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herbs for sleep

5 Herbs for Sleep to Stop Counting Sheep

We can't live without sleep; that's a well-known fact. Sleep is your body’s natural way of healing itself. It allows your body (and your brain) to reset and recharge. It's also important for helping maintain a healthy weight, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, maintaining immune function, and even reducing inflammation.

Experts suggest that the average person needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep to feel relaxed and rejuvenated, but sometimes getting quality sleep can be tough.

This week, we're focusing on the best herbs for sleep to help you get closer to that 7-9 hour resting period. These natural options can help you fall asleep, and get a better night's rest. 

5 Herbs for Sleep

It's time to stop counting those sheep...

1. Chamomile

When you're having trouble sleeping, often nothing beats a basic cup of chamomile tea. 

Chamomile is widely regarded for its sleep-inducing properties. Chamomile's sedative effects may be due to a specific flavonoid, apigenin, which binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain. And that term may sound familiar - this class of medications are specifically designed to address sleeping issues. We like chamomile though because it can provide the same snooze-factor, naturally.

As mentioned, a soothing chamomile tea often does the trick! Just grab a tea bag, steep, and sip away.

2. Lavender 

Lavender is another of the well-loved herbs for sleep. Numerous research studies have looked at both lavender essential oil and lavender the herb for sleep. Results show that both options can provide better sleep quality.

To use lavender for sleep, place a few drops of lavender essential oil on a cloth or some dried herb into a sachet and tuck it into your pillow case, put some oil in your defuser, or take a warm bath with lavender before bed.

3. Passionflower

Passionflower promotes better sleepy helping to calm an overactive brain. Research suggests it does this by increasing the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in your brain. GABA lowers brain activity, which may help you relax and sleep better. By helping to slow down an overactive mind, Passionflower nurtures feelings of calmness, allowing the body to let go and relax into sleep.

You can use dried passionflower to make an herbal tea. You can find dried passionflower or prepackaged tea at many health food stores. You can also find liquid extracts, capsules, and tablets.

4. Valerian Root 

Research suggests that valerian root may help you fall asleep faster, as well as improve overall sleep quality and quantity.

Like Passionflower, valerian root (specifically the compounds valerenic acid and valerenol) can modulate GABA receptors and increase the amount of GABA available in the central nervous system. What’s more, research has shown that valerenic acid inhibits an enzyme that destroys GABA.

Based on research, it seems that valerian root is most effective when taken for at least 4-8 weeks, a few hours before bedtime. Valerian root tea is easy to make (just pour boiling water over 1 tsp of dried root), but you can also buy a supplement for convenience.

5. Ashwaganda 

Ashwagandha is another of the herbs for sleep, and it's commonly used to combat insomnia. 

The main active ingredients in Ashwaganda are withanolides, which are believed to help ease stress. And that's important, since stress is linked to poo sleep quality. Additionally, like passionflower and valerian root, ashwaganda acts on GABA receptors to help bring about sleepiness.

To use ashwaganda for sleep you have a few options - powders, teas, pills, or tinctures. Just follow the instructions of the particular product you buy.

If you find yourself lying awake at night, counting sheep, or notice that you're always drowsy during the day, it might be time to turn to Mother Nature for a better night's rest. These 5 herbs for sleep are proven to help.

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