Natural Remedies for Insomnia - Hops, Lavender and Chamomile
Insomnia is difficulty in getting to sleep or staying asleep long enough to feel refreshed the next morning.
The most common cause of insomnia is stress and anxiety, other possible causes include:
- Mental health problems such as depression or schizophrenia,
- Physical conditions such as hormone problems, heart disease, joint or muscle problems or respiratory diseases,
- Drug or alcohol misuse can lead to sleepless nights.
- Some prescribed medication can cause insomnia as a side effect,
- Sleep disorders such as restless leg syndrome and narcolepsy can also prevent a person from getting to sleep.
Its thought that over a third of people in Britain alone suffer from insomnia at some point in their lives, and an estimated 60 million people in the United States are thought to suffer with this condition, causing them to feel tired and irritable through the day and unable to concentrate or function properly which can affect their jobs and personal lives.
If you suffer from insomnia regularly and it is affecting your life then it is worth seeing your doctor to establish the underlying cause and treat that. Your doctor should also give you some self help tips such as having a hot bath, a comfy bed, regular exercise and taking less caffeine which can all help. Prescribed medication should only be taken as a last resort as these can be very addictive and cause side effects all of their own!
A Natural Remedy
There are many plants that have medicinal properties and are completely safe to use with no side effects. I am going to give you a couple of remedies for insomnia using hops, lavender and chamomile.
Hop flowers (Humulus lupulus) are renowned as a sleep promoter. This is due to the bitter acids and volatile oils they contain that work together to soothe the nerves and relax giving a better nights sleep without the after effects of prescribed sleeping medication. It is better to dry your own fresh hops if possible (as described below) as this retains more of the volatile oils than are found in bought preparations.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has essential oil in the flowers. This oil has a soothing, sedative effect, which calms nerves, relaxes muscles, eases anxiety and helps promote sleep. Its soothing effect acts on the nervous system to slow nerve reactions, slightly ease pain and irritability and clearing the mind of nervous tension. Lavender can be taken alone as a tea or as an essential oil in the bath to help promote sleep.
Hops and Lavender Pillow
This is a very simple idea and it actually works! The aroma of the hops and lavender together work brilliantly in relaxing the mind and body and helping to induce sleep.
For a pillow about 32 x 23cm:
4 Handfuls dried Hop Flowers
4 Handfuls dried Lavender Flowers
- To dry the hops and the lavender yourself, tie them in bunches and hang upside down in a well ventilated space out of direct sunlight for 2 weeks. Alternatively, place in a low oven (about 100 o C) for 30 minutes until crisp and dry. Strip the flowers off the larger harder stalks.
- Put the hops and lavender flowers in a cotton pillowcase (equal amounts of each) and seal the end.
To use place the pillow under or beside your head to induce sleep.
Chamomile and Hops Bath
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is a mild sedative and relaxant. It can help ease anxiety and nervous stress that can interfere with normal sleep function. It can be drunk as a tea 1 hour before bed or added to a bath as described below.
- To make a muslin bag, place together 2 small squares of muslin and sew together 3 sides. Put 1 handful (approx 20g) chamomile flowers and 1 handful (approx 20g) hops into the bag and sew up the opening. Alternatively use a clean pop sock or cut the foot off a pair of tights, and tie the top!
- Put the bag into the bath while the water is running. Swish it around and occasionally give it a squeeze. The hot water allows the relaxing oils in these herbs to vaporize and be inhaled.
- Relax in the bath for at least 15 to 20 minutes before going to bed.