Not getting enough sleep. One of the biggest problems in today’s society. That, and an awful lot of stress. We’re constantly on the move, planning our next step and all this on-the-go fretting causes all kinds of health problems.
When we feel worn out and run down due to stress, we often look for a “quick fix” – in the form of sleeping pills or similar – which can come with harmful side effects of their own. That’s why I’d advocate a more natural approach to getting some sleep. And here are my favourite herbs that can help send you in the direction of la-la land.
There’s nothing quite like a relaxing cup of chamomile tea before bedtime. Long hailed for its calming qualities, this tasty flower soothes the body, mind and tummy while working its magic on the nervous system, too.
How to use: You can find chamomile teabags in lots of outlets; add to hot water for a calming cup 1–2 times a day. You could also try 30 drops of the extract 3 times daily.
Passionflower boosts the brain’s production of GABA – our main calming neurotransmitter. GABA is important for a number of issues and can soothe pain, restless leg syndrome, anxiety, ADHD and more. Since passionflower can work as well as some benzodiazepine medications (usually prescribed for treating anxiety), it’s a much more natural solution to deal with stress.
How to use it: Enjoy one cup of passionflower tea 2–3 times daily, or mix 20–40 drops of the liquid extract in a little juice or water every day.
3. California Poppy
This sunny optimist inducer is great for treating stress and anxiety. It also works with our GABA neurotransmitter, providing the benefits of prescription anxiety medication without the dangers of addiction or toxicity. With its mild sedative qualities, it’s a handy herb for helping you get to sleep.
How to use it: The extract is stronger, so more useful if you’re having trouble sleeping. 30–40 drops 2–3 times daily should do the trick.
Like chamomile, this versatile flower is known all over for its calming qualities. But did you know that in addition to promoting relaxation, inducing calmness and aiding sleep, it can actually reduce irritability and anxiety, too?!
It seems like there’s nothing lavender can’t do. So it should be your go-to herb for calming down, getting some rest…and smelling great while you’re at it!
How to use it: Sprinkle a few drops on your pillow before bedtime, track down some lavender incense or drink it in a tea. Whatever form it takes, it will help you relax in no time.
Ok, so it might be technically more of a spice than a herb, but I can’t fail to mention it here… simply because it’s so amazing! Turmeric has a heap of health benefits, from treating cuts and soothing muscle pain to aiding with digestion. In fact, it has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties plus its high levels of antioxidants.
Without getting into too much detail, turmeric works to improve blood flow and in doing so, calms the body and mind. It’s great for your overall health and for any disorders relating to sleep and stress, too.
How to use it: Take half a teaspoon a day of organic turmeric. Mix it into a smoothie, add a spice kick to soup, or make a ‘golden latte’ before bedtime – my personal favourite! For this tasty treat simply add 1 tsp of turmeric with 1 tsp each of cinnamon and ginger to a cup of warm almond milk. It’s like a hug for your insides!
You’re probably pretty familiar with this tasty herb. A key component in all things Italian, you’re bound to have encountered and enjoyed it several times in your life. But basil is so much more than an ingredient in pesto or spaghetti sauce; it is, in fact, a bona-fide stress buster!
High in nutritional content and with a load of natural immune-boasting functions, this powerful leaf should be a staple in any kitchen cupboard.
How to use it: Add fresh basil to hot water, mixing it with mint and lime for a refreshing tea. Or add a generous helping to whatever gourmet masterpieces you can whip up! Psst…don’t worry if you can’t find the fresh version; organic dried basil is a perfect substitute.
So there you have it: 6 herbs that can help you combat stress and improve sleep – the natural way. For more sleep-related guidance, check out what the guys at The Sleep Advisor have to say. From insights into what your sleeping position says about you to meditation exercises you can try before settling down, their aim is to help everyone get a sounder sleep.
Next time you’re tempted to reach for those stress or sleeping “quick fixes”, try the natural route instead. It may not be as instantaneous, but it will lead to a healthier, happier, and more rested you.