VALERIAN: NATURAL SLEEP AID
You probably didn’t know this, but March 25 is National Sleep Day here in the US! Who doesn’t like sleep? Bed time is one of my favorite times of the day! I think most people will admit that. When you are laying in bed at night, before you fall asleep its dark, peaceful and there is a certain comfort that settles over you. Further, nobody expects anything from you at that point in time. It is universally accepted and ok for you to just lay there and drift off into dreamland! I cherish that few minutes, LOL. For other people that time is stressful because they actually have trouble falling asleep. I also think it’s a funny thing (funny, hmmm, not funny haha) that while most people recognize the importance of a good night’s rest and want that for themselves, they will admit they don’t get enough of it! Sleep is crucial to our lives. If you are one of the millions that don’t get enough sleep, this blog is for you! I am going to talk about some natural things you can do to both fall asleep and also, to have a more restful sleep!
What is “good sleep”?
Good sleep is defined as (8):
Good sleep is defined as8:
1. You fall asleep in 30 minutes or less
2. You wake up for five minutes or longer no more than 1x/night
3. You fall back asleep in 20 minutes
4. You’re asleep 85% of the time you are in bed
5. You get the recommended hours of sleep per night as defined by the National Sleep Foundation:
*They recommend adults get 7-9 hours of sleep a night, teenagers get 8-10 hours of sleep and school age children get 9-11 hours. Children 5 and under need 10-15 hours a night.7
Why “good sleep” is important:
- Poor sleep can lead to weight gain. People with short sleep duration tend to weigh significantly more than those who get adequate sleep.1
This is due to numerous factors such as hormones and motivation to exercise.
- Studies show that sleep-deprived people have bigger appetites and hence tend to eat more calories.
- Good sleep can improve concentration and productivity: sleep is important for brain function (cognition, concentration, etc.)
Good sleep maximizes problem solving skills and enhances memory.
- Poor sleep impairs brain function
Sleeping less than 7-8 hours a night is linked to increased risk of heart disease and stroke.2
- There is a strong link between short sleep duration and type 2 diabetes.3,4
- Poor sleep is linked to depression. It is estimated that 90% of people with depression complain about having inadequate sleep.5
- Sleep improves your immune system and overall health. Studies have shown that people with regular adequate sleep are able to fight sickness better than sleep deprived folks.6
- Humans spend 1/3 of their life sleeping (on average).15
- Man is the only mammal that willingly delays sleep.15
Snoring is the primary cause of sleep disruption. It is estimated that 90 million Americans snore.15
According to an National Sleep Foundation poll, 36% of Americans drive drowsy or falls asleep while driving (that’s scary).15
Now that we have the basics on sleep down, lets talk about some natural things that you can do to help yourself get “good sleep”!
- Valerian is primarily a nervine tonic. It is used mostly for anxiety, nervousness, despondency, and insomnia.9 I have used valerian in the past very successfully to help me get to sleep. The herb is considered a hypnotic, or, herbs that relax, sedate, and induce sleep. In my opinion, the best way to take valerian is in a tincture (alcohol infused herbal remedy). You can buy Valerian tinctures in most natural food stores. You can also make your own tincture. All you need is the dried herb and alcohol of choice, I recommend Vodka. You can also take valerian in tea form, which can be either made yourself or purchased in health food stores.
***How to create a valerian tincture will be one of the videos I create in my DIY Home Remedies video series, available to Bucklebury Society Members only! Membership is free and you can sign up here.
Valerian is generally considered safe, but too large of a dose can cause a mild headache. Additionally, some people have also reported side effects such as nausea and upper stomach pain. Other less severe side effects include brain fog, dry mouth, strange dreams, and drowsiness.
Chamomile tea before bed is extremely helpful as it is considered a mild tranquilizer and sleep inducer. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and can help with anxiety.10 All of this makes it the perfect sleep aid. I recommend taking it in tea form thirty minutes before you go to bed. You can buy the tea in many retail locations.
This herb is very aromatic and soothing. Like chamomile, I recommend taking this in tea form 30 minutes prior to bed. Lavender may decrease anxiety and help improve overall sleep quality.11,12
4. Lemon Balm
This herb belongs to the mint family. It is commonly found in liquid extract form and used in aromatherapy, but it can also be found in dried form as a tea. It has a mild sedative ability and sipping it in tea form 30 minutes before bed can help you fall asleep and get a restful sleep.8
This is not an herb, but a hormone your body produces. It is produced by the pineal gland in the brain but is found in other areas of your body as well.13 It is often called the “sleep hormone” as high levels can help you fall asleep and also get a more restful sleep.14 This is not like the previous items on this list as it won’t necessarily ‘knock you out’ but instead melatonin helps you relax by telling your body “It’s time to go to sleep.” I have personally taken this and been very pleased with the results. I don’t know if its in my head or not, but when I take melatonin, I feel I get a deeper/better sleep. I do not offer any documentation for this, I only give you my personal opinion/experience. You can buy melatonin supplements in pill or liquid form at various retailers.
Until next time, remember, at Bucklebury we believe that your best wealth is your health!