13 Natural Herbs For Sleep
Natural herbs for sleep include ashwagandha, California poppy, chamomile, Holy Basil, and lavender, to name a few! Check out the rest here with ivee!
Most people suffer from the occasional bout of mild insomnia or difficulty sleeping, particularly when dealing with excessive stress or discomfort. Over-the-counter medications and prescription sleep aids can have unpleasant side effects and may be habit-forming, but here are 13 natural herbs for sleep that may be able to help you get a good night’s rest.
Ashwagandha is a popular herb that has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years to combat a wide range of medical conditions, including insomnia. It turns out that the previous generations were onto something, as ashwagandha has been found to help you fall asleep faster and improve the quality of sleep overall in several studies.
The secret to ashwagandha’s effectiveness is found in its leaves. A compound called triethylene glycol goes to work to help you fall asleep faster, address feelings of stress or anxiety, and create a sense of calm. The sedative effect of ashwagandha means it may be a natural alternative to over-the-counter sleep medications and may help to address feelings of anxiety.
If you’re having trouble sleeping due to mild pain or discomfort, California poppy may be able to help. This herb helps to address pain when consumed in the form of a tea or rubbed onto an achy area in the form of oil.
If your pain is particularly troublesome, it’s recommended that you massage the aching area with California poppy-infused oil, as it is more effective at relieving pain than the tea.
The next herb that can help address issues with sleeplessness is chamomile, which you’re likely already familiar with due to its popularity as an herbal tea.
Several studies have examined the effects of chamomile, including a clinical trial from 2017 that investigated how the herb influenced sleep in older adults. The study found that participants who consumed chamomile extract twice daily over the course of four weeks had significant improvements in their sleep quality.
Chamomile tea can help create a feeling of calm, but the extract is more effective in promoting quality sleep.
Holy Basil is another popular traditional medicine remedy that is used to address a wide range of health conditions. Among its many beneficial properties, Holy Basil has been found to help address sleep disorders like insomnia, reduce stress, and address anxiety.
Adaptogens found in Holy Basil are the same as those that the body uses to help adapt and deal with stressful situations and balance you mentally when you’re stressed. The reduction in stress can help you sleep better if you’re lying awake worrying. Additionally, people who struggle with pain or discomfort at night can benefit from Holy Basil’s analgesic properties.
Far from being just a plant used in brewing beer, hops can also be used to address insomnia. The flowers of hops contain a compound known as methylbutanal, which is known to induce feelings of sleep.
The herb has been used for centuries, and the best part is that you don’t necessarily have to consume them to feel the effects. Hops can be made into a tea with chamomile to mask the bitter taste, but you can also keep powdered hops near your bedside to release the fragrant compounds to help lull you to sleep.
There’s a reason that so many children’s bath products contain lavender; this popular herb has been used for centuries to increase relaxation and promote sleep.
The compound in lavender that is believed to contribute to sleep quality is known as silexan, and several studies have been conducted to document its effectiveness. A study conducted in 2015 found that participants who took silexan experienced significant reductions in anxiety and corresponding improvements in sleep quality.
If one of the reasons that you have difficulty sleeping is due to anxiety or stress that keeps you awake at night, lavender might be able to help. There is a wide range of products designed to capture the sleep-inducing properties of lavender, including teas, pillow sprays, shampoos, and more.
Lemon balm is one of the less well-known herbs on the list, but it might just become a fast favorite.
Related to mint plants, lemon balm leaves smell and taste like lemon but boast the medicinal properties of mint. Mint is commonly used to address tense muscles and aid digestion, so if you’re experiencing muscle pain, soreness, bloating, or digestive discomfort that’s keeping you awake at night, lemon balm might be able to help.
The bark of the magnolia tree is one of the most effective herbs for sleep. The compounds found in magnolia bark seem to work by helping you relax, which makes you feel drowsy and induces deep sleep.
Magnolia bark is so effective that it should not be taken if you need to drive or operate heavy machinery, and it can make you drowsy when taken during the day.
Magnolia bark is usually broken down into a capsule that is taken orally at night. The good news is that it appears that magnolia bark can help to reset your circadian rhythm, meaning you don’t have to use it for an extended period of time.
Taking the capsule daily for a short period of time may be enough to reset your circadian rhythm and help you get to sleep naturally.
As noted above, mint has a number of properties that make it helpful for inducing sleep. Mint encourages your muscles to relax, which can help reduce feelings of tension, cramping, or soreness. Additionally, mint helps to keep your digestive tract working properly.
If you’ve ever been kept awake by bloating, cramping, or other digestive discomforts after a big meal, mint may be able to help.
Passionflower’s effects on sleep have not been widely studied, but there is some evidence to suggest that consuming passionflower with other natural herbs for sleep may help improve the quality of your sleep.
A study conducted in 2013 looked at how a combination of valerian, passionflower, and hops worked as a treatment of insomnia compared to the prescription drug zolpidem (Ambien).
The study found that participants in both groups showed significant improvements in their sleep, as evidenced by increased time spent asleep, reduced amount of time to fall asleep, reduced number of times waking up during the night, and overall severity of insomnia.
Compared to zolpidem, which is known to cause several significant and potentially dangerous side effects, the combination of valerian, passionflower, and hops caused few mild side effects and was overall well tolerated.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort is well known for its ability to help address symptoms of depression, but it can also be useful in addressing insomnia.
The flowers of this weedy herb contain a large amount of a compound called tryptophan, which boosts the production of a neurotransmitter called serotonin in the brain. Low levels of serotonin are linked to depression, but boosting serotonin levels can also help you fall asleep and stay asleep since the chemical also plays a role in sleep regulation.
When using St. John’s Wort, make sure to apply sunscreen when going outdoors, as it can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
Valerian root is the most popular herb used to reduce insomnia, and it is available in a number of different formulas, including teas, dietary supplements, and extracts. The herb has been used for hundreds of years to promote feelings of sleep, but while many studies have been conducted, no one is quite sure of exactly how the compounds found in this herb work to help you sleep better.
A literature review conducted in 2020 found that valerian root can be beneficial in addressing certain sleep disorders, including insomnia. The review found that valerian root works well as an alternative treatment but may be associated with side effects, like nausea and stomach cramps, in some people.
Wild lettuce is another natural herb that can be used to help you get better rest at night. A compound found in wild lettuce known as lactucarium is known to contain pain-relieving and sedative properties.
When used to help promote better sleep, wild lettuce can address small aches and pains, calm feelings of stress and tension, and address symptoms associated with mild forms of side effects. Wild lettuce has few, if any, side effects and is widely regarded as safe for use, so it is commonly used in homeopathic sleep aids for children.
The Bottom Line
Each of the 13 natural herbs outlined above can be used to address difficulty sleeping and symptoms of insomnia. Many herbs are associated with minimal side effects and few drug interactions, making them a useful alternative for people who are particularly sensitive to the side effects of other sleep aids or are concerned about drug interactions.
In addition to getting better sleep, there are also ways to help support better energy levels throughout the day — check out our article here about the best energy supplements.
Speak to your Provider before using a new herb or medication to ensure that there are no drug interactions you need to be aware of.