Sleep and Herbal Support Remedies
Let’s talk about sleep, the average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night, in saying that some people can function on less. Inadequate sleep can raise the stress hormone cortisol and over a long period can cause serious health issues.
The sleep- wake cycle is influenced by exposure to light which increases secretion of serotonin and darkness increases secretion of melatonin. A brightly lit room isn’t going to support a healthy sleep routine. Sleep, body temperature and eating patterns are also influenced by circadian rhythm – have you ever woken hungry in the early hours of the morning this can relate to low blood sugar levels.
A naturopath aims to assess the cause of sleep disorders, explain the importance of good sleep hygiene, help regulate circadian rhythm, functions and address external stressors while supporting the nervous system if needed. There is much that could be said on the subject but let’s talk about herbal medicines. Here are just a few of the herbs that support sleep in its many aspects:
- Humulus lupulus (Hops)
It’s use as an herbal sedative can be traced back to numerous traditional healing systems. Has been beneficial in the use for sleep disturbances where there is anxiety and nervousness, also gives relief from pain.
- Passiflora incarnata (Passion Flower)
Is used for sleep disorders with restlessness and nervous stress. Induces REM sleep and freshness on wakening.
- Piper methysticum (Kava)
Kava combined with passion flower provide a better result especially when decreasing prolonged amphetamine (A drug that has a stimulant effect) and barbiturate (sedative and sleep-inducing drug) use. Kava works as a central nervous system depressant with a sedative, muscle relaxant, alleviates anxiety and may help with sleep disturbances associated with menopause.
- Zizyphus spinosa (zizyphus)
Has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to promote relief from insomnia where anxiety and nervousness prevail also effective in conjunction with Magnolia officinalis which provide sedative effects. Great for broken sleep from night sweats.
- Matricaria recutita (German chamomile)
Is used extensively for its mild sedative effects, great for anxiety, insomnia and restlessness. Can be taken as an herbal tea. Chamomile oil has calming qualities also used for insomnia.
- Lavandula angustifolia (lavender)
It has a long history of promoting relaxation, relieving anxiety, insomnia and excitability. Is used in aromatherapy. Lavender oil demonstrated sedative activity after inhalation.
- Melissa officinalis (lemon balm)
Last but not least another great herb for treating insomnia, anxiety, irritability and depression which can all effect our sleeping patterns.
All herbs can be used as herbal infusions (tea).
- Scutellaria laterifolia (skullcap)
Is a nervine and mild sedative having a soothing sedative effect on the nervous system, helps with emotional stress, anxiety and depression.
- Piscidia erythrina (Jamaican dogwood)
Has been traditionally used for sleep disorders, beneficial for the elderly with a nervous temperament, good for its sedative and pain-relieving qualities.
- Valerian officinalis (valerian)
This is a popular herb for sleep disorders. Works on the nervous system by activating (GABA) receptors which are involved in sleep promotion and regulation. Can be more beneficial when used with hops in some cases it can increase wakefulness