Get Better Sleep Naturally: Natural Remedies for Restorative Rest

Let Mother Nature’s herbal remedies work on your behalf to obtain the restorative rest you need.

| August/September 2019

sleep
Photo from Getty Images/Mladen ZIvkovIc

Few natural remedies are so enjoyable and affordable as a good night’s sleep. Yet, sleep can be incredibly elusive. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, yet many of us miss the mark. Approximately 35 percent of adults don’t meet the bare minimum of seven hours. The percentage rises to 46 percent among people of color, and nearly 70 percent of teens who need more sleep than adults don’t get the recommended eight hours per night. Women are particularly susceptible to insomnia, with up to 50 percent reporting that they lie awake at night, unable to sleep.

Grogginess and lethargy only scratch the surface of insomnia’s impact on the body. Lack of sleep is linked to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, depression, reduced immune health, and cognitive impairment. While some of these effects are cumulative, just one night of inadequate sleep triples your risk of catching the common cold. And because sleep deprivation affects hormone production, you can end up eating 500 more calories per day when ghrelin — the hormone that signals a full stomach — becomes suppressed, while leptin — the hormone that controls hunger — rises. Yet, even if you want more sleep, achieving it may feel out of your control. Fortunately, herbs and simple lifestyle changes can help.

3 Key Herbs to Support Sleep

Various plants can help us sleep better, particularly those that are nervine; these calm or sedate the nervous system. People experience varying responses to individual herbs. As a trained herbalist, I recommend starting slowly with any new-to-you herb. Try it first in the evening while relaxing at home — just before bedtime, or a few times between dinner and bedtime, beginning with a low dose and working up to higher doses over time.



Always be careful combining sleep herbs with drugs that also have sedative actions, such as anti-anxiety medications, sleeping pills, antidepressants, and certain pain and allergy medications. These may overly sedate in combination with herbal remedies, particularly if taken in high doses. Serious side effects of over-sedation include: impaired motor skills, falling asleep while driving or operating heavy machinery, increased risk of depression and sluggishness, and decreased heart rate or respiration.

That said, the following herbs are generally well tolerated and quite safe. Typical doses range from 1/5 to 1 teaspoon (1 to 5 milliliters) of tincture liquid extract diluted in water; 1 teaspoon dried herb per cup of tea; or in capsules as directed on the label. Take just before going to bed, or a few times between eating dinner and lying down for bed.






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