, and lift mood in people suffering from sleep disorders. Studies also suggest that massage with essential oils, particularly lavender, may result in improved sleep quality, more stable mood, better concentration, and reduced anxiety. In one study, people who received massage with lavender felt less anxious and more positive than those who received massage alone. Several small studies suggest that lavender aromatherapy may help reduce agitation in people with dementia. Lavender flowers have also been approved in Germany as a tea for insomnia, restlessness, and nervous stomach irritations.

You will need…
- 1-2 teaspoons of dried  lavender
-Honey (optional)
-Hot water

Directions

  • Steep 1-2 teaspoons of lavender in 1 cup hot water. Steep longer if you want to reap more of the medicinal qualities from the herb. Add honey if you prefer your tea sweetened.
  • Drink the tea hot or cold.

 

california-poppy

 

8) California Poppy

Recent studies have shown that the medicinal ingredients in the herb Eschscholzia californica blocks pain, allowing the patient to sleep through the night without being awakened due to discomfort. The herb also helps to induce sleep, enabling patients who are in to fall asleep and experience a more restful sleep.

 

You will need…
California Poppy Tincture, (How to Make a Tincture)

Directions

  • The tincture can be ingested in its raw form, or can be added to water if preferred.
  • Adults: 30-40 drops per day.
  • Children (Age 2-17) : Dose varies depending on size and weight, see "Clarks Rule"

 

 (Childs weight/150lbs) x adult dose
Example for a 90lbs child, adult dose 60 drops
= (90/150) x 60 = 36 drops

  

Other Ways to Improve Sleep

You shouldn't have to rely on possible habit forming sedatives or expensive over the counter medications to get to sleep. Often other health and life issues are the most common cause of sleep disruption. Before you run to the pharmacy for a commercial sedative to try to fix up your chronic sleep problem, you might try these changes in your routine first. Combined with a homemade natural sleep aid you will soon find your are getting to sleep naturally and easily.

Go to Bed before Midnight

Sleep happens in 90 minute cycles, made up of two parts : non-REM sleep and REM sleep. We repeat the 90 minutes cycle through out the night. Most of our deep healing sleep occurs in the first 2 sleep cycles – not towards morning. The ratio of non-REM-to-REM sleep within these 90-minute cycles changes across the night, no matter when you go to bed. Early in the night (between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m.), most of those cycles are comprised of deep non-REM sleep and little REM sleep. The second half of the night (between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m.), this balance changes; cycles are comprised of more REM sleep with a lighter form of non-REM sleep. Because there more deep non-REM sleep earlier in the night, someone who goes to bed before midnight will have who sleeps from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. (eight hours total) will have a different overall composition of sleep with more non-REM than someone who sleeps from 3 a.m. to 11 a.m. (also eight hours total) and so is likely to experience more REM.

No Caffeine in the Evening

Caffeine maybe your go to in the daytime to feel awake, but as stimulant it will do the same in the evening. By not having any caffeine after 4 or 5 pm it will help prevent you from being up all evening and increase you ability to have a good night rest. Caffeine stays in your system for up to 12 hours, so the effects of coffee could linger late into the night. Not having caffeine for a single day can improve sleep quality that night, a study in the Journal of Clinical Nursing found.

Avoid These Foods...

Processed foods like deli meats contain a lot of sodium (salt), which by raising your blood pressure and dehydrating you can disrupt sleep.

Dark chocolate, even this healthiest form of chocolate can contain high levels of caffeine. So like coffee it can keep you up at night.

Spicy foods before bedtime can give you indigestion that makes it nearly impossible to get a good night's sleep. But even if you can eat spicy foods without discomfort, they are still linked with more time spent awake during the night and taking longer to fall asleep. It's speculated that this may be due to capsaicin, an active ingredient in chili peppers, affecting sleep via changes in body temperature.

Get More Exercise

A study in published the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity found that People sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week, a new study concludes.

A nationally representative sample of more than 2,600 men and women, ages 18-85, found that 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week, which is the national guideline, provided a 65 percent improvement in sleep quality. People also said they felt less sleepy during the day, compared to those with less physical activity.

Take Calcium and Magnesium

James F. Balch, M.D., author of Prescription for Nutritional Healing, writes: "A lack of the nutrients calcium and magnesium will cause you to wake up after a few hours and not be able to return to sleep."

Calcium is directly related to our cycles of sleep. In one study, published in the European Neurology Journal, researchers found that calcium levels in the body are higher during some of the deepest levels of sleep, such as the rapid eye movement (REM) phase. The study concluded that disturbances in sleep, especially the absence of REM deep sleep or disturbed REM sleep, are related to a calcium deficiency. Restoration to the normal course of sleep was achieved following the normalization of the blood calcium level.

William Sears, M.D. writes: "Calcium helps the brain use the amino acid tryptophan to manufacture the sleep-inducing substance melatonin. This explains why dairy products, which contain both tryptophan and calcium, are one of the top sleep-inducing foods."

In magnesium deficiency, chronic insomnia is one of the main, central symptoms. Sleep is usually agitated with frequent nighttime awakenings. On the other hand, a high magnesium, low aluminum diet has been found to be associated with deeper, less interrupted sleep. This was proven in a study done by James Penland at the Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota. The study was titled "Effects of trace element nutrition on sleep patterns in adult women." It's important to note that a balanced ratio of calcium and magnesium is important to overall health, and these two minerals should be taken together for best results.

 

For more tips on Healthy tips to help you sleep try reading the Healthy Sleep Tips post from the National Sleep Foundation 

 

Let me now how these work for you, I always love getting feedback, or if you have another natural sleep remedy that works for you let me know in the comments.  

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