Using Herbs to Get a Better Night's Sleep

Written by Lauren Long

Herbal advice to success in getting a good night's sleep. The natural alternative to sleep medicine.

Before there were 24-hour drug superstores on every corner, folks lulled themselves to sleep with a variety of natural remedies that didn't leave them feeling dopey the next day. Joan and Lydia Wilen offer a number of suggestions for better sleep in their book, Chicken Soup & Other Folk Remedies. 

Here are five you can try:

1. Break out the spice rack; nutmeg can be a sedative. Steep half of a crushed nutmeg (not more than that) in hot water for 10 minutes and drink it a half-hour before bedtime. If you don't like the taste, you can use nutmeg oil on your skin. Dilute a few drops in a base of almond oil and rub it on your forehead.

2. Drink a glass of pure, warmed grapefruit juice. If you wish to sweeten it, add raw honey.

3. An herbal bath may help you feel sleepy. Use any one or a combination of herbs: lavender, marigold, passionflower and rosemary. Before your bath, prepare a cup of herb tea to drink as soon as you get out of the tub. Try chamomile, sage or fresh ginger tea.

4. Drink a glass of unchilled elderberry juice. You can get pure elderberry concentrate at health food stores. Dilute, drink and hit the hay.
5. Keep the room temperature cool and your feet warm. Wear socks to bed or rest your feet on a hot-water bottle. Sleepiness is caused by a drop in core body temperature, according to a study done at the Chronobiology and Sleep Laboratory in Basel, Switzerland. This happens as your body heat slowly dissipates through dilated blood vessels in the feet.

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Photographer: oscar tellez

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