Sleep, that elusive little creature.

Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Yes, you might need to read that again.

I’m a 9 hour girl myself but 8 will do in a pinch. 

Many people don’t even come close. 

I know a lot of people say they function just fine (message me if you want to know what fine stands for) on very little sleep, which I for one don’t believe for a minute. 

Grogginess and lethargy are the most obvious impacts of too little sleep but the fact of the matter is lack of sleep is linked to, an increase in diabetes, heart disease, obesity, depression, and reduced immune health just to name a few.

Yes, some of the effects are cumulative but just one night of crappy sleep can make you more susceptible to getting a cold. 🤧

Lack of sleep also affects hormone production and you can end up eating more calories in a day. Yep, not a good thing during the holidays when it’s already easy to eat too many calories.

There are as many remedies for sleep as carter has liver pills.

Side note just in case this phrase makes no sense to you: Carter’s pills were a patented medicine developed in 1868 by Samuel J. Carter from Erie, Pennsylvania. (maybe I know this because I grew up in Pennsylvania) Apparently,  Carter’s Little Liver Pills were well-known because of the advertising. The advertising was so widespread that it seemed Carter had an endless supply of pills—which is why the saying originated as “more than Carter has little liver pills.”

Anyhow, the point being, there are lots of potential ways to utilize herbs and other holistic treatments in the quest for sleep. Vitamins, minerals, lifestyle changes, massage therapy (which you should probably do anyway…I could be a little biased here 😏), meditation, diet, exercise, hypnosis, acupuncture…the list is long. 

And honestly, not all of them will work for you. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t give them a try. And you might need to use more than one to get effective results. 

The key is finding the right ones for your body. 

Many of the plants that help you sleep better are nervines which calm and sedate the nervous system. They can help with all that mental restlessness that keeps you up at night. 

It’s totally insane the things your mind wants to think about as soon as your head hits the pillow. Ridiculous!

To get a good night’s sleep your body also needs to be fully relaxed. It’s important to release all the tension that has accumulated throughout the day or at least some of it. Cause let’s face it, some days are stressful. 

Note: Taking sleep herbs with sedative drugs might not be the best idea. 

That said the following herbs are generally well tolerated and safe. 

Valerian Root

Valerian is a remedy for stress, tension, and insomnia. All the things you need to take care of before being able to get a good night’s sleep. 

Valerian is very earthy smelling and although the smell has been equated to dirty socks I don’t find that to be true for my nose at all. 

It’s rich and deep and definitely earthy. It grabs your attention when you catch a whiff and you think what is that smell? 

Once upon a time, I was digging Valerian roots in the mountains. The more I dug the more relaxed I got. Next thing I’m no longer digging but just layin on my back in the field looking up at the sky.

That’s the magic of Valerian. 

Now, some people don’t resonate with it. And that’s perfectly fine. If you are one of these people you may find it actually irritating and stimulating instead of calming and relaxing. No sweat it’s just not your herb.

It is said that Valerian is useful in dream work to aid in dream work and lucid dreaming. That’s one of the reasons my husband doesn’t like it. He says it gives him crazy dreams. Uh, so? 

I prefer Valerian as a tincture or in a capsule. And if I am making it myself I always make a fresh root tincture. Personal preference.

Valerian is dose-dependent which means you have to take enough for it to be effective. So before you say it doesn’t work try upping your dose. It’s not addictive. It may upset your stomach but you can’t overdose. 

Start slow and increase as needed. One thing you can do is take a dose 1 ½ hours before bed, then another dose ½ hours before bed. You just need to find your sweet spot. You should be relaxed but alert. 

Don’t take large doses for extended periods of time. 

Skullcap

There is a classic personality that responds well to this plant. Type A. Know anybody that fits that description? But you don’t have to be a crazy, er, um efficient organized person to benefit.

Skullcap relaxes a busy mind at night so you can shut er down and get some sleep. 

It helps soothe the overwhelm, anxiety, and exhaustion that comes when the mind is constantly overstimulated. 

Skullcap moves stress and energy out of the brain and body rather than allowing it to get stuck and stagnate causing other problems. 

It’s also great for muscles that are so tense that you can’t relax enough to fall asleep. It’s amazing how much muscle tension can contribute to insomnia. 

I’ve been known to get out of bed in the middle of the night to massage tight muscles and then slam some skullcap and go back to bed and fall asleep. Relaxing for body and mind. 

Skullcap can also help with pain which can be a big factor in not being able to sleep. 

Skullcap is best when tinctured fresh. Try 30 drops in a small amount of water. As always it’s best to start with a lower dose and work your way up to your personal sweet spot.

A nice strong cup of Skullcap tea drank about an hour before bed (cause otherwise you will be up peeing all night) helps get you ready for a nice peaceful sleep. 

Passionflower

Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. I mean who doesn’t love a good night’s sleep if you can get it?

Passionflower is used to help with the transition from a busy stressful day to sleep. Basically, it lulls you to sleep like a sweet lullaby. 

It doesn’t force you to go to sleep like a pharmaceutical might but supports you in finding your own way to relax and drift off. 

Do you ever have those nights when your mind is just one big circle and the same thoughts are flying around your head over and over and you can’t find the off switch? Passionflower is your off switch. 

Use it as an ally for the kind of tension that manifests as muscle pain, sleeplessness, and crazy anxious thoughts. 

Passionflower is helpful for both trying to get to sleep and staying asleep. 

Passionflower is a powerful sedative plant strong enough to get the job done without leaving you feeling hungover.

Take it as a tincture or tea. Use your instincts on which option is best for you. 

You can use each of these herbs individually or in combination for a better bang for your buck.

Sweet dreams.

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