Sleep is a vital part of our wellbeing, so creating a strong night-time routine is one of the best things we can do for our physical and mental health. If you need some help drifting off more easily, Jo Webber — Herbal Education Lead at Pukka Herbs — has shared her top five natural remedies for a better night’s sleep.
Our nervous system can be easily disrupted by things like diet, frequent travelling and generally having too much sensory stimulation. Whether it’s our use of technology or simply our busy schedules, sometimes it’s hard to switch off at the end of the day and stop our minds from racing. In fact, a recent NHS report found that over half of young people aged 17–23 have trouble falling and staying asleep, while one in five adults report that they regularly don’t get enough rest (Mental Health UK).
Everyone is different and no two people have the same sleep requirements. So, when working on a better sleep routine, start by identifying your body’s natural rhythms and eliminating things that trigger stress before bedtime. This might be avoiding screens and devices late at night, or simply moving your workout to a few hours earlier in the day. A warming cup of herbal tea can also make a great addition to your night-time routine, so as well as a few simple lifestyle changes, below are five of the best herbs to help you drift off more easily.
Due to its high concentration of essential oils, lavender makes an excellent relaxation aid and has been used for centuries as a soothing tonic. You might drink this purple bloom in the form of herbal tea, add a few drops of essential to a diffuser or spray it onto your pillow. However you decide to use it, lavender is widely recognised for its ability to help quiet the brain and settle feelings of restlessness in the nervous system. And if that wasn’t enough, it will make your bedroom smell divine.
Often used as a key ingredient in natural sleep supplements, many find that valerian root helps to ease feelings of anxiety and quietens a racing mind. Try incorporating this herb into your night-time routine and pair it with half an hour of reading rather than using screens and devices. This is much more conducive to a good night’s sleep and this nightly ritual is the perfect act of self-care after a long, stressful day. What’s more, your cat might love valerian too: it has a similar smell and effect to catnip!
Chamomile is one of the most famous herbal teas for a reason. Able to calm the nervous system and help prepare you for a deep, restful sleep, this flower has been used for centuries as a soothing natural remedy for stress and an anxious mind. Not only this, but as one of the gentlest herbs out there, the whole family can start incorporating it into their nightly routine and enjoy its calming benefits.
As well as helping you drift off peacefully, chamomile can also soothe physical tension in the muscles and respiratory system, meaning that it can also reduce congestion, indigestion and anxious feelings in the gut. If a cold or blocked nose is keeping you up at night, try steaming your face over a bowl of hot water with a few drops of chamomile essential oil, or a steeped herbal teabag, to help you breathe more easily.
A slightly lesser-known and underused herb, oat flowers can make an excellent addition to your night-time routine. Also known as oat straw or milky oats, they are harvested just after blooming but before the seeds harden — a point in the oat plant’s growth called the ‘milky stage’. Oat flower can help to soothe a stressed mind and body, making this herb a great option for anyone struggling with ongoing fatigue and nervous depletion. Enjoy an infusion of oat flower tea before bed for a comforting, restorative tonic after a long day.
In fact, while we might associate oats with breakfast time, you may even want to try a bowl of porridge in the evening. Oats are high in tryptophan, which helps to produce the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. So, why not end your day with a warming bowl of oats and top them with a pinch of naturally sweet, glucose-regulating cinnamon?
Despite the name, limeflower doesn’t actually come from fruit trees. Instead, they are harvested from a large species of tree called Tilia that grows in parks and forests throughout the Northern hemisphere. Known for its powerful regenerative properties, limeflower makes an excellent addition to your night-time routine as it helps the body rest and recharge after a strenuous day. Also known as Linden tea, limeflower infusions have been used for hundreds of years as a natural sleep aid, also helping to soothe inflammation and support the immune system.
A good night’s rest allows you to feel refreshed, recharged and ready to take on the day. Incorporating these soothing, natural herbs into your bedtime routine can help you drift off more easily and enjoy better sleep more often.