Can Herbal Tea Help With Insomnia?
It's been over 150 years since the Industrial Revolution and yet with all our technological advances, we're not living the lives of leisure our forefathers imagined we would. We're working longer hours, are busier than ever, and we're sleep-deprived.
One of the expectations just a few generations back, was that the Modern World would usher in advances that would make long hours, and dangerous conditions obsolete for the working man or woman.
Unfortunately, studies have repeatedly shown that we work longer hours than our agrarian ancestors did, and although many of us work safe, sedentary jobs instead of hard, back-breaking ones, our modern lives have a new hazard that is often taken for granted but can seriously damage to our lives: stress.
Stress is a necessary part of life; it alerts us to danger so we can protect ourselves. We're assaulted by stress on a level that is almost unprecedented. Our minds are alerting our bodies to every possible threat they detect, whether credible or not. And unrelenting stress is a serious health concern. It is a contributing factor in many diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and system inflammation. It also leads to insomnia.
It's estimated that 10% of all Americans suffer from chronic insomnia, another 30% suffer from occasional bouts of sleep problems, and half report that they lose sleep due to stress and anxiety.
Losing sleep isn't a big deal, why do people think it's so serious?
- Falling asleep while driving causes over 200,000 traffic accidents in the U.S. each year, killing more people than drunk driving.
- Cortisol, a hormone related to stress, is moderated by sleep. When it builds up in the body, it causes elevated levels of inflammation in the body. Inflammation contributes to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and obesity.
- One of the leading causes of workplace accidents is falling asleep.
- Insomnia causes temporary memory loss, irritability, muscle aches, and an inability to concentrate
The sleep industry is big business. Americans spend over $30 billion, yes BILLIONS, each year on sleep remedies.
Antidepressants, sedative-hypnotics like Ambien, and benzodiazepines like Xanax, are often prescribed by doctors to help sufferers get relief. The problem is that these remedies disrupt REM sleep, which is the deep sleep state which is critical for restoring the body. There's also a risk of psychological or physical dependence, and a number of side effects.
Even over-the-counter sleeping pills which are usually a type of antihistamines, don't allow you to fall into the deep sleep your body needs, and often stop working as your body builds a tolerance.
That's why natural remedies are so popular. They're inexpensive, non-habit forming, and have little to no side effects.
There are several herbs that have sedative properties that will relax you and produce feelings of well-being. They can be taken as supplements, but the most effective way is to brew the herbs to make tea. That way you're getting all the benefits of the plant, without any fillers or unnecessary additives.
All you need is to learn a few basics before formulating your own teas which will suit your needs.
Sourcing your herbs is important because you'll know that the plants were grown organically and that they have been stored properly. You can also grow your own, it can become an enjoyable activity, choosing the plants you want to include in your garden, nurturing them, and harvesting them.
If you want to create your own blends, by combining several herbs, you just need some basic equipment:
- A digital scale
- Several small bowls
- Airtight containers or opaque bags
- And a stainless steel or wooden spoon
You can find wonderful recipes online, by consulting a herbalist, or in books on the subject.
The Best Herbs To Help You Sleep
Chamomile tea is probably the best-known of all the herbal teas when it comes to promoting a good night's sleep. It's easily available at any grocery store, and most people enjoy the taste.
It has properties that induce a mildly sedating effect and relaxes muscles that help people fall asleep. It only takes 1 or 2 cups of tea before bedtime to feel the effects.
- Valerian Root
Many studies have been conducted on valerian root, and they've discovered that the herb has sedative properties which ease anxiety. There are several valerian root products on the market, including teas. One cup before bedtime should provide benefits.
Lavender essential oil is used to calm the mind and improve both the duration and the quality of sleep. Lavender has properties that help relieve anxiety, slow the heart rate, and produce a feeling of profound relaxation.
When you drink lavender tea, you're receiving benefits from both the fragrance and the plant's phytochemicals. It's easy to brew tea from the buds, just pour a cup of hot water over 1 teaspoon of lavender and allow it to steep for 5 minutes. Strain and add honey and/or lemon to taste.
This herb may seem like an unusual addition to the list because peppermint is so often thought of as a cool, bracing flavor. However, peppermint tea is well-known for its ability to calm the stomach.
In cases where you're tossing and turning due to indigestion, this is the perfect tea for you. Drink a cup of tea after a heavy meal, or when you first start to feel indigestion. The tea can be found in any supermarket or drug store.
When you suffer with sleeplessness for more than a night or two, it's time to take the matter seriously before it becomes chronic insomnia.
Insomnia can wreak havoc on your personal and professional lives, due to your frayed nerves, irritability, inability to concentrate, and slow reaction time.
In addition, not getting enough sleep is a major risk factor for many serious illnesses including heart disease, dementia, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.
While you may be tempted to ask your doctor for a prescription to deal with your problem, there are less harmful options you should consider first. Prescription sleep aids are habit-forming and have serious side effects.
Making some lifestyle changes to reduce your stress such as regular exercise, meditation, and biofeedback are steps in the right direction. Adding natural remedies, like herbal teas, can help you overcome your sleepless nights.