13 Best Natural Herbs for Sleep

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10 min read

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13 Best Natural Herbs for Sleep

Did you know that 1 in 3 adults in the United States doesn’t get proper sleep causing hazardous damages to our body, mind and soul. Herbs have been used for centuries as natural remedies and sleep aids. Unfortunately, for those struggling to get enough shuteye, there are plenty of prescription sleeping pills today with side effects most would rather avoid. Nevertheless, herbs are a crucial part of the medical industry and have an entire drive like Ayurveda– dedicated to it. Plants like chamomile, lavender, and many others can help promote calmness. At the same time, jungulu (wild ginger) boosts energy levels, making them perfect for treating restlessness caused by nightmares or stress dreams without any negative impacts whatsoever. 

Thus, this article will help you unlock the power of 13 natural herbs for sleep that will ensure you a tight good night’s sleep. Some of these elemental herbs are:

  1. Lavender
  2. Chamomile
  3. Ashwagandha
  4. Valerian
  5. Hops
  6. Passionflower
  7. Magnolia
  8. Basil
  9. Lettuce
  10. Mint
  11. California Poppy
  12. Ginseng
  13. St. John’s Wort

13 Best Natural Herbs for Sleep

Need a good night’s sleep? Check out these natural herbs for sleep that will make dozing off easier for you to get through that hard day’s night and power through those mental blocks. Explore them below.

1. Lavender

Benefits: Calms the nervous system and promotes slow-wave sleep

You know lavender for its appealing scent. It is used in perfumes and soaps. Lavender contains essential oils that can relax you, helping you get sound sleep. You can inhale, ingest, or apply it to your skin. Try diffusing some lavender oil in your bedroom 30 minutes before hitting the bed. Alternatively, you can have a cup of lavender tea for better results.

2. Chamomile 

Benefits: Have antioxidants that bind to brain receptors. Promotes sleepiness and reduce insomnia

Chamomile is one of the best natural sleep aids. This herb has been used for ages as a tranquilizer. It calms you down after a stressful day, giving you a relaxing night of sleep. Chamomile has other health benefits too. It is rich in antioxidants and also has anti-inflammatory properties. So, a cup of chamomile tea before bed will not only promote better sleep. It will also help you lead a healthy life.

3. Ashwagandha

Benefits: Improves sleep quality and sleep onset latency in patients with insomnia

If you keep on tossing and turning in your bed, you might take Ashwagandha for sleep. Studies show it can help you fall asleep faster and also improve the quality of sleep. This herb acts as a sedative. So, it is an excellent alternative to over the counter drugs that might have several side effects. After all, natural sleep remedies are always better than allopathic medicines.

4. Valerian

Benefits: Inhibits unwanted nervous system activity and helping the brain lead to falling asleep faster

Valerian root has been used for a long time in Europe as a natural sleep aid. It has relaxing properties, and can help you get undisturbed sleep. Research shows that it can lead to better sleep if you are suffering from insomnia. It works on the same principles as anti-anxiety medicines, thereby giving you a restful night of sleep.

5. Hops

Benefits: Helps in relieving anxiety and sleep disorders

Hops flowers help in treating insomnia since they contain sleep-inducing chemicals. Hops have a strong fragrance and doctors often advise using powdered hops in your pillow if you have insomnia. Hops flowers, however, taste bitter. So, you can mix them with chamomile for better taste.

6. Passionflower

Benefits: Aids in relaxation, enhanced mood, better sleep, and pain relief

Passionflower is an exotic flower with blue or purple petals. Some researchers suggest that it may help in reducing stress and anxiety. However, more research needs to be done on the effects of passionflower on sleep.

A study showed that a combination of valerian, hops, and passionflower can help patients with insomnia. It reduced the time taken to fall asleep in the participants. Moreover, it led to deeper and better sleep. Thus, you can take a mixture of valerian, hops, and passion flower if you are looking for natural sleeping remedies. You don’t have to worry about adverse side effects.

7. Magnolia

Benefits: Helps in inducing and improving sleep

The bark of a magnolia tree is known for its sleep-inducing properties. It can help you fall asleep faster and improve sleep quality at the same time. Magnolia lowers the body’s cortisol levels, thereby reducing stress and anxiety too. Magnolia is so effective in promoting sleep that doctors advise not to take it during the day. If you are on other medications, it is better to consult your doctor before taking magnolia bark.

8. Basil

Benefits: Reduces stress, aids in restoring natural sleep rhythms and calms the brain

The basil plant is considered holy in many cultures. Our ancestors have also used it for therapeutic purposes for ages. It can improve throat infections, skin irritations, and bronchitis. Moreover, basil can reduce stress and help in getting better sleep. Basil can also do away with aches and pains. So if you are unable to sleep due to body aches, basil can be an excellent remedy.

9. Lettuce

Benefits: Best known for its sedative, calming and pain killing properties

Some varieties of lettuce have sedative properties. They relax and soothe your muscles and nerves, helping you sleep peacefully. Wild lettuce is also used in homeopathic medicine for anxiety and insomnia. Since it has no side effects, it’s also safe for children.

10. Mint

Benefits: Is a muscle relaxant and may help you relax before bedtime

Peppermint is an age-old herb known even to the ancient Greeks and Romans. They were also aware of its medicinal properties. Apart from reducing stress and promoting sleep, it also helps deal with stomach ailments. Mint is everyone’s favorite due to its pleasant and distinct smell. It can enhance the flavour of any food. There are many herbal teas for sleeping that don’t taste good. But when it comes to mint tea you don’t have to worry about the taste.

11. California Poppy

Benefits: Promote relaxation, reduce mild pain, and enhance sleep

The California poppy is another herbal sleep aid. The plant grows in the US and Mexico. It is known for its analgesic properties. Thus, it is super effective in reducing pain, helping you sleep better. You can either consume its leaves or inhale California poppy infused oil. Getting an oil massage might give you the best results, by relaxing your muscles, giving you the best sleep.

12. Ginseng

Benefits: Help the brain slow down and allows one to sleep soundly through mental fatigue

Ginseng is a plant that has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to treat insomnia. However, recent studies have shown that ginseng may also effectively promote a good night’s sleep. Scientists believe that ginseng supports human health by providing nutrients necessary for the body to function properly. In addition, ginseng-infused tea have calming properties that can help the brain slow down, allowing you to sleep soundly through mental fatigue and restlessness. If you are looking for a natural way to improve your sleep, ginseng may be worth considering.

13. St. John’s Wort

Benefits: Helpful in treating mood swings, anxiousness and depression symptoms. Leads to better sleep.

Also known as the “weedy herb,” it grows in pastures and is fatal to grazing cattle. However, St. John’s Wort has therapeutic benefits for us humans. These yellow flowers are rich with tryptophan, which boosts serotonin synthesis and is helpful to people with depression symptoms. This property helps in getting better sleep patterns and feeling less anxious or moody compared to prescribed medicines that come with side effects to follow and bear. 

How Herbs Can Help You Sleep?

Sleep deprivation and disorders are caused by anxiety, stress, and other lifestyle changes. Herbs for sleep can help reduce your stress levels by relaxing you, thereby leading to better sleep.

Stress inhibits the production of the neurotransmitter, serotonin ( which helps in sleep). Taking herbal remedies for sleep can compensate for this loss. Some herbs are high in tryptophan, an amino acid that helps in the synthesis of serotonin. Increasing serotonin levels is an effective way to deal with insomnia. The herbs also bring about physiological changes like relaxing the muscles and reducing the heart rate. Thus, your body gets prepared for a sound sleep.

How to Use Herbs for Sleep?

Ayurvedic herbs for sleep are safe and do not have adverse side effects. However, it is better to consult your doctor before consuming them if you have any medical disorders.

Here are some ways in which you can use herbs for better sleep.

  • Make some herbal tea– If you had a stressful day, a cup of herbal tea for sleep can help you relax. Brew a spoonful of herbs in water. Keep it for some time before straining and drinking.
  • Use essential oils– Essential oils are one of the best natural sleeping remedies. You will easily get lavender or mint flavored essential oils in the market. Spray a bit in your room 30 minutes before going to bed. You can also put essential oils in your bath water for a relaxing bath.

Alternatively, you can rub some herbal oil in your palms and inhale it. That will help you calm down, helping you sleep peacefully at night.

  • Get aromatherapy candles

If you wish to avoid my medicines and natural sleep supplements, you can buy herb-infused candles. Light them an hour before going to bed. A sweet and pleasant smell will fill your bedroom, giving you a relaxing slumber.

  • Take herbal supplements

Allopathic sleeping pills have dangerous side effects. It’s better to avoid them. But don’t worry. You can tackle herbal sleeping pills instead. You will get them in any medical store.

  • Get a soothing massage

Do not take a massage with undiluted herbal oils. Mix them with olive and coconut oil because your skin might be sensitive to certain herbs. Getting a herbal massage is the best way to use herbs for relaxation and sleep.

  • Use powdered herbs

You can sprinkle some powdered herbs inside your pillow. That way you will get to inhale them. Isn’t that a good way to get a calming herbal sleep?

Risks and Precautions to Consider While Taking Herbs for Sleep

Using herbs for sleep is undoubtedly an organic way to improve your sleep patterns, reduce stress, ease menopausal issues, and promote relaxation and calmness. But as per some reports and studies, even herbs, if not appropriately taken, may lead to health hazards. Therefore, below are some risks of using herbs for sleep and precautions to follow while consuming them. Read them below.

Some Risks to Know While Using Herbs for Sleep

  • Illusions and Dreams

Studies over time have shown that taking herbs for sleep may lead to having vivid dreams. For example, a study examined the side effects of herbs like valerian roots and kava. It was noticed that some 16% of people experienced vivid dreams during the treatment. Such herbs may cause illusions and vivid dreams as they contain compounds and oil properties called iridoid glycosides. These compounds stimulate opioid receptors and serotonin production in your brain, producing relaxing and antidepressant effects. The experiment concluded that these soothing properties of the herbs promote deeper sleeping patterns that may lead to dreaming.

  • Heart Palpitations

Heart palpitations are a feeling of a rapid or fluttering heartbeat that may lead to heart failure, restlessness, and anxiety. Though harmless, palpitations can be worrisome if not taken care of. This can be triggered due to excessive stress, physical activities, medication, or a medical condition. As per some historians, herbs were used to treat heart palpitations back in the 16th century. Interesting isn’t it! But, some people experienced them as a side effect of using or discontinuing the herbs. Notably, these treatments and experiments were anecdotal and weren’t based on any research.

  • Dehydration and Diarrhea

It was noticed as per a study that herbs like Valerian roots might cause dry mouth and mess up your digestive system. However, some people who’ve been using it reported a rise in bowel activities after consuming it. Herbs have also been used consistently in Europe to fight against indigestion and constipation issues. Unfortunately, these laxative side effects can also cause diarrhea or an upset stomach.

One must avoid mixing herbs with:

  • alcohol
  • antidepressant tablets
  • avoid taking it with sleeping pills
  • drugs
  • cholesterol control medicines
  • antifungal medicines
  • St. John’s wort

Some Precautions to follow while using Herbs for Sleep

  1. Speak with your doctor before taking any herbs for sleep. This is especially important if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a medical condition, or are taking any medications.
  2. Start with a low dose of the herb and observe its effects on you. If you feel uneasy after taking it, stop consuming it then-and-there. However, if you feel fine and relaxed then increase its intake gradually as needed.
  3. Be aware that some herbs may cause some side effects, such as headache, diarrhea, and dizziness due to their heavy natural properties. Notably, the side effects may vary from body to body.
  4. Avoid taking herbs for sleep if you are operating machinery or driving. Because the aforementioned 13 natural herbs for sleep are best suited for the ones who suffer with no shuteye. These herbs are best responsible for calming your senses and relaxing your nervous system.
  5. Do not take herbs for sleep for more than a few days at a time to avoid dependence or tolerance. Remember, addiction in any form is harmful. Be it caffeine, medicated drugs or in this case– herbs.

General Sleep Hygiene Tips

Using the best herbs for sleep won’t help you if you don’t maintain proper sleep hygiene. Healthy sleeping habits can improve your quality of life. Here are some tips you can follow.

  • Follow a fixed schedule

Try to go to bed at the same time every day. That will help your body get accustomed to the sleep cycle and ensure you get enough sleep.

  • Reduce caffeine intake

Caffeine can overstimulate you, preventing you from falling asleep. Thus, it’s better not to drink caffeinated drinks in the evening. You can instead try chamomile for sleep.

  • Disconnect with devices 

One of the best home remedies for sleep is to keep all your devices away. Put your phone away at least 30 minutes before going to bed. It will relax your mind, helping you fall asleep faster.

  • Don’t go to bed stressed

You might have had a tiring day at work. There might be a thousand thoughts racing in your mind. But you need to calm your mind to sleep peacefully. Taking the best herbal sleep aid is not enough. Try engaging in some relaxing activity like reading or meditation.

Conclusion

Now that you know about tons of natural sleep remedies, go and get hold of some calming herbs. After all, going to bed relaxed will ensure you wake up feeling energized. That will boost your productivity levels throughout the day. If you don’t want to consume these herbs raw, you can take natural sleeping pills available in the market. But consult with your doctor to know if it’s safe for you.

Passionflower, Valerian, Lavender and Hops are some of the most effective natural sleep aids that one can use for a better good nights’ sleep.

Chamomile tea is one of the most often used herbal teas that helps in calming senses and triggers us to deep sleep.

Valerian is considered to be one of the strongest consumable herb whose nativity stands back to Asia and Europe. Its roots are used in treating the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and menopause. Valerian root is also one of the most commonly used sleep-promoting herbal supplement in America.

Valerian is considered to be the strongest form of herb for numerous reasons. However melatonin is said to be a more natural way of helping one sleep better. Since melatonin already exists in our body, it is less likely to have side effects of any type.

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Meet Our Review Board

Each week our team researches, writes and collaborates with industry leaders to bring you simple easy-to-read sleep information.

David Bridge

Sleep Coach

Siddhesh Tiwatne

Sleep Coach

Authored by health experts and journalists

Fact checked and science-backed

Medically reviewed by physicians

Meet Our Review Board

Each week our team researches, writes and collaborates with industry leaders to bring you simple easy-to-read sleep information.

David Bridge

Sleep Coach

Siddhesh Tiwatne

Sleep Coach

Authored by health experts and journalists

Fact checked and science-backed

Medically reviewed by physicians