I go in and out of having trouble sleeping. Sometimes I’ll sleep great for a few months, other times I’ll toss and turn for an hour, then regularly wake up throughout the night. When it’s really bad, I won’t be able to sleep at all for the entire night (thankfully that’s a rarity). I think this happens to a lot of people. I mean, who has great sleep all the time?
Because of this and a few other factors in my life I want to improve, I started working with an amazing herbalist, Carol Little. I’m prone to stress and anxiety, which definitely impacts how well I’m sleeping. I’m also deeply interested in herbs, herbal medicine and overall, the profound medicinal properties of herbs. My anxiety isn’t all consuming (although it was a few months ago) but I am on a quest to always improve. That’s where Carol comes in. She’s so knowledgable about herbs and healing, I just want to pick her brain for years. If you’re struggling with any kind of mood disorder, or anything really, you should definitely have a chat with her.
Herbs are nature’s medicine. I believe that there is no disease on earth without a plant from mother nature to heal it. Of course, a plant or herb isn’t the end all, be all. We have to use them in conjunction with healthy lifestyles. We have to eat well, exercise, have fun, keep a positive mindset and relax! The latter being something I’m not great at.
After talking to Carol, she suggested I give organic chamomile from Traditional Medicinals a try. I began drinking two cups, one around 5pm, one around 8pm – no later or otherwise I’d be waking myself up to pee in the middle of the night.
I find that the chamomile is so relaxing and has become part of my nighttime routine. Creating a routine around sleep is a great idea as it signifies to your body to get ready to wind down. When I have my first cup around 5pm, I’ve just stopped working for the day and it’s a chance to chill out and relax.
And guess what? Using chamomile as a sleep aid is backed by science.
From the Deparment of Urology and Nutrition at Case Western Reserve University,
“Chamomile is widely regarded as a mild tranquillizer and sleep-inducer. Sedative effects may be due to the flavonoid, apigenin that binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain (68). Studies in preclinical models have shown anticonvulsant and CNS depressant effects respectively. Clinical trials are notable for their absence, although ten cardiac patients are reported to have immediately fallen into a deep sleep lasting for 90 minutes after drinking chamomile tea (47).” Source
And when used on postnatal women examining chamomile’s effects of sleep and depression, scientists found that,
“Compared with the control group, the experimental group demonstrated significantly lower scores of physical-symptoms-related sleep inefficiency and the symptoms of depression…Chamomile tea may be recommended to postpartum women as a supplementary approach to alleviating depression and sleep quality problems.” Source
So in lieu of immediately resorting to dangerous prescription sleep aids, it’s worth trying chamomile tea.
So many different factors affect sleep, including stress, sedentary lifestyles, diet, napping, caffeine and so much more. First, here are a few of my favorite tips for getting better sleep (that actually work):
- Avoid coffee altogether. I recently found out that 51% of the population is ineffective at processing caffeine. Instead, switch to green tea or dandy blend. And don’t consume caffeine past noon.
- Don’t take naps during the day. This can be hard, but even short naps can throw off your sleep cycle. If you absolutely have to nap, set an alarm for twenty minutes.
- Exercise! Ideally, lift some heavy stuff and get a good sweat session in. But even walking will help.
- Take a relaxing bath before bed with epsom salt (magnesium helps you sleep as well) and lavender essential oil.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal before bed. Eat a balanced meal around 7pm.
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday. This is huge. It’s made such a difference for me. I’m in bed by 10pm reading, asleep by 11, and my alarm is set every single day for 7am. Even on weekends.
- Don’t watch TV or get on your computer before bed. Read a book! Bonus points if it’s boring!