A natural sleep remedy with some surprising benefits
If you’re searching for a natural sleep remedy to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, it might be time to take a second look at an herb that’s been used for centuries. Chamomile, a white, daisy-like flower, is one of the most popular “sleep” herbs – but it also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It’s been used for everything from treating chest colds to a sleep aid to soothing an upset stomach to fighting infection in slow-healing wounds.
Since ancient times, different cultures have used chamomile for its healing and sedative powers. The Egyptians dedicated the herb to the sun and worshiped it above all other herbs for its healing powers. Hieroglyphic records also show that it was used cosmetically for at least 2,000 years. Greek physicians prescribed it for fevers and female disorders.
Research has shown that chamomile’s chemical structure affects the brain in much the same was as anti-anxiety drugs. The plant contains apigenin, a chemical compound that, when consumed, can make you feel sleepy. A study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing in 2015 followed 80 new mothers and found that those who drank chamomile tea reported fewer sleep issues. Fussy babies notwithstanding, of course.
German chamomile, which has a mild, fragrant aroma, is often sold as dried flower heads for an infusion (tea). Roman chamomile, which has a bitter taste, is normally taken as a liquid extract or in a tincture (concentrated in alcohol), cream or ointment. Herbalists recommend adding a drop or two of chamomile oil to a cotton ball and placing it near your pillow or mattress. Or if you prefer, spray your bed linens with a chamomile-infused linen spray.
If you suffer from asthma, pneumonia or hay fever, the scent of chamomile while you sleep can help with symptoms. If you enjoy a warm bath at the end of a long day, adding a few drops of chamomile oil can help reduce stress, ease aches and act as a mild sedative to help you fall asleep.
Just remember that while some sleep aids and herbal remedies like chamomile may help induce sleepiness, they’re not regulated by the FDA. In the case of dietary supplements, the FDA considers them food – not medication – and they aren’t required to prove effectiveness or safety before selling them on the market.
Chamomile tea, a mild approach to sleeping better
Regulated or not, chamomile is considered a very mild herb and because it doesn’t have caffeine, it’s a good pre-bedtime drink. Brewing chamomile tea is similar to any other herbal tisane. This chamomile tea recipe can be prepared with a chamomile tea bag, loose-leaf chamomile tea, or loose, dried chamomile blossoms. You’ll need:
- 1 chamomile tea bag or 1 heaping teaspoon loose-leaf chamomile tea or dried chamomile flowers
- 8 oz. (about 250 ml) boiling water
- Honey, lemon, or mint to sweeten
To brew your tea, add the teabag or loose-leaf tea to your favorite cup or mug. If you’re using loose-leaf tea, add the leaves to an infuser. Chamomile tea is best when steeped in hot – not boiling – water so let your boiling water sit for a minute before adding it to your cup. And then let it steep for 5 to 10 minutes (most herbal teas improve with longer steeping times to bring out their best flavor and fullest benefits).
Remove the tea bag or loose tea leaves. Add sweetener as desired and then sit back, relax and get ready for a great night’s sleep.
Rest well & wake up ready to go!
Better sleep gives rise to better mornings, bringing your goals into focus and dreams within reach. Hungry for more sleep info? Dig into these posts:
- Sleep aids for better sleep
- What’s hip to sip for a better night’s sleep?
- 10 tips to help you get the deep sleep you crave