Good sleep is essential to good health. And yet so many of us struggle to get a good night’s sleep. Improving your quality of sleep can not only make you feel more alert and energetic, it can also improve immune function, mood, digestion, healing time from injuries and illness, and stress response.
A lot of folks just don’t give themselves enough time to sleep. The average adult needs seven to nine hours every day (and “making it up” on the weekends is not as helpful as you think!). Plus you need a little time to fall asleep and wake up again. So if you need eight hours of sleep, you need to schedule for nine hours in bed with the lights (and the tv, phone, tablet, laptop, etc.) off to get proper rest each night. In fact, if you are struggling with sleep, your tv, phone, tablet, laptop, etc. should be turned off two hours before you go to bed.
Stress is a major factor in poor sleep, no surprise there. We just don’t know how to relax. Our thoughts race, our muscles ache, our to-do lists beckon. Regular, gentle exercise like walking, swimming, tai chi, or yoga can really help reduce stress and improve sleep. Meditation, journaling, talk therapy, and art can all relax and rejuvenate the mind the way exercise does the body. Dealing with stress can vastly improve your sleep and better sleep will reduce your stress. A great cycle to begin!
Okay, the herbs…
I organize herbs for sleep into three major categories. They are herbs that can help with:
- Trouble Falling Asleep
- Trouble Staying Asleep
- Sleeping But Not Feeling Refreshed
Herbs to Help with Trouble Falling Asleep
If you struggle with racing thoughts, and lots of thinking at bedtime, try Passionflower, Skullcap, or Vervain
If you have aches and pains, or just can’t get comfortable, try Ashwagandha, Valerian, or Turmeric
If you lay awake with nothing in particular troubling you (besides the fact that you’re not sleeping) try Jujube, California Poppy, or Wild Lettuce
Herbs to Help with Trouble Staying Asleep
If you wake up between 1am and 3am and can’t get back to sleep, try Turmeric or Ashwagandha
If you sleep lightly and wake frequently, try Ashwagandha, Bhringaraj, or Valerian
If you wake up worrying, try Holy Basil, Skullcap, or Kava Kava
Herbs to Help if You Just Don’t Feel Rested
If you’re sleeping okay most nights, but wake up tired, try Ashwagandha, Eleuthero, or Holy Basil.
My Favorite Sleep Products
I Sleep Soundly by Banyan Botanicals
A gentle formula to encourage healthy, sound sleep. No sluggish feeling the next morning.
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Sleep Thru by Gaia Herbs
This is a stronger, more sedative formula, but very useful if you’re feeling anxious or frustrated.
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Ashwagandha by Oregon’s Wild Harvest
One of my all-time favorite herbs, this helps with stress, muscle tension, and improves your quality of sleep.
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Holy Basil by New Chapter
Another favorite herb, this one helps reduce stress and clarifies the mind, helping with restless thoughts and circular thinking.
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