We live in a funny world today where some of the most basic routine functions have become a big challenge for many people. Take sleep, for example. Our ancestors barely knew what insomnia is, but today, almost everyone has had a firsthand experience battling it!
Sleeplessness and other sleep disorders are a serious issue that can result in many negative impacts on mental and physical wellbeing. This widespread epidemic not only affects adults, but it is rising among children as well.
Sleeplessness Causes and Solutions
Anxiety is one of the leading causes of sleep disorders, but there are many other chronic and temporary; psychological, physiological and physical causes, which we will not discuss in this article.
Prescription sleep medications are amply available as a quick-fix solution, and while they work effectively, they come with hefty disadvantages, such as short/long-term side effects and high cost.
A more natural, affordable and safer alternative to prescription drugs is the use of natural sleep aids. There are several herbal remedies that have been proven to promote relaxation and sleep.
Herbal Teas As Sleep Aids
Medicinal herbs may not be as effective or fast-acting as synthetic chemical drugs, but they can be part of a natural, holistic, long-term treatment approach.
The following are six of the best herbal remedies that can improve sleep quality and induce calmness. These can be found in over-the-counter (OTC) supplements (powder or capsules), or more enjoyably as an herbal tea.
If you find yourself often struggling to fall asleep, then adding these herbs to your daily diet may help you enjoy a more peaceful and restful night’s sleep.
1. Valerian (Valeriana Officinalis)
Valerian is a flowering plant natively found in Asian and European areas. The root of this plant and its extract have been shown to possess anxiolytic and sedative properties, making it an effective natural sleep aid.
Studies showed promise that valerian root extracts may treat insomnia, although results were not consistent enough so far to make such a conclusion.
Anecdotally, valerian root is one of the most recommended and praised herbal supplements for sleep, and it is found in almost every sleep-enhancing herbal formula on the market. It is widely available in powder form, capsules or as ready-to-use tea bags.
2. Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis)
Lemon balm is a small green leafy plant that looks similar to common mint, and it does belong to the mint family. The leaves have a lemon aroma, which earned it its common name; lemon balm.
Traditionally, lemon balm has been used for various health issues. It is widely used as a natural relief for anxiety, stress and sleeplessness. Studies found it has anxiolytic and antidepressant effects, and it may improve sleep quality.
Lemon balm is a common ingredient in multi-herb sleep supplements. It can also be bought as powder or leaves (fresh or dry) to make a savory tea.
3. Passionflower (Passiflora Incarnata)
Passion flowers include many species of flowering vines that natively grow in South, Central and North America. Different parts of this plant have been used in traditional medicine.
The fresh or dried leaves are used to make a healing tea, which is believed to help reduce anxiety, and induce relaxation and restful sleep. Clinical studies of its extracts confirmed the sedative effects of passionflower, which was attributed to its GABAergic activity.
4. California Poppy (Eschscholzia Californica)
California poppy, the official state flower of California, has more than just pretty golden flowers to offer! Various parts of this plant have been used in herbal remedies as a sleep aid and analgesic.
Researchers found that certain alkaloids in California poppy promote a mild sedative and antidepressant activity. People use it in combination with other sleep-inducing herbs or on its own as a relaxing tea.
5. Chamomile (Matricaria Chamomilla/Recutita)
The flower heads of the chamomile plant have long been used in traditional remedies around the world. Infused into hot tea, chamomile is used for various purposes, most commonly to easy stomach and digestive problems, and also to promote relaxation and sleep.
One study found that chamomile may provide modest relief for people suffering from anxiety disorder. A more recent study concluded that drinking chamomile tea improves sleep quality problems and depression in postnatal women.
6. Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera)
Yet another use of this popular multi-purpose medicine of nature! Originally used in Indian traditional medicine (Ayurveda), ashwagandha has become one of the most popular over-the-counter supplements in the U.S. and worldwide.
Ashwagandha is particularly recommended as a natural aid for several mental health problems, including anxiety, ADHD, OCD, cognitive impairment and others. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that helps the body combat daily stress and fatigue.
In some studies, ashwagandha exhibited a GABAergic effect that is thought to be the cause of its sleep-promoting effect.