How essential oils and herbs can help relieve your restless nights

As you get older, you may notice that your sleep patterns change. Have they changed for the better? Or worse?

It may be that you sleep longer and wake more restful, bursting with energy. But what if you can’t sleep through the night without tossing or turning? Or you constantly wake up and only get a few hours of sleep a night? This could greatly impact your health in the short and long term.

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), millions of people suffer from lack of sleep. In fact, at least “40 million Americans suffer from 70 different sleep disorders” and “60 percent of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more.”

You should wake up refreshed and energized for the day’s plans and activities. Also, clarity of mind and emotion allows you to perform better and handle work, family, friends and/or projects more efficiently.

According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, the following herbal aids can aid in regular sleep patterns. Although not addictive, this should not be the only course of action you take to improve your sleep. Talk to your health professional and/or be aware that other issues such as depression, chemical imbalances, stress, nervous disorders and general poor health habits should be seriously addressed, as well.

Valerian — This herb has been used for centuries to help regulate natural sleep patterns. According to scientific research, valerian has been shown to contain natural sedative elements that help aid in a restful night’s sleep.

Eucalyptus — this herb can be found in oils, lotions and sprays. Known as a natural sleep aid, you can rub the oil into your feet at night for restful sleep, plus it may help ease coughing and chest colds.

Passion Flower — this herb can help relieve diarrhea, external scrapes and sleep problems. The herb works by helping the body to relax.

Hops — though not as well known, hops can help the body relax and get a good night’s sleep. This plant grows on long vines, and is available in pill, liquid and in leaf forms. Most popular because of its beer-making use, hops have anti-anxiety effects and may reduce the levels of menstrual cramps.

Lemon Balm — an edible plant that provides many benefits besides being a natural sleep aid. It functions as an antibacterial agent, plus may help reduce depression, heal sores, calm upset stomachs and relieve headaches, fevers and colds.

Beyond looking at natural alternatives for sleep, try these tips, from the Student Health and Counseling Services department at UC Davis:

  • Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule
  • Don’t drink or eat caffeine four to six hours before bedtime
  • Don’t smoke, especially before bedtime
  • Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before bedtime
  • Get regular exercise
  • Minimize noise, light and excessive hot and cold temperatures in the bedroom
  • Try to wake up naturally without an alarm clock
  • Attempt to go to bed earlier every night for certain period – even just by 10 minutes; this will ensure that you’re getting more sleep
Peyton Kennedy

By Peyton Kennedy

Peyton Kennedy graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications from Auburn University. Her varied experience includes journalism, marketing, public relations and social media. She currently lives in Birmingham, Ala., with her husband Tom and dog Mosby. In her spare time, Kennedy enjoys movies, reading and Auburn football.