Sleep is such an interesting topic. It is really not as black and white as we would like it to be and this is why we cannot have a linear approach. There are so many different reasons why you may not be sleeping, so no, melatonin is not for everyone!
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, we have an organ clock that can help us determine underlying issues. Certain hours of the night will be associated with a potential organ and/or emotional imbalance. Waking during the same time each night can help you narrow in on potential imbalances that may be contributing to your lack of sleep. You can read more about this in my post Can't sleep? Before you do anything, read this.
Getting to the underlying reason you are not sleeping is critical to the treatment of it. This approach will promise faster more long lasting results. With better clarity, we can better support the body with the appropriate foods, supplements and lifestyle changes. Start by asking yourself these questions?
Do I struggle to get to sleep?
Do I struggle to stay asleep?
Why am I waking up?
Let's get one thing clear...
If you are struggling to sleep due to pain, then sleep is not your issue, pain is!
If you are struggling to sleep because you have to go pee in the night, then sleep is not your issue, kidneys and timing of water consumption likely are the issue!
If you are struggling to sleep because your kids wake you, your body's ability to rest is not the issue, your kid's ability to do so is, let's support them in healthy sleep patterns.
Do you see where I am going with this? We need to understand the underlying contributor.
So if you are unable to sleep because you are anxious, stressed, can't stop spinning your wheels or you just can't seem to get good quality sleep, this is for you! Let's take a look at the 5 common herbs used to aid in sleep.
General Anxiety Disorder, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and Chronic Fatigue
Lavender has become well known for it's benefits of calming the mind and body. In recent studies lavender has been shown to improve symptoms such as restlessness, disturbed sleep and was shown to be an excellent natural remedy to treat insomnia and improve sleep quality. GAD, PTSD and chronic fatigue all showed benefits from the use of lavender and it has even been shown to help ease pain.
Uses: New Roots D-Stress Organic Lavender Oil Supplement, tea or topical use of the essential oil.
Anxiety, Insomnia and Nervous Restlessness
Studies have show that the use of valerian can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and improve the quality of sleep. Unlike many prescription sleeping pills, valerian has been recognize as gentle and safe with fewer side effects, such as morning drowsiness.
It is worth noting that one study found valerian was no more effective than the placebo group for 14 days, but by 28 days sleep was greatly improved by those who were taking valerian. It is suggested that valerian be used for a few weeks before benefits are seen, there have also been studies that have found it to be effective almost immediately.
Uses: Dry powdered extracts in capsule, tinctures, tea
Acute and Chronic Anxiety Leading To insomnia
"Traditional herbalists used passionflower to promote sleep, especially when patients complained of restlessness and interrupted sleep due to exhaustion." Recent clinical studies have now confirmed this, showing it is one of the most valuable and effective herbal anxiety remedies as well as its effectiveness in improving sleep and insomnia. It is common to see passion flower combined with other calming herbs such as valerian and lemon balm, skullcap, chamomile, hops and kava.
Uses: Capsule, tincture, tea
Insomnia and Restlessness
Hops, the familiar component of beer is being touted for it's sedative effect and it's ability to preserve the circadian rhythm (the bodies rhythm of day vs. night). Studies recognize the sedative effect of hops and it's ability to reduce waking in the night. We also see further research showing the combination of hops and valerian create a greater effect in their ability to provide a deeper sleep by increasing your sleep brain alpha-waves.
Uses: Capsule, tincture, tea, alcohol free beer, if you are living on the wild side, certainly not my top reccommendation)
Anxiety, Insomnia, Pain and Inflammation
A mild tranquilizer, chamomile has been shown to induce sleep and inhibit General Anxiety Disorder activity. It's calming effects have been shown to help you fall into a deep lasting sleep soon after comsuming a chamomile tea. While this miracle herb can be beneficial for your sleep, studies show it is also commonly used for many ailments such as hay fever, inflammation, muscle spasms, insomnia, ulcers, wounds, gastrointestinal disorders and hemorrhoids.
Uses: Capsule, tincture, tea, topical use of essential oil
While there is much research to back the use of each of these individual herbs, there are just as many that encourage the use and combination of these herbs to work synergistically together to have a greater affect! So don't be afraid to explore herbal combinations either in by supplement or tea blends.
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