Outside of a good diet and detox regimen, there’s another crucial component to enabling the regenerative processes in the body. It’s called sleep, and it can be a struggle to get enough of it. There’s no shortage of consequential side effects, either.
According to the CDC, 32.8% of Americans get inadequate amounts of sleep, which only further depletes our already overburdened bodies. Sleep helps the body fight some of its most important battles, and without it, the brain doesn’t function well at all.
What Causes Sleeping Issues?
Insufficient amounts of sleep lower your ability to handle stress and can lead to cognitive and performance drops. In addition, it’s been linked to an increased risk of dementia and contributes to metabolic disorders, including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and type two diabetes. On the whole, your body needs 7-9 hours of sleep every night to function properly.
Sleep is part of a vital renewing cycle known as the circadian rhythm. And while many things can affect your circadian rhythm, one of the most relevant issues today is the surplus of artificial light from television screens, phones and laptops.
Using electronic “blue light” devices too close to bedtime is a serious modern-day problem and frequently a factor in why so many people have trouble falling and staying asleep. The hypothalamus portion of your brain helps synchronize your biological rhythm— assisting the body in determining things like time of the day. The body produces melatonin via the hypothalamus as the surroundings get darker in the evening, which can’t happen if the brain believes the blue light of a device screen is daylight.
Other variables that often affect our ability to sleep are:
- Too much time on social media
- Poor diet
- Sleep disorders like insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy
- Certain medications
Herbs For Better Sleep
There are several readily available herbs that can help, and when combined with solvents, they produce an effective tincture for sleep. I’ve concocted a simple herbal sleep tincture recipe (below) and walked you through the process of making it step-by-step. But let’s first take a quick look at the herbs I used to see how they can potentially help you get more rest.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
One of the more favored herbs for sleep is valerian root, which has hypnotic and sedative properties. Valerian root was often used in the Middle Ages to treat nervous disorders and insomnia. But the use of valerian root for sleep has also been validated by modern science. Valerian has been shown to ease mild nervous tension and wakefulness and improve sleep quality and duration. Further, valerian demonstrated an ability to increase REM sleep and improve morning sleepiness, especially when optimized by some of its herbal partners.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
With a name like “passionflower,” one can only assume this flower is exquisite and full of vitality… and one would be right to do so. People have used this gorgeous and rejuvenating flower since the 16th century to help treat anxiety, insomnia, and even certain forms of pain. I added passionflower to this herbal sleep formula because of its capacity to increase gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical the brain makes to help regulate mood and sleep. Passionflower also displays a unique ability to regulate sleep patterns by slowing deep sleep and reducing rapid eye movement—allowing you to fall asleep faster.
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
Chamomile is usually one of the most commonly recognized herbal sleep aids, and it is, in fact, a mild tranquilizer and sleep inducer. Chamomile contains a chemical compound called apigenin, responsible for its sedative effect. It’s believed that apigenin binds to specific receptors in the brain, like benzodiazepine and GABA, quieting anxious thoughts and initiating sleep.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Stress throws your hormones off balance, which dominos into different parts of the body, especially the brain. Lemon balm is well-known for reducing stress and anxiety and promoting rest. Lemon balm naturally increases your levels of the neurotransmitter GABA, positively affecting mood and anxiety. It also contains rosmarinic acid, which has antidepressant effects on the brain. Lemon balm is also neuroprotective, promoting brain cell growth, maturation and maintenance.
⇒ Interested in trying these herbs? You can find them all in the Sleep Blend Tincture.
“Better Sleep” Herbal Tincture Recipe
I will be using alcohol as the solvent in this herbal tincture. You can use alcohol, vinegar, or vegetable glycerin to make your homemade sleep tincture. Vinegar tinctures last for about a year and, well… taste like vinegar. It would be best if you used raw organic apple cider vinegar. Vinegar tinctures are made the same way as alcohol tinctures. Alcohol tinctures last 1-3 years.
However, glycerin tinctures absorb slowly and are safer for children. Those who don’t want to use alcohol or vinegar can also opt for vegetable glycerin. Glycerin tinctures last about 2-3 years. To use glycerin, follow the same steps as the alcohol tincture, except you need to fill your jar one-third of the way full of scalding hot water. Then fill the jar the rest of the way with organic vegetable glycerin and continue to the next step.
You will need:
- 1 tbsp. dried lemon balm
- 1 tbsp. dried valerian root
- 1 tbsp. dried chamomile
- 1 tbsp. dried passionflower
- 2 pint-sized jars
- a solvent like vodka or grain alcohol (at least 80-proof), glycerin or vinegar
- ring or rubber band
- cheesecloth and dropper bottle
Step 1. Measure out each herb and place it in one of the pint-sized jars.
Step 2. Add enough alcohol or other solvent to the jar to cover the herbs completely.
Step 3. Place a piece of cheesecloth on top of the jar and secure it with a ring or rubber band. I didn’t use a metal flat top as it might get rusty. To avoid this, you can use a plastic screw on lid instead.
Step 4. Place the jar in a cool dark place, such as a cabinet, for at least six weeks. Shake the jar every day.
Step 5. Remove the jar from the cabinet and strain the liquid through the top of the cheesecloth. If desired, remove the lid and wring the juice from the herbal mash through the cheesecloth. There is a lot of potent liquid left over in the sediment.
Step 6. Add the tincture to a dropper bottle for storage. Store in a cool dry place.
How to Use This Remedy
Use your tincture by dropping 5-7 drops in 6-8 ounces of water a half hour before bedtime. You may decide you need more or less after trying it the first time—each person is different.
Warnings and Cautions
This tincture is not for children or pregnant women. Those with pre-existing conditions or on certain medications should speak with a medical provider before taking herbal remedies of any kind.
Try adding your tincture to a cup of warm chamomile tea for a super relaxing and tasty bedtime beverage. Enjoy!