Sleep Aid: Herbs That Help You Sleep

Are you struggling to fall asleep or experiencing restless tossing and turning throughout the night? Consider exploring the benefits of these herbs as natural sleep remedies known for their potential to enhance sleep.

By URLife Team
31 Jan 2024

Good sleep comes from more than just maintaining a consistent bedtime routine. External factors such as stress or age-related issues can introduce additional obstacles to attaining a peaceful night's sleep. According to a 2023 report in the Indian Journal of Pharmacy Practice, 65 per cent of adolescents were reported to have less than 7 hours of sleep.


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Recognising the significance of quality sleep for overall health, it becomes evident that constant tossing and turning won't lead to restful slumber. If you find yourself grappling with inadequate sleep, know that you are not alone in facing this challenge.


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Usage of Herbs For Sleep

For centuries, herbs have played a crucial role in promoting and supporting overall health and wellness. Certain herbs can serve as natural remedies for deep sleep. Unlike synthetic or manufactured medicines, herbs are directly sourced from plants. While herbs are natural, it's crucial to approach their consumption with care.


According to a 2024 report by the Sleep Health Foundation, approximately 40 per cent of people occasionally use alternative or complementary medicines, driven by various reasons, including sleep-related issues. For those hesitant about using traditional sleeping pills, herbal remedies become an appealing alternative.


Stress can impact serotonin production, a neurotransmitter crucial for regulating mood and sleep. Herbal supplements can help compensate for serotonin loss, mitigating the effects of stress on sleep. Certain herbs, rich in tryptophan, play a role in enhancing serotonin synthesis. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter facilitating nerve impulses in the brain, contributes to maintaining chemical balance. Increasing serotonin levels can counteract the chemical imbalances associated with common sleep disorders like insomnia, characterised by difficulties falling or staying asleep for the recommended 7 to 9 hours.


In such scenarios, natural herbs become valuable allies. They can induce sleep by lowering anxiety levels or supporting physiological changes, such as muscle relaxation and a slowed heart rate, ultimately enhancing the quality of sleep.


Related story: How To Calm Your Mind And Get A Good Night’s Sleep


Top 8 Herbs For Sleep

Herbs play a crucial role in addressing the primary causes of sleep deprivation, frequently linked to a hectic lifestyle, anxiety, and stress. Fortunately, there are numerous herbal alternatives that can effectively induce deep sleep for individuals with insomnia or other sleep disorders. The following 10 herbs are particularly important for their ability to help individuals unwind, relax, and alleviate stress, ultimately promoting a night of restful sleep. 


1. Lavender

Lavender exhibits antidepressant, sedative, and calming properties, contributing to improved sleep. A 2020 research issued in the Evidence Based Complement Alternative Medicine indicates that lavender herbs have the capacity to relax nerves, lower anxiety levels, and stabilise mood disorders.  The central nervous system (CNS) effects of lavender, particularly attributed to linalool, include the moderation of neurotransmitters like glutamate, GABA, acetylcholine, and dopamine. These mechanisms likely underlie the cognitive, mood, and sleep-enhancing effects of lavender.


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2. Chamomile

Chamomile, an ancient medicinal herb, is renowned for its relaxing effects, and contemporary scientific studies affirm its efficacy. This herb has been found to reduce anxiety, soothe nerves, and alleviate insomnia.


In a 2015 randomised controlled trial issued in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, women who had recently given birth and were facing sleep difficulties reported less sleep inefficiency and depression after consuming chamomile tea at night for a two-week period. Chamomile tea's popularity as a tranquillisation beverage is attributed to the presence of nerve-relaxing flavonoids. Interestingly, the soothing effects of chamomile can even be experienced by inhaling its aroma, highlighting its multifaceted impact on promoting relaxation and better sleep.


3. Valerian Root

A 2020 study in Evidence Based Complement Alternative Medicine showed an improvement in sleep quality after administration of valerian at doses ranging from 160 to 600 mg a day. Valerian was shown to reduce wake time after sleep onset, improve sleep latency and duration, and reduce insomnia severity score.


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4. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, a medicinal herb, is frequently employed to address insomnia, effective in improving sleep onset latency and overall sleep quality. The key sleep-promoting compounds in Ashwagandha are found in its leaves, particularly triethylene glycol. This compound plays a role in alleviating feelings of stress or anxiety, inducing a sense of calmness, and facilitating easier sleep initiation.


Ashwagandha functions as a sedative to provide a natural alternative to anxiety medications or over-the-counter sleep aids. By working with the body's natural mechanisms, it promotes healthier sleep habits, making it a valuable option for those seeking a more natural approach to improving their sleep.


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5. Holy Basil

Holy Basil, known for its historical use in medicine spanning hundreds of years, has been employed to improve various health conditions, including nausea, bronchitis, bug bites, and skin irritations. Beyond its versatile applications, Holy Basil is recognised as a powerful herb for addressing sleep disorders. Holy Basil contains adaptogens, substances that assist the body in naturally adapting to and coping with stress. These adaptogens contribute to maintaining a balanced mental state, preventing stressors from impeding the ability to sleep.


6. Brahmi

Brahmi is a traditional Indian medicinal herb, which has been used to enhance cognitive functions and reduce stress. Brahmi is believed to possess sedative properties that could potentially aid in inducing sleep. The extracts from the entire Brahmi plant may exhibit sedative and tranquillising effects on animals, reducing anxiety, tension, and fear.


Related story: Sleep Deprivation—The Real Reason You Are Losing Sleep


7. Wild Lettuce

Wild lettuce is known for containing lactucarium, a milky fluid with analgesic (pain-relieving) and sedative properties. This herbal remedy is recognized for its ability to soothe nerves, alleviate pain, and relieve symptoms of mild insomnia. In homoeopathic medicine, wild lettuce is often used to treat anxiety and sleeplessness. Due to its relatively minimal side effects, it is commonly included in homoeopathic sleep remedies, making it a popular choice, especially for children. The sedative nature of wild lettuce makes it a natural option for those seeking relief from anxiety and mild insomnia.


8. Mint

Peppermint, known for its natural muscle relaxant properties, can help ease built-up tension in the body and prepare you for sleep. Additionally, mint aids in digestion, making it beneficial for those whose sleep is disrupted by a bloated stomach. If you find that certain sleepy teas, like those containing hops or passionflower, don't have the most appealing taste, adding mint leaves can enhance their flavour. This makes mint a versatile and flavorful addition to teas that promote relaxation and better sleep.


Related story: Tips To Catch Up On Poor Sleep


Sleep Hygiene Practice

Sleep hygiene encompasses specific behaviours and practices carried out throughout the day to foster restful sleep at night. Incorporating these sleep hygiene practices into your daily routine can contribute to the promotion of healthier and more restful sleep.


Here are some key sleep hygiene practices:

  • Maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up time, aiming not to deviate by more than an hour, even on weekends.
  • Establish bedtime rituals, such as taking a warm bath or shower, brushing your teeth, and reading a book before sleeping, to signal to your body that it's time to wind down.
  • Avoid consuming coffee or other caffeinated beverages after 2 pm, as caffeine can interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
  • Refrain from engaging in strenuous exercises within 3 hours of bedtime. However, light stretching exercises can be done at bedtime to help relax your muscles.
  • Avoid heavy or spicy foods close to bedtime to prevent discomfort during the night.
  • Steer clear of electronic devices such as smartphones, TVs, and tablets at least one hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted by these devices can delay the onset of sleep by disrupting the body's natural sleep-wake cycle.

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