Sunday, April 21, 2013

Natural Remedies for Sweet Dreams: Stop Counting Sheep and Sleep!

If you are counting sheep instead of sleeping, have no fear, there are many herbs to choose from when it comes to getting the rest you need. The best part? There are far less side effects than prescription sleeping pills or over the counter medications that can make you drowsy and out of it during the day (check with your MD before stopping any medications).

Try taking a dose of herbal tincture or two capsules an hour before bed. Chamomile has long been used as a remedy for sleep. It's a nerve restorative and will help calm you if you have anxiety and stress. Chamomile is also high in nerve and muscle relaxing calcium, magnesium, potassium and some of the B vitamins which are known to aid relaxation. Taken before bedtime, chamomile is also a traditional remedy to help those prone to nightmares.

Hops help to induce sleep and provides a pleasant numbing sensation. Hops contains lupulin which is considered a strong, but safe reliable sedative. It can help mellow you out.  Hops is sedative as well and can help ease minor pain. 

Kava kava, native to the South Pacific is an ancient Polynesian remedy for insomnia and nervousness and is reputed to induce vivid dreams.  It is often used in the islands ceremoniously as a religious ritual, to welcome guests and honor births, marriages and business deals. It helps foster open communication and a feeling of 'letting go."

Passion flower helps to relax the mind so it's useful for worried insomniacs. It slows down the breakdown of serotonin and norepinephrine, allowing one to maintain a more peaceful state of consciousness. Passion flower has traditionally been used to treat hysteria, nervousness and to aid recovery in nervous breakdown. It is an anti spasmodic and sedative.

Skullcap is considered one of the best tonics for the nervous system. It has long been used to ease emotional upsets, restlessness and insomnia. It is rich in calcium, magnesium and potassium. Scutellarin, which is contained in this herb gets transformed into scutellarein which stimulates the brain to produce more endorphins. Use skullcap to help rebuild a nervous system that is exhausted.  Skullcap is best when used over an extended period of time.

Valerian helps sleep disorders that are the result of anxiety. However some people find valerian works as a stimulant, rather than a sedative. because their bodies are unable to transform the essential oils in valerian into valerianic acid, one of the main calming components. If this is the case, try another herb to help you sleep.

For many people though, valerian calms fear, anxiety and panic. During World War I, valerian was used to treat shell shock. In Germany valerian is used for childhood behavioral problems, yet still gives the children good reaction time and muscle coordination. But large doses over long periods of time are not recommended for those with a tendency towards depression. It doesn't taste good though, so try taking it in capsule or tincture form rather than as a tea. It works best for two to three week periods or when needed rather than on a daily basis.

Try a Herbal Sachet. Another way of using the benefits of herbs to sleep is in the making of  pillow, which is simply a sachet about 5 by 5 inches filled with hops. This is inserted into one's pillowcase. The calming aroma helps slumber. Other herbs that have been used for sleep sachets include lavender, chamomile and woodruff, lemon balm.  A pillow for children's sleep could be filled with dill seed, fennel seed and lavender. Both King George II and Abraham Lincoln are said to have slept with hops pillows to help them sleep.

Check in next week, for Part Two: Supplements for Sweet Dreams and the week after that for Part Three: Practices for Sweet Dreams. In the meantime, here's the scoop on my new book SCENT to KILL: A Natural Remedies Mystery.    

Willow McQuade, naturopathic doctor, along with her hunky ex-cop boyfriend Jackson Spade, attend a party for a psychic TV show that is filming on Long Island’s idyllic East End. However, Willow is much more interested in visiting the estate’s lavender farm, seeking inspiration for the new aromatherapy workshops she'll be holding at her store, Nature’s Way Market & CafĂ©.   

Before the party is over, Roger Bixby one of the producers is dead and the police suspect murder. Roger was working on the show, MJ’s Mind, with Carly Bixby, his ex-wife and the new girlfriend of Willow's ex from L.A., TV writer/producer Simon Lewis.   

After Willow leaves the party, she gets a frantic text from Simon asking for her help. Since Simon had a fight with Roger earlier in the evening, and because of his death is now the primary shareholder in Galaxy films, Willow's ex becomes the prime suspect. Simon begs her to crack the case and clear him of the murder. MJ McClellan, the psychic and star of the show also asks Willow for help. She hires Willow to provide natural remedies, including aromatherapy, massage, acupuncture and yoga to soothe the agitated crew of her show. 

To find the killer, Willow has to deal with ghosts in a haunted mansion, a truly dysfunctional family, death threats and “accidents,” while trying to untangle a homicide identical to one committed during prohibition. Thankfully, Jackson has been hired to provide security and is there to watch her back and help Willow solve this spooky mystery.

As a bonus, you’ll find dozens of natural aromatherapy cures throughout the book that can improve your health. 

This is my rescue dachshund Wallander (named after Kurt Wallander, the Swedish detective in Henning Mankell's books) and I'm the author of SCENT TO KILL, (Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster) the second in the NATURAL REMEDIES MYSTERY series, DEATH DROPS: A Natural Remedies Mystery, the non-fiction title THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO NATURAL REMEDIES (Alpha, 2009), the co-author of BEAT SUGAR ADDICTION NOW! (Fairwinds Press, 2010), currently in its fourth printing, the BEAT SUGAR ADDICTION NOW!COOKBOOK (Fairwinds Press, 2012) and THE COUNTRY ALMANAC OF HOME REMEDIES (Fairwinds, 2011). My magazine articles featuring natural remedies have appeared in many national publications including Natural Health, Vegetarian Times, Better Homes & Gardens and Remedy. Visit


Linda O. Johnston said...

I'll have to try some of your suggestions, Chrystle. I used to fall asleep fast and sleep well, but these days it usually takes me a while to drop off--sometimes because my subconscious mind is feeding me story ideas, or reminders, or just whatever it feels like! Thanks for the help.

Betty Hechtman said...

I swear by lavendar sachets. If I am having trouble sleeping I just put one on my pillow and it is off to dreamland.