It is that time of year again, spring is just around the corner, the last of acts of old-man winter are taking their toll (I’m thinking of you New England), and we are all adjusting to the time change. At this time of year, the most common complaint I hear is about lack of sleep and the adjustment our bodies and brains are forced to make for the time change.
When we think about ‘wellness’ we often equate it with things like exercise and nutrition, but wellness is more than that, it is the holistic balance of our ‘whole’ self. This includes our sleep. When we aren’t sleeping well, we aren’t functioning well. We aren’t able to concentrate, our communication skills can suffer, and our patience can be tested in the worst ways.
I have struggled with sleep over the last few years. My busy mind would turn on just as a I was lying down at night, so I would toss and turn until, finally exhausted, I would fall asleep with just a few hours remaining before I had to wake up.
Fortunately, I found Valerian Root. This stinky little herbal, all natural sleep-aid quickly became part of my nightly routine. I would simply take one pill with water 30 minutes before bed and, as a general rule, was able to fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply.
The added benefit of Valerian Root is that it helps to calm anxiety, which is often the reason for our busy minds. It helped me to feel calmer throughout the day and sleep better at night, even though I was only using one pill before bedtime during the week.
I thought this a wonderful opportunity to share with you some great herbal sleep-aids that rival their pharmaceutical, and sometimes addictive, counterparts.
The LUNA sleep aid is a variety of herbs that have been carefully combined to result in one of the best selling natural sleep aids on the market.
As shown on the label below (enlarged for detail) it combines the ingredients of Valerian Root, Magnesium, and Passionflower with other known relaxants like Chamomile and Melatonin. Users have raved about LUNA’s effectiveness and the fact that it does not leave you feeling groggy in the morning.
If you are more of a straightforward traditionalist, we suggest trying the herbs that LUNA is created from in their original, singular form.
This plant-based herb derives from a beautiful flowering perennial plant. In its herbal form, it is known to increase the amount of gamma aminobutryic acid (GABA) and have a calming effect on the nerves.
The Drawbacks: As herbs often do, this is a stinker! Valerian Root has a strong, musty smell to it that can be overpowering for some. If you can handle the smell or are willing to hold your breath while you down a pill or two with water, it will certainly do its job. The suggested dose is up to four pills at night, but I say start small and see how it works for you. You can always add over time.
The Full Potential: I started using Valerian Root as an herbal sleep aid, but also found that the herbs other assertions, mostly about calming anxiety, were in fact true. The longer and more consistently I used it, the less anxious I felt, even when I consumed caffeine.
Magnesium is essential to the function of GABA receptors, the primary neurotransmitter that calms our nervous system and prepares our body for sleep. Using a magnesium supplement can help your body prepare for a more restful sleep and offers ample health benefits as a key mineral our bodies need.
The Drawbacks: As with any supplement, it is important to read dosage instructions and start small to see what works for your body. The only other issue is that some of these pills can be very powdery, similar to the powder surface of aspirin, and can be sour on the tongue. Use plenty of water to avoid having the supplement dissolve in your mouth.
The Full Potential: Since Magnesium is such an important mineral to the human body, it serves to help in a multitude of ways beyond a simple sleep aid.
Like Valerian Root, Magnolia Bark is a flowering plant that has been used for centuries as a natural medicine. It is said to help with sleep, reduce anxiety, promote weight-loss, and has even been linked to benefits when used by patients that have Type II diabetes.
The Drawbacks: Healthcare professionals suggest that pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, and candidates for upcoming surgery refrain from using Magnolia Bark.
The Full Potential: There is far more “good” to review about Magnolia Bark than there is bad. Because it is helpful for so many of the conditions common to our society, we believe it is a worthy herbal investment!
Passionflower has been used for centuries to treat stomach issues and serve as a relaxant. It is also said to help with liver function. It’s calming properties allow you to relax your mind and prepare for a restful sleep.
The Drawbacks: It is strongly suggested that passionflower never be used with other sedatives as it can have adverse interactions. If not used properly, it can leave you feeling groggy or
overly-tired. Always follow the instructions when trying new herbal remedies.
The Full Potential: Passionflower has many medicinal qualities and properties that when used properly can offer an abundance of health benefits to users.
We also recommend these trusted online retailers:
The Potter’s Garden – Organic Herbs & Supplements
ProHeath Nutritional Supplements
Let us know if there is a herbal supplement that you would like to see reviewed. Email us your suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org